Deciding if a horse is in pain is a matter of knowing what to look for.
Persistent, severe pain can cause weight loss, changes in eating and sleeping patterns and modifications in normal behaviour.
But the greatest difficulty lies in detecting mild, but persistent pain, which may occur due to long-standing conditions such as a sore back or an arthritic limb.
Signs of acute pain include:
• A pulse rate of more than one beat per second (ie 60 beats a minute)
• An increased respiratory rate
• A raised temperature
• Colic: Never forget that this is a key sign of pain
For the full article on pain management, see Horse & Hound (12 August, ’10)