How to do a T-P-R

Temperature, Pulse, Respiration

By performing a simple and quick examination you can get loads of information about your horses physical state. This is a quick and easy exam that all horse owners should be familiar with

The tools you need for this exam include:
1. Thermometer
2. Watch (or clock of some kind)
3. Stethoscope (optional)

Step 1: Temperature
Taking your horse’s temperature is one of the easiest things that you can do if you are worried that they aren’t feeling well. You can use a simple digital thermometer for this. I recommend using a little but of lubricant (some water or spit works great) to make things smoother. Simply lift the tail, insert into the rectum and wait for the beep. A horse’s temperature should be <101.5*F under normal resting circumstances. An elevated temperature after hard work is normal, but is should come down to normal values within an hour.












Step 2: Pulse
This is probably the most challenging portion of the exam. Get your watch or cell phone ready to keep track of time. If you have a stethoscope place just behind the left elbow and listen for a heart beat. Count the number of beats per minute. If you do not have a stethoscope, don’t worry. You can easily feel a horse’s pulse by finding the transverse facial artery. This artery is palpable just under the “cheek” of the horse. If you roll your hands back and forth on the bottom and side of the horse’s head, you will feel an artery about as thick as a pencil. Rest your fingers here gently and you will be able to feel your horse’s pulse.

Here is a great video on how to feel a pulse from

How to check your horse’s pulse

A normal heart rate for an adult horse is between 30-40 beats per minute. A foal will have a significantly higher normal heart rate at 70-120bpm. Heart rate will increase with exercise, but should return to normal within minutes. An elevated heart rate can be an indication of pain or distress.
Step 3: Respiration
Keep your watch or cell phone out for this. This one is super easy. All you have to do is take a step back from your horse and watch their barrell. While you are keeping track of time, count the number of breaths that they take. The respiratory rate in a normal adult horse at rest is less than 20 breaths per minute. 


Well. there you go! Now you are prepared to perform a T-P-R to assess your horse. If you are concerned about your horse, take a quick second to do a T-P-R before you call your vet. You can tell them the results of your exam when you call.

Here is a great “cheat sheet” from It is a good idea to print this out and hang it somewhere in your barn.