Our team of horse insurance experts here at SEIB are well versed in dealing with unwell horses - from their own horses right through to helping their clients make horse insurance claims to manage, or treat illness.

As with humans, one of the first indicators of illness in a horse is a fever. A temperature reading of between 37.5 – 38.5 degrees Celsius (99 – 101 degrees fahrenheit) is considered normal. For some horses their normal temperature may lie toward the upper or lower side of these figures. It is generally accepted that by taking your horse’s temperature regularly you will know what is normal for them and can then react quickly should it begin to fluctuate.

An elevated temperature in a horse can indicate the onset of a serious illness or infection such as equine influenza or strangles. If your horse has a raised temperature, it is important to seek veterinary advice immediately.

Steps to take

Unlike with a human, we cannot explain to a horse that they need their temperature taken. To take a horse’s temperature it is helpful to have a helper to hold the horse. Standing to the side of the horse, lift the tail and gently insert the thermometer into the rectum. Ensure the thermometer rests against the side wall of the rectum to gain an accurate reading. Take great care to keep hold of the thermometer and not let it disappear inside the rectum. Speaking to the horse whilst taking their temperature can help reassure them.

It is advisable to use a specialist equine thermometer with a sturdy plastic end to ensure that you are able to keep hold of it whilst taking the temperature. Some digital thermometers have a lead between the probe and the reader for assurance that the thermometer will not disappear inside the horse.

Redwings Horse Sanctuary run an annual Strangles Awareness Week and as part of the 2023 campaign they caught up with Piggy March, who shows how to take your horse's temperature in the below video:

How often should you take a horse's temperature?

Regularly taking your horse’s temperature ensures that not only do you know what temperature is normal for them but also that it becomes a routine event for them. Should your horse become unwell, having their temperature taken should then not add to the stress of the illness as they will be used to it. In taking your horse’s temperature regularly, it will also improve your confidence in carrying out the procedure, ensuring that should your horse fall ill, you will be well prepared to accurately read the temperature and take the appropriate action.

About SEIB

SEIB have been arranging insurance for horses for 60 years. This experience allows us to tailor policies to suit your circumstances and ensure that you and your horses are covered should the worst happen.