I am very much surprised in the number of horse folks that don’t even own a thermometer. This product truly belongs on the list of horsemen’s “Essentials”.
Any professional trainer who handles pricey horses knows well of the importance that this tool has for the well being of horses, however, this should not be limited to expensive horses only. This product is affordable and easily attainable. There is no excuse for not having this important tool in the stable. If a horseman doesn’t own a thermometer it pretty much states just how much he cares about the horse.
Here is why:
It is very difficult (if not impossible) for the human eye or hand to determine whether the horse has a fever or not (forget the “hot ears” and any nonsense like that). When a horse suffers from viral illness (common cause in respiratory diseases), it demonstrates itself usually in the first day only in the elevated temperature of the horse. In many cases there are no other noticeable signs, except that the horse doesn’t act as lively as usual (often goes unnoticed). This could be very devastating to the animal should he go out and perform his work or exercise especially in gallop. In some cases it could even mean the end of his career, especially in case where there is a greater demand on his lungs when performing his tasks. Working the horse hard in such case for a longer period (like going team penning, long trail rides etc) could run the fever very high and even trigger a acute foundering of your horse.
One other important need for the thermometer is, that it is handy to established the seriousness of the horse’s other time more apparent ill condition. When we then contact our veterinarian, we can inform him more about the details of the horse’s condition.
Whenever we are ready to tack our horse up, we usually groom him or at least brush him off (anyway, I hope you are doing it). It is then very simple to put the thermometer up the horse’s butt before you start and when done grooming, just take it out and read it. It is very simple task and anyone can do it. You do not lose any time at all. It is down outright effortless and it could prove itself to be a lifesaver to your horse. I strongly suggest that the frequent monitoring of your horse’s temperature should become your habit, especially before strenuous work. That is if you really care.
Your thermometer should be kept clean. Shake it down, at least below 98’. With your finger check the thermometer for any damages, as they can often and easily chip off (the glass ones of course). Most folks usually just spit on the end part that gets inserted. It is recommended that you use the thermometer that has an eyelet on the end (Fig.5). It should have a string running through it which is then attached to various fastening gadgets, like for example clothes pin. This serves to secure the Thermometer to the horses tail to prevent it from losing it (Fig.2), should it fall out. Two minutes will do in most cases, but you can leave it there till you get done grooming (Fig.4). No need for timing it in that case. It is important that you establish some regular system when doing it, while grooming. Less you will forget it and go for a ride with a thermometer hanging down your horse’s tail.
Do not force the thermometer in, when inserting! Rinse it off after every use and store in the casing (the casing is usually included with the thermometer when purchased). You can leave the string attached. The top of the casing will still partially screw on, depending on the thickness of the string (Fig.1).
I believe that the temperature is OK if it is between 99’ and 101’. Between 101’ and 102’ I consider it as mildly elevated temperature. 103’ and up I consider it to be a genuine fever and a need for contacting a veterinarian immediately. All this however, depends on the elements and circumstances. If you take your horse’s temperature more often and about the same times, you will get to know better what is normal for him. To know this will help you discover many forms of ailment in their first stages and/or their distressfulness.