How To Tell If A Horse Is Sound

How To Tell If A Horse Is Sound


When you’re choosing a horse, soundness is the #1 trait to look for. After all, no amount of training can make up for an unsound horse! To ensure your new equine partner is as healthy as possible and that you aren’t spending money on vet bills when you could be spending it on fun stuff like more horses, feed, and tack, we’ve compiled a list of things to look out for when determining whether or not a horse is sound:

Listen to that heartbeat.

The most important thing to look for when listening to a horse’s heartbeat is evenly spaced regularity. You should be able to count at least one beat per second and the time between beats should be consistent. If you hear irregular or fast beats, it could be a sign of trouble.

The heart rate should increase when the horse is moving, but not too much – anything more than 20 beats per minute higher than normal may signal an issue with blood flow and circulation in that particular area of their body. The best way to check this is with a stethoscope; however, if you don’t have one handy then simply listening closely will suffice (the horse will usually tell you if something seems off).

Watch those legs.

If you’re not sure whether a horse is sound, take a look at its legs. When you stand on the ground and look at the horse from the side and from behind, check for any abnormalities in how it stands or moves. If you notice any problems with a limb or joint, there may be cause for concern about how the rest of its body functions as well.

When you’re watching your subject walk or trot, take note of how its legs move; if one leg is moving differently than another (e.g., it’s taking more steps to cover equal distance), that could indicate an issue with that particular limb. This can be especially true when looking at movement from behind because some issues are harder to detect otherwise—for example: if there are any signs of lameness while walking on flat ground but perfectly healthy while galloping across rugged terrain where most people wouldn’t notice anything wrong with them until they slow down again (if ever).

Be careful of the teeth.

As you check the teeth, look for wear, cracks and chips.

Wear on a horse’s teeth can be an indicator of age, although not always the case. A horse that has been getting lots of exercise may have more wear than one that is mostly kept at home in a stall. If your horse is only ridden once or twice per week and spends most of its time at pasture with other horses (or left alone), then it will probably have very little wear on its teeth.

However, if you notice signs of advanced dental disease such as sharp projections emerging from the gum line or some discoloration on your pony’s teeth—even if they are white—it might be time to get them checked out by your vet. Chances are nothing is wrong with them but it never hurts to be safe!

Watch the movement carefully.

  • Watch the movement carefully. The way a horse moves is extremely important, as it can give you clues about how he’s feeling.
  • Look at how he steps from front to back, whether there is any unevenness in his gait and whether he favors one side over another.
  • Watch the feet as they touch down on each step — are they landing evenly? Or do they seem to favor a particular leg or foot? If so, what might be causing that?
  • Look at his knees when he is moving; if they appear to buckle or collapse inward, this could be an indication of pain or injury in that area.

Watch how they interact with other horses.

Watch how they interact with other horses. A sound horse will have a healthy interaction with other horses, whether they are playing or not. They may play fight, but they should never start a fight unless it is serious play fighting. If there is a broken leg or other injury that makes it difficult for the horse to move, then it may be best to keep them separated from others until they heal and are able to run around again on their own accord.

Horses that are not sound do not interact well with others at all. They can be aggressive towards other horses and even humans if they feel threatened by something in their environment (this includes running away from things that frighten them). Some times a horse will become frightened of another person because of something related to its past experiences (like being hit by an object thrown by an angry man) which could cause aggression later on in life when faced with similar situations again.”

Listen and feel for scratching.

  • Listen and feel for scratching. Horses will often scratch themselves with their hind legs, especially when they are uncomfortable. They may also scrape their tail against the ground or fence, which is a sign of discomfort caused by insects or external parasites. Scratching is not an indication of soundness; it’s just one possible sign of being uncomfortable in some way (and there are plenty more).
  • Listen for other unusual sounds horses make when they’re doing something that should be natural but isn’t as easy as it used to be—for instance, eating grass or rolling in dust holes. A horse who has trouble chewing properly because his teeth aren’t aligned correctly might make clicking noises while eating hay or lead pellets (or if he’s only eating one side of his mouth). If he cannot chew effectively enough on rough food like grasses and weeds, he might swallow small stones that get stuck in his esophagus (or even further down). This can cause colic and/or choke a horse from the inside out.*

Watch how they walk with you on halter.

The first place to look is how they walk with you on halter. If a horse is off or lame, there will be a noticeable difference in the way they walk. They may not carry their head high and proud, but rather keep it tucked in to protect an injured area. They might also favor one side over another, as one side of their body hurts more than another and they’re trying to avoid putting any pressure on that area.

Another thing you can look for while observing your horse’s movement is his reaction towards you after he has been ridden or worked (or just exercised). Does he linger around the arena, eager for more attention? If so, this could be evidence of hyperkinesis—a sign that points toward a lack of emotional maturity and self-discipline. On the other hand, if he’s clearly tired after exercise but still cantankerous when being led back into his stall, then this could indicate some pent-up energy within him that needs an outlet such as training or riding

See where they place their weight.

You can see where a horse places its weight when you look at their movement. To determine if a horse is sound, take note of how they stand, walk and trot. If the horse places more weight on the front quarters than the hindquarters, it may be unsound (although this isn’t always true). A good way to check for this is by looking at where their hooves are landing after each step. You should be able to see if one side or another has more impact than the other when they take each step; if there’s no difference in where their feet land, then that usually means they’re balanced and sound.

Sound horses aren’t always easy, but they’re worth it!

Sound horses aren’t always easy, but they’re worth it. You will have to work to keep a sound horse sound. You will have to be a good rider to keep a sound horse sound. Sound horses are worth the effort. Sound horses are better riders and more enjoyable to ride than unsound ones. They’re also more likely to become champions when you do decide to show them—and isn’t winning the ultimate goal in life?


If you think the horse is sound, then you should set up a vet check to get a professional opinion. If it isn’t sound, you can be confident in your decision not to buy the horse and move on to looking at another prospect.

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