Dr. Donna

Dr. Donna K. Fernandez, D.V.M.

HorseAid Consulting Veterinarian


What are the normals? How do you get them? If you don't feel comfortable taking them then ask your Veterinarian at his/her next visit with you. The important ones you should know are as follows:

HEART RATE.....36-44 beats/minute (this can decrease with conditioning and increase with pain or excitement). Heart blocks can also affect rate. Ask your Veterinarian if your horse has one.

RESPIRATORY RATE.....12-16 breaths/minute (this will increase with exercise, stress or disease).

TEMPERATURE.....~99-101.2 degrees (this can vary with exercise, ambient temperature, and/or disease).


CAPILLARY REFILL TIME.....<1-2 seconds.

SKIN TURGOR.....< 1 second (used to help assess hydration).

GI MOTILITY.....gut sounds of varying intensity are usually always present.

STOOL ..... quantity and consistency varies slightly with each individual. Know your horse's normals.

DIGITAL PULSE.....should be non palpable to slight. (stronger usually indicates inflammation or disease).

HOOF TEMPERATURE.....usually ambient to luke warm. (cold or warm to hot usually indicates disease)

Remember, these normals are meant only to serve as guidelines. Each individual can vary slightly depending on many factors. Start getting to know your horse. Then, when the time comes, you'll be able to better decide when he/she needs help.
Always ask your Veterinarian any questions you have during a visit. This is how you learn and that is what they're there for!



Chiropractic is a holistic approach to many of the health and performance problems of the horse. It does not replace traditional veterinary medicine but provides an alternative or adjunctive treatment. Chiropractic focuses on the health and proper functioning of the spinal column and joints which thereby allows the nervous system to maintain homeostasis. If done improperly or too aggressively, chiropractic can lead to severe problems. It is very unwise to allow a lay person or any untrained, or non certified individual to adjust your horse. The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association provides the only intense courses of study in this country. The course includes both lecture and laboratory format with full certification achieved only upon completion of written and oral practical exams and three case studies. To provide only the highest and safest quality chiropractic, the association only accepts licensed human chiropractors and veterinarians into the course. You should know that in the state of California, it is illegal for anyone other than a licensed veterinarian or licensed chiropractor, (under the direct supervision of a veterinarian), to do chiropractic on your horse.


This is the term used in chiropractic to describe a vertebrae that is "stuck" and not moving through it's full range of motion. This will cause a horse to compensate in movement or posture. Subluxations/Fixations can occur from a multitude of causes such as trauma, trailering, poor fitting equipment, confinement, birth, shoeing, etc...


Abnormal posture, or abnormal head carriage. Discomfort when saddling or riding. Resenting or refusal to perform collected gaits, lateral movement, or jumps. Wringing of tail. Unusual or undefinable gait abnormalities. Stiffness, rope walking, plaiting, shortened stride in one or more limbs. Difficulty in flexing at the poll, inability to engage in rear. And the list goes on.....


Chiropractors are trained to locate subluxations/fixations. A certified chiropractor will look at the entire horse as well as the spine. Many times the extremities will need adjustments! After a complete history is taken, gait and performance will be evaluated. Then range of motion of all spinal and extremital joints will be evaluated. The exam will also include muscle palpation, bone palpation, conformation and shoeing analyses. The chiropractor will adjust the horse with manual technique or an activator. Boards such as 2x4's, tractors and hammers ARE NOT required to do good chiropractic! The certified practitioner will also discuss with you; saddle fit, shoeing, equipment, conditioning and other possible therapeutics. Listen, and you will learn a lot from a certified doctor.

For more information on animal chiropractic and the name of a certified chiropractor in your area please call: American Veterinary Chiropractic Association - 309.523.3995

Written by Donna K. Fernandez D.V.M., C.A.C., C.A.Ap.

Farrier Frank

Frank Affinito, H.S.W.T., Certified Master Farrier

HorseAid Consulting Farrier


Good feet don't just come from your farrier alone. It takes dedication and the cooperation of the owner from the time your farrier drives away to the time he returns. Listed below are just a few suggestions on how you can help to keep nice feet on your horse.


It is very important to put your horse on a schedule. Each horse is different in how fast their hooves grow (most horses go between 6 to 8 weeks). So find what's best for your horse and keep to that schedule.

Picking Your Horse's Feet:

I believe picking your horses feet morning and night is a must (unless you stall your horse; then once a day is OK). I've found some neat stuff stuck or packed up in the bottom of some hooves! Just put a rock in your shoe and walk around all day: that's what it feels like to a horse. Also, you may notice a shoe coming off or twisted; the faster your farrier can come and fix the problem, the better.

Proper Boarding:

Your horse needs a dry place to stand. It's not good for a horse to be standing in mud and or wet ground for long periods of time. Think of it as if the hoof were like your fingernail. When your fingernail stays wet for a long time it becomes waterlogged and soft. The same thing happens to a horse's hoof, except when the hoof becomes soft and waterlogged the shoe is easily pulled off and usually rips the hoof apart. Horses without shoes can also rip their feet apart by kicking at things or pawing. I've seen many of good feet destroyed this way and its not the farrier's fault.

Farrier Peter van Dyke's
Visual Guide to Events During Laminitis

The materials and/or information provided on the IGHA/HorseAid "Equine Health & Wellness" WEB Page is designed for educational and entertainment purposes only. Neither Donna K. Fernandez, DVM, Frank Affinito, nor IGHA/HorseAid is in any way engaged in providing veterinary medical services or farrier advice via this communications medium. You should not rely on any information in the web pages of the IGHA/HorseAid WEB site in lieu of a personal consultation with a veterinarian, professional farrier, or other equine health care professional. See also: Site Access Agreement.


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