Normal Ranges: Respiration
The respiration is the rate of breathing. Respiration is measured in breaths per minute. One breath is considered both the inhale and exhale phase.
How to Take a Respiratory Rate
To measure respiration, you can look at the chest or ribcage and count the rise and fall of the ribcage. If this is difficult to see then resting a hand over the ribcage will allow you to feel the rise and fall of the chest. You can also use your hand or a mirror held in front of the nostrils to feel or “see” the breath. The horse may sniff at the mirror providing a false count.
A normal respiratory rate is 8-12 breaths per minute. You may choose to count the breaths for one full minute or any fraction of a minute and then multiply it. A horse at rest should have an even and regular respiration without excessive noise. After exercise a horse’s respiratory rate may increase.
Conditions that can lead to a depressed (or slower) respiratory rate include good athletic conditioning, poisoning, shock (later stages)and hypothermia.
Conditions that can lead to an increased respiratory rate include exercise, pain, fever, hyperthermia, shock (early stages), anxiety.