Normal Ranges: Pulse
The pulse is the rate at which the left ventricle of the heart is pumping blood to the rest of the body. It is measured in units of beats/minute. It can be felt at blood vessels in several regions of the body; including the jaw line (facial artery), along the back of the coronet band (digital arteries), along the cannon bones (lateral dorsal metatarsal artery), or inside the flank (femoral artery).
How to Take a Pulse
We will practice accessing these areas during the hands-on training. Please note that further away from the heart you are trying to feel the pulse the harder it may be to feel.
The normal pulse rate for a horse is 36-42 beats per minute. Pulse rate is an important measure of health because it not only indicates if the heart is not functioning properly, but also indicates if an area of the body is not receiving sufficient circulation (weak or fluttery) or excessive circulation (pulsing or rapid pulse). After exercise the pulse can increase to 180 beats per minute but should return to about 60 beats per minute after 10 to 15 minutes of rest.
In eastern medicine, the pulse is one of the most important diagnostic tools. The pulses can be measured not only by their rate but by their quality and rhythm.
Remember when measuring a pulse rate to use the fingers, but never the thumb, as you may confuse your own pulse (felt in the thumb) with that of the horse.