Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tracking Clinical Signs

Not every horse owner has the resources for serial testing - repeated blood work or imaging - to judge the effectiveness of a medication or treatment and may need to learn how to objectively use clinical signs to assess their horse's progress.

"So, take some paper and write down (really write it down, as a week from now it will be fuzzy) his overall appearance, how much back sag he has, if his eyes are clear or goopy, his coat condition, etc. being as objective as you can.

Rate his attitude on a scale from 0 to 10 (0 depressed, lethargic - 10 happy,curious), his activity (0 lying down all the time - 10 galloping with tail flagged), your assessment of his hoof pain (0 can't put weight on foot for trimming - 10 sound on gravel at trot, maybe a 5 for sound at a trot in boots), sweating (0 for anhydrosis - 10 for excessive sweating).

Put a brief word description next to each score to remind you exactly what you meant when you re-score him in a few days or a week. Take a picture or two to go with, put the pages away in his notebook. 

Do this again in 4-7 days and compare it to the first assessment, then decide if you feel his medication should be increased or if he's shown improvement and you'll hold steady." 

Providing an ongoing objective assessment record can be a valuable tool for working with your veterinarian and keep both of you from guessing if a treatment is effective.  You can view or download the Clinical Signs Tracker here.

Update - using the tracker can help you assess how well your anti-allergy program is working!

Best regards,

Patti in Vail AZ

where it's finally seasonally warm and lovely



  1. Definitely worth noting on a regular basis so that you can refer back and see any changes that have occured!

    As horses arrived on the stud at work, we'd take a photo too just in case :)

    1. Photos are definitely useful - we tend to notice things in photos that we may miss when right there with the horse.