Heart Murmurs

Mr friend booked in with the vet to have her mare’s teeth rasped last week. The mare, despite being older and supposedly sensible, still needs sedating to have her teeth done.

When the vet arrived he had a listen to her heart before sedating her. My friend realised something was amiss when he listened to both sides for a second time with a concerned look on his face.

The mare has a heart murmur.

The vet still sedated her and rasped her teeth before advising that my friend had her scanned to see the extent of the heart murmur and damage so that they could plan her future care.

So on Thursday the vet came again, with the ultrasound scanner. In all it took about two hours for him to thoroughly examine her heart and rhythm. He didn’t have the ECG equipment with him but felt that her murmur was stable enough that an ECG could be carried out in a months time, when they could also assess to see if there was any development in the murmur.

The type of heart murmur that this mare has is Aortic Regurgitation, which is associated with older horses. The mare has slight thickening to that valve, but the murmur on Thursday was slightly less than on Monday, when it was heard originally.

We don’t know how long the mare has had this heart murmur, but she is sedated to have her teeth done annually, so in theory it is a recent development. My friend has had to take the decision to cut down on the mares workload; she can still school her as it is steady, and this sort of exercise will help keep her fit and supple, so she is less likely to injure herself or to suffer from any other age related problems. In terms of hacking, the vet said absolutely no galloping (which will be devastating news to the mare as she loves her galloping) and also for my friend to be aware that she may tire more easily and if so adjust the hack to go back home a quicker route or at a steadier pace.

When the ECG is performed the vet will be able to see if the murmur has worsened, and then go from there in terms of how often she is checked out.

My friend has done the right thing in terms of having her horse scanned, so that she knows how to exercise and care best for the horse, but I don’t think she should over worry in the day to day life because her mare is a fighter, and has probably had a little problem there for a long time. If her mare is happy and comfortable in life then that’s the main thing.

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