How to Check a Horse's Digital Pulse

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How to Check a Horse's Digital Pulse. Checking the digital pulse helps evaluate pain and inflammation in foot and hoof. Finding the pulse at your horse's foot takes experience and expertise, but most people can learn the basics with some practice.

Things You'll Need

  • Local Horse Magazines
  • National Horse Magazines
  • Horse Brushes
  • Horse Reins

Ask your veterinarian to locate and point out your horse's digital arteries, which are on the inside and outside of each leg at the level of the fetlock and pastern.

Palpate on the inside and outside of each leg, toward the back of the midpastern or fetlock at the level of the sesamoid bones.

Note how strong the pulse is. A normal horse should have a pulse that is very slight or difficult to feel.

Compare findings among all four feet to judge if one foot in particular is abnormal.

Know that if the pulses of more than one foot are increased, it could indicate a systemic and not a localized problem.

Contact your veterinarian if you detect a strong digital pulse.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check the digital pulse when your horse is healthy to determine what's normal for her; you'll then be able to recognize abnormalities.
  • The case for foals (young horses) is the opposite of that for adult horses - the digital pulse of a foal should be easily palpable and a weak pulse should be of concern.
  • A strong digital pulse can indicate pain associated with a foot abscess, bruise, laminitis or lameness.

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