TAKE A CLOSER LOOK
• Inspect the discharge. Make note of its color, odor, quantity and consistency. Note the presence of any foreign material such as chewed foodstuffs, dust or debris, and whether it’s coming from one or both nostrils. If your phone is handy, take photos to share with your veterinarian and to keep track of changes over time.
• Observe your horse’s demeanor. Does he seem “dull” or lethargic? Conversely, is he acting anxious or stressed? Has he been eating and drinking normally? Is he coughing?
• Check his vital signs. Is he running a fever? Check his pulse: An elevated heart rate in a resting horse could be an indication of pain. If your horse coughs, has a fever and shows other signs of illness in addition to a runny nose, a respiratory disease may be developing and you’ll need to call the veterinarian.
On the other hand, if your horse’s nasal discharge is clear and watery, and he
otherwise seems well, then it’s probably nothing to worry about. He most likely inhaled a bit of hay or dust that caused some localized irritation in his nasal passages. Or perhaps he got a bit of dust in his eye, and the excess tears are draining through his nostrils. Wipe the moisture away, but keep an eye on your horse to make sure the discharge does not return.
A trickle of bright-red blood that stops within minutes is also probably nothing to worry about. Your horse most likely scratched the interior of one nostril on a stick in the grass or a stemmy piece of hay.