Taking your horse’s digital pulse can provide you with insight into what is going on with them and make you better with horse management.

It can help you assess where lameness is coming from, whether it is in the foot or higher up the leg. As most horse owners know, determining the location of lameness can be frustrating at best and seemingly impossible at worst.

In a healthy comfortable foot, the pulse will feel very faint when you check. Feeling a strong pulse is indicative of inflammation as blood flow gets backed up when inflammation is present. The deeper or stronger the pulse, the more inflammation is present. For instance, in a foundered horse you will feel a very strong bounding digital pulse.

Of course, the trick is establishing a baseline of what is normal for your horse and learning to recognize any variations. If you are diligent about checking frequently you will soon recognize a pattern and have another easy tool for keeping your horse sound and happy.

So here is the quick and dirty guide to checking your horse’s digital pulse:

  1. Slide your hand down the out leg to the outside of the fetlock joint and feel for a cordlike bundle that rolls or snaps under your finger. This “cord” is actually a bundle of nerve, artery, and vein and is your window to the digital pulse.

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  1. Apply pressure to this cord for 5 to 10 seconds until you can feel a pulse. Experiment with how much pressure you need-there is a happy balance between too much (closes the vein off and you won’t feel anything) and not enough (you won’t feel anything). Experiment and develop a feel for this!

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  1. Follow steps 1 and 2 on the remaining 3 legs. You can now compare the legs on each other and to what is normal for your horse.

Remember, it is increasing strength, not speed that you are feeling for. Anytime that you feel throbbing you can be fairly certain that there is a health issue. Checking the digital pulse can tell you if there is a bruise, an abscess forming, or other inflammation deeper in the hoof capsule. Stronger pulses in two or more feet may be indicative of early laminitis.  If you find you need a therapy boot for these types of issues, look no further than the Easyboot Rx.

Early detection of hoof ailments can save pain, money, and heartache when it comes to treatment and get you and your horse back to your usual activities faster. I hope that you will make checking the digital pulse part of your routine and remember to use caution anytime you are working around a horse that may be in pain.

Rebecca Balboni


Customer Service Representative

A lifetime of riding and showing sport horses has given me a deep appreciation for the importance of soundness and comfort on performance. Let me help elevate your equine experience by finding the right boot for your horse and unique situation.