well... if it makes you feel better..... i have a mare that chokes at the drop of a hat. i have had her about 3 months now and i have *seen* her choking 3 times - (in fact the last time was today) - i don't know if this has happened when i am not around. she tends to choke on pellets for sure and maybe beet pulp (i mix) ... luckily i have been able to push on her trachea and help her un-choke herself....but no fun.
so my point is: there seem to be horses that are prone to choke - and others aren't - and for the ones that are... all you can do is make sure everything is as mushy as possible - and try to help them un-choke if you can....
we also had a mare choke on beet pulp...also well-soaked. She was an OTTB mare, young (6) and I will never give her beet pulp again...it was a bad choke. I have not lost faith in beet pulp though, many of our senior citizens get it and love it...
I have a choker...His problem is he eats way too fast and has TMJ. I have to do his teeth every 6 months because even the slightest point causes a problem. No problems with hay, it's just the usual gorging on his feed. I do have three salt blocks in his bucket to slow him down. So far no chokes were vet intervened and he worked them out himself. Ugh and it's really scary to watch.
Last edited by pines4equines; Jan. 1, 2009 at 10:23 PM.
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It was beet pulp this time but it could be something else next time. I've had several horses choke on soaked beet pulp (and this is not including the time I attempted to feed it dry - NEVER do that) and I know why - they were mares fed together in a pasture and they were gulping their feed as fast as they could to keep the other mares from stealing it. Of course, once this started happening, the way they were fed had to change.
I also have a broodmare who is now 11 years old. She first choked on pelleted food when she was 4 years old and it was a bad choke which resulted in scar tissue in her esophogus. She has had a few more choke episodes despite taking major precautions with soaking her feed. I don't blame whatever it is she is choking on - I know it's just her.
So keep loving your beet pulp. I have 13 horses right now that have been eating it for 3 years who have never had a choke episode and I think that's a pretty good record .
Don't get confused between my personality & my attitude. My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are.
I had a horse choke on a cup of whole oats (and he's the slowest eater of all my horses too!). It just takes the smallest thing going down wrong to cause it. And it's scary, scary stuff when it happens. Do you put any large rocks in this horse's buckets to slow the eating too quick problem? That's always been a good thing for my bolting eaters. I'm sorry to hear your horse choked and hope it doesn't become a common thing.
I've had two choke on wet BP, and neither are particularly greedy eaters. One wasn't mine and she went home where they never feed BP, and the other was mine and I don't think I'll ever again feed it to him again. After that I'm a little leary now, but I'd still feed it if I had to; the only reason I was feeding it at all was to stretch last year's meager hay supply.
In all honestly, horses can and do choke on just about everything...especially once they've had an episode of choke.
My horse was getting a semi-sweet feed when he had his first choke. We added water, all was well for about a year. He had another episode on the semi-sweet even though it was soaked. I didn't know what else to do so I fed him in small spurts. I'd walk by, dump another handful or two into his bin until his meal was gone. He lives out 24/7 and doing this in the AM before work when I have many other chores to do was not really working out (I only feed one weekday AM and I felt it was even less convenient for the BO who feeds the other weekday AM's).
Since we couldn't feed him like that every meal he ended up having several episodes - closer and closer together each time. I'd take him off grain for a couple days, feed him a mash, etc but every couple weeks was too much. I started shopping for other feed. He's always been an easy keeper but finding the right food to keep the choke away and maintain his weight has been tricky. I finally settled on Triple Crown Senior which I didn't want because of the molassess content but he's maintaining his weight and has only choked twice *knock on wood* since he's been on that (about 8 months or so). The one time he did it the other boarder was feeding and didn't add enough water. The other time was Thanksgiving Day. No one is really sure what caused it that day but both episodes were small so it makes me think it comes from his teeth/chewing/swallowing.
He used to throw his food on the floor and eat most of it from there but as he's gotten older (he's a tb so I suppose he turned 24 today although, he never raced so I stick to his 5/12 birthdate ) he has stopped throwing his food and taken to eating slowly and daintily from his bin like a more normal horse. He used to eat pretty fast too-usually the first one done-but he's now ok with taking his time. I'm surprised he chokes now yet never did before. That's what makes me think he might not be chewing as well etc. He sees the dentist and his teeth are actually fine but...
So. Basically. Don't blame it on just one thing. That one thing might be more prone to causing it but it's possible with lots of things. And for the record-my horse has never choked on hay. If he couldn't eat his hay I don't know what I'd do - he so very much loves his hay
Worst choke I've dealt w/ was my Percheron mare (no history of choke at all) and she choked on...............you ready for it................. pasture GRASS!! My vet was convinced she'd had some corn from the neighboring field (after harvest) and she ate the cob, too. Nope, after three hours of tubing w/ several sedations w/ breaks and finally a shot of oxytocin, the giant blob of grass was cleared. The tube went clear into her stomach and we only had about 5" of it to hold onto once it finally cleared. She had it lodged waaay down there. I was scared to death for her to eat grass or hay ever again. I kept her in for a week, no hay for several days (not even the alfalfa), ate mushy food and was put on antibiotics and pain meds for the irritation of her esophogus and I could hand graze her for a few days after then reintroduce her back to the pasture. Thank GOD she's never choked again after that and was fine.
We figure she never came up to drink after she found the perfect grass patch. Wasn't so perfect after all.
The horse probably choked because he was bolting his food, and would have choked regardless of the feed - grain, hay, grass, beet pulp. I think it's incredibly dumb to feed dry beet pulp in any sort of quantity (but smaller amounts mixed in with grain is probably no more danger than my horse chewing on sticks while we trail ride. ) So if I were your friend, I wouldn't quit soaking. But I'd add 3 or 4 large, smooth stones in his bucket. They make dog bowls with plastic dividers, but I'm not sure if anything like that is available for horses??
I'm not surprised at the removal of hay. Our pony club was donated a great mare who had choked 2x on hay and the owner couldn't handle it any more. She was never to receive hay again. She had scared her throat. We kept her fine on grass and very sloppy food. In her later life she was able to go back to hay again. My STB choked one time bad and he never got dry food again. It's just too scary.
Make sure the horse gets some banamine for a few days after a choke to cut down on the inflammation caused by the choke. Over the long-term it's the scarring and swelling caused by the inflammation that will turn a horse into a repeated choker.
Also, get the horse's teeth floated, if they haven't been done within the last 6 months. Even if they have been done recently, get the vet to feel around in the mouth for anything amiss.
"The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky
This past Labor Day we had a horse in our barn choke and was unfortunately euthanized. Vet said there seemed to be too much scar tissure from other episodes and this would continue. Last choke he got very sick afterwards for over month and owner felt it wasn't fair to him. It was so heartbreaking.
I had a pony that choked 3 times. My ponies would bang their buckets against the wall to shift all the feed to one side so they could get a big mouthfuls and inhale it. I changed all my feed buckets to rubber feed tubs, then they would bang their knee on the tub and shift the feed to one side, they didn't eat it quite as fast. So I went big, the bottom 1/3 of a 55 gallon barrel and bolted it to the wall in the corner of the stall. It has really slowed them down eating, they chase their feed all around and around the barrel, they can't get a big mouth full and they don't spill any on the ground any more. I drilled a small hole in the bottom of the barrel so I can wash the tub out and the water can drain out into a bucket placed under the hole on the ground. The ponies that are fed on the fence line each have a barrel that is cut in half length ways with holes drilled for drainage. I don't feed anything out of a bucket anymore not only because of choking (no choking since changing to barrels), but because they don't spill as much feed, they don't learn to flip the buckets, if they have a foal by their side their is plenty of room for the foal to eat, they are cheap and last forever. Years ago I went to feed my weanlings and was greeted by the greediest one wearing her bucket around her neck, that was it, never again.
If you add whole flax seed to the wet feed just before feeding, it turns to a slimy mucilaginous mess. Horses love it and it slips along beautifully.
No more chokes or impaction colics.
Don't use the ground version, use the whole seeds.
It will make a mess of the buckets, so they will need to be rinsed.
Note to all DO NOT let wet flax dry in the bucket you'll never move those seeds again!!!
Don't ask me how I know this!
Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
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