Getting Started

Getting the true core temperature of your horse

By Janet Bull

The pictures basically tell the story. The day this display happened was a very hot October day late in the afternoon. The volunteer horse was standing quietly and had not been running around prior to the procedure. It is important that your horse is comfortable with you handling its tail and hind quarters. Lifting the tail and touching its anus should be a daily routine. Temperature taking only requires 30 seconds of your time. Keep an old thermometer in your grooming kit. When you brush the hindquarters, take a minute, take the temp, and don’t make an issue out of it and your horse will be safer for everyone involved.
The thermometer pictured has been marked in 1 centimetre calibrations. Note the different readings according to how far the thermometer is inserted. As you can see in the trial there is almost a 2 degree difference between the first and last recording even though this demonstration spans only a few minutes.

As you can see in the pictures, you need to insert the thermometer fully and then tip the point to the side, so it is resting on the wall of the rectum. Poking it straight in will not give a core temp. You will not hurt the horse if you are gentle and use a lubricant on the tip. Vaseline is good. Wait till the thermometer has settled on a temp. It usually keeps rising then will stop, lock and then beep. Once it has beeped it will not rise any further. You have to start again if you want to do it again.

With a huge emphasis on health declarations now, recording temps at home have to be accurate. It is important that we do this correctly even if the temp is a little bit high. The weather has a huge influence on core temperature. With the extreme temps we have all experienced it is normal to have a higher temp. Remember high temperature is not the only symptom of a sick horse. When you get a temp over 38.5, you need to look at the horse with a wide screen. Happy temp taking.