Keeping accurate records of your horse's health needn't be a burdonsome chore, and the information it will provide may be the vital key to quickly spotting a potential horse health problem. You can't expect your vet to be intimately familiar with your particular horse's vital signs, or remember when he last came out to give vaccinations, let alone know when you last dewormed your horse. And in the case where your own vet is unavailable and you have to call another vet, without some sort of reference, they will be working blind.
So, what records need to be kept? It's really up to the individual, but the more information you keep track of, the more useful it may turn out to be. When I got my first horse, you could say I was a little over-enthusiastic in my note-keeping. My bulging "Horse Journal" was filled in every day and included my own observations of my mare's temperament and training sessions, as well as records of shoeing, vaccinations and other treatments. The journal had a pouch where I kept vet bills and the annual Coggins result so it was to hand when needed. When an insidious, on-again/off-again lameness kept side-lining her, my extensive records of our training sessions in which she was unwilling to pick up a particular lead proved helpful to the vet in narrowing down the source of the lameness.
Ideally, you need to organize your horse's life so important things don't get forgotten. And since many horse health-related tasks, such as deworming, farrier visits, vaccinations, etc. should be done at regular intervals, you can easily keep track of them by marking a calendar in advance as to what is due and when. Having the calendar posted in a prominent spot will help you remember to call and make the necessary appointments at the appropriate time. Having a list of phone numbers next to the phone helps too!
What should you keep track of? Here are the basics which will ensure that both you and your vet have an accurate picture of your horse's medical status.
- Deworming - In addition to marking on your calendar when your horse is due to be dewormed, make a note of which product is used each time you deworm your horse.
- Farrier visits - make a note of each farrier visit and the work done.
- Vaccinations - make a note of all vaccinations that your horse receives.
- Medications - make a note of any drugs your horse recieves, along with the dosage, whether it's ongoing EPM treatment, an antibiotic or whatever.
- Minor Injuries - make a note of any minor injuries that you treat yourself and how you care for them.
- Veterinary Visits - make a note of every visit your vet makes to your horse (or your horse to the vet), the reason for the visit, the treatment etc. as well as any prescribed follow-up treatment. Make a note of any diagnostic tests performed, so you can follow up with the vet later.
- Dentistry - horses teeth need to be checked for uneven growth and wear on a regular basis. Make a note when your horse's teeth are floated, or
when any other dental procedures are performed, such as the removal of wolf teeth.
Your horse's temperature, pulse and respiratory rate are important indicators of his general health. Knowing what is normal for your horse will allow you to quickly notice and respond to any abnormalities. Take your horses's T.P.R. often and mark down the readings, the time of day, the temperature etc. so you can establish a base line. Keep these figures in your journal for future reference.
That's really all the basic information you need for your horse's medical journal. You can get more comprehensive if you want, creating a complete file on your horse, with photographs, pedigree information etc., or you can include a competition journal, or breeding journal as appropriate. This information is not only useful to you, but will be very important when you sell you horse to allow his new owners an insight into his previous life with you.