When you're not feeling well, you probably don't act like your usual self: you may be less energetic than usual, or even a little bit cranky. Horses are no different; they often display behaviors that can let you know that they aren't feeling one hundred percent. Sometimes these behaviors can tip you off to a medical problem before you spot any physical symptoms, which can allow you to get treatment as early as possible. Take a look at some equine behavior changes that can be a sign of a health problem.
Does your horse seem more excitable and restless than usual? When a horse displays signs of excess excitability, like constant circling, repeatedly pressing their head against a solid object, or abnormal reflex reactions, it can signal a problem with the nervous system, especially if the periods of excitability are alternated with periods where your horse has an abnormally low response to stimuli.
If your horse begins behaving in an aggressive manner or shows signs of severe agitation, that could be a sign of rabies. Contact your vet right away if you notice these behaviors.
Does your horse seem to be moving in slow motion? Maybe the horse isn't doing anything that's obviously unusual but just seems slower to respond and slower to move than usual.
This could be a sign that your horse is running a fever. Just like you, your horse will feel run down and tired when they have a fever since their body is using their energy to fight the infection. Take your horse's temperature and look for other signs that your horse might have an infection, such as a runny nose, a cough, or loss of appetite.
Eating with Their Head Sideways
Do you notice your horse holding their head at an angle while they eat? They may even drop grain as they chew with their head in this position. This could be a sign of a dental problem.
If you've ever had a toothache and couldn't get to the dentist right away, you've probably experienced trying to chew only on the side of the mouth that isn't painful. That's what your horse is doing. The horse may have a tooth infection, or just a tooth with a sharp edge that needs to be filed. Either way, a visit to an equine dentist is in order.
Behaving Differently with the Herd
Watch how your horse behaves around other horses. Does the horse usually lead the group or travel in the middle of the herd, but today the horse is off by itself? That could be a sign of a lameness issue; if your horse is in pain, it won't try to keep up with the crowd.
If your horse is unusually aggressive with other horses, that could also be a sign of a health problem. In mares, hormone imbalances can cause a previously friendly mare to act out around other horses.
Your horse's behavior can reveal a lot about their health. Keep a close eye on it to ensure that your horse stays healthy and gets medical care early when necessary. Contact a specialized company like Alabama Performance Horse Services with any other questions regarding your horse's health.