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[RC] FYI: Get to know your horse's heart - Katrina Mosshammer

I just want to send this excerpt from an article on the horse.com. I just became aware of my mare having an heart arrhythmia during a ride at the beginning of March. I have owned Perle for two years and had never had any indication that there was any type of problem. She has completed 250 miles in those two years and only 1 pull before the one in March and that was for lameness when she sliced her heel bulb. At the ride in March she came into the first vet check showing no signs of any problems. The only concern was that the vet heard the arrhythmia because she was listening for longer than the usual time.  So I want to encourage people to follow the advice below. Really get to know your horse's heart. Listen to it a lot and for long periods of time. Perle may have had this condition for her whole life and it just was never caught before now. When she is at rest it only happens about once every 5 minutes and was happening during the ride about once every minute and half to two minutes, so listening for just 15 seconds or even 60 seconds may not always catch a problem. I don't want to freak anybody out and make them think that their horse has a heart problem, I just want to encourage you to really get to know your horse's heart so that you will be able to tell when it is not normal. So everyone take 10 minutes today or tonight and just go listen to your horses heart.

Katrina Mosshammer

<< Horse owners who know their horses well will notice signs that their horse is not as perky as normal, and they can begin their investigation by listening to the horse themselves. "Any horse owner can feel their horse's pulse or use a cheap stethoscope and listen and get familiar with what your horse's normal heart rate and rhythms are," Barton says. "If you have a horse that is showing signs of reduced performance, shortness of breath or rapid breathing, or that they take a really long time to recover after exercise, listening to their heart might tip you off."

"Horse owners can get to know their horse's heart rate and know what they feel like--or, using a stethoscope, sound like--at rest, after light work, and after heavy work," Nelson advises. "They can hear how quickly the heart rate comes down after work. Get a good feel of what's normal for your horse, and you are more likely to pick up abnormalities."

And, if you feel that something's not right, seek medical help. "Anytime a horse has something wrong with its heart, you've got to be cautious," McGurrin instructs. "You've got to be aware that the horse has something wrong with it, and be a little bit more careful."

Take-Home Message

Nelson advises horse owners to ask their veterinarians to listen to their animal's heart during routine visits. "It's a good idea to get routine health checks and to ask the veterinarian to listen to the heart rate and rhythm," she says. "Even if they were listened to last year, things can change in a year." These routine exams help the specialists determine how long the problem has been in existence.

"Sometimes long- standing problems are a lot harder to deal with than if it's a recent occurrence of a rhythm disturbance," she adds. >>



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