Horse Vital Signs Part 2 – What Is My Horse’s Normal Heart Rate?

  1. Horse Vital Signs Part 1 – What Is My Horse’s Normal Temperature?
  2. Horse Vital Signs Part 2 – What Is My Horse’s Normal Heart Rate?
  3. Horse Vital Signs Part 3 – What Is My Horse’s Normal Respiration Rate?
  4. Capillary refill time (CRT) and hydration skin pinch test in horses explained.

Check your horses’ vital signs when they are at rest so you can determine what is normal.

A cool fact about your horse’s heart:

The resting heart will pump about 10 gallons of blood per minute. When working at maximum capacity it can pump 65 to 75 gallons of blood per minute!

What’s normal?

A normal resting heart rate for an adult horse ranges from 28 to 44 beats per minute. Horses that are extremely fit may have even lower resting heart rates.

Horses with a resting heart rate of over 50 bpm that seem otherwise normal should be evaluated. Horses with high resting heart rates and additional symptoms of unsoundness or illness may need medical attention.

Newborn foals have a heart rate of 80 to 100 beats per minute. Within several weeks the heart will have slowed to 60 to 80 beats per minute. The heart rate continues to decline as the horse grows; by the time the horse is 2 years old the heart rate has dropped to 45 to 65 beats per minute.

Heart rates increase during exercise. The larger and fitter the horse, the lower the heart rate tends to be.

Walking: around 80 beats per minute
Trotting: around 130 beats per minute
Cantering: around 180 beats per minute
Galloping: around 200 beats per minute

Maximum heart rate is 200 to 240 beats per minute

Evaluating fitness:

A fit horse’s heart rate will return to normal within 15 minutes after exercise has ended.
A horse that is working toward increasing his fitness level will recover within 30 minutes.
A horse that is exercising beyond his fitness level will take longer than 30 minutes to recover.

Increased fitness is demonstrated by faster recovery and lower heart rates.

What can cause an abnormal increase in resting heart rate

  • Excitement
  • Stress
  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Illness

If your horse has an unexplained increased heart rate or isn’t recovering after exercise, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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