Not Choke - UPDATE: VIDEO ADDED - He's a bilateral roarer
Sorry this is so long but I will start this out by saying this horse has had his shots, his teeth done, has no history of choking/breathing issues and has been examined and scoped by a vet....
Horse arrived in my barn at the end of January - we have pretty much the same routine each day and he has fallen in line with it nicely.
Horses get grained first, then soaked alfalfa cubes, blankets changed and then turned out - I don't ever turn anyone out immediately after eating - while they are working on the alfalfa, I fill water tubs and set hay in paddocks.
The first thing this horse always does as soon as he goes out is roll, sometimes more than once, then gets up and goes to his hay. Last Sunday morning, after he rolls, he gets up and is making a strange sound, almost like a sick calf/goose sound. I went out to check him and there is nothing coming out of his nose or mouth and he isn't trying to stretch his neck but you can tell his is uncomfortable and the sound is loud. Called one of our vets who lives right up the road and she can hear it through the phone and says she has never heard a horse make that noise before. While I am on the phone I am massaging his throat and neck area but don't feel any lumps. Eventually it stops and he walks out and starts to graze. Watched him all day and it never happened again.
Next morning, same thing except this time he came running back to the barn, pawing and snaking his head til I could get to him and again after rubbing his throat and shaking his head, it stopped. So now I am thinking that he is taking a mouthful of hay and then rolling before he has swallowed it all so I start putting the hay out after he rolls. Nope, still does it.
Vet came out - heart and lungs sound good and he doesn't see anything unusual when scoped. Although this horse is good to work around, he wanted no part of the scoping so he had to be pretty heavily sedated and still wasn't too good about it. Next day he rolls and gets up quietly and goes to his hay - huh, so maybe there was something lodged in there and between the sedation, scoping and general stupidity on his part, it broke loose.
Nope, that afternoon DD calls and says he is doing it again so she got a good lesson on staying calm and dealing with it but I am at my wits end on what is wrong with this horse. Took the camera out to the barn this am to video it for the vet and of course he didn't do it. I am sure if my vet can see/hear it then he would know what it is but can't exactly have him living at my barn in hopes of catching an episode.
So, I am coming here hoping that someone here has had this experience or anything close to give me a clue. If I can get a video I will try to post it, but if this goes on much longer I am going to tell the owners he needs to take a trip to Va Tech.
Thank you in advance for any wisdom you can share!
Last edited by KnKShowmom; Mar. 14, 2012 at 06:20 PM.
Nothing to offer except sympathy for the mystery illnesses.
We did have a horse present once with symptoms similar to choke (she wasn't eating, hanging her head, excessive salivation, but nothing coming out her nose) that ended up being a mild gas colic. The vet came out and tubed her and she was fine afterwards.
I'll be following this thread to see what the outcome is.
No issues after rolling this morning, but while I was holding him for the farrier later on, he would let a "honk" now and then. Not moving a muscle, it would just come out....farrier said he had never heard one make that noise either <sigh> I was sure he would know.....
Now I have had horses burp and hiccup, and more often than not ulcers were the cause - wondering now if this funky noise is from ulcers?
Of course I also realize that as long as I leave the camera in the barn he will not have anymore full blown episodes ........ oh, well whatever stops it I am good with.
More of an audio than video since DD was standing so close but the horse is just standing there making this honking sound. Our vet has never heard anything like it before so he is consulting with VA Tech - will probably be making a trip there is the next couple of days. Posting this in hopes that someone will have some info for me to take with me.
Oh my, that is quite a sound! I had a new horse with a similar reaction although it was more immediate after eating the grain and he fell to the floor, moaning and rolling as if colicking. Soaking his grain with water solved the issue, for him it was too dry although the other horses were fine with it. Try doing this, and perhaps eliminate the soaked alfalfa cubes for a few feedings as a test to see if it helps him. Good luck!
Once this started, we have been adding water to his grain and wetting his hay. We have removed the timothy since it had more stems so he is only getting a leafy clean orchard grass. He also takes a long drink after eating so that should be washing everything down properly.
The exertion of getting up after rolling is what seems to trigger it - yesterday a herd of deer startled him and got him going.
I would definitely remove the cubes, only time my gelding has choked (2-3 times) it was alfalfa cubes. Also, oldtime horsemen, like me, always said you never feed grain first at a meal- always feed hay first. Something about starting the enzymes working in the stomach before giving grain. I believe it also prevents food bolting.
The weird part is that his food and routine hadn't changed at all when he started making this noise. It's definitely some kind of cough/wheeze sound but he doesn't seem to be in severe distress like a choking horse - and he doesn't have any discharge out of the mouth or nose like he would if something were lodged in his esophagus. He is totally healthy in all other ways. Just the weirdest thing we have ever heard!
He has been honking all along - not the kind of noise you want to hear coming from a horse.
He has been scoped and everything looked fine but didn't have an episode while the vet was there so he hadn't heard it til yesterday when we finally got him on the phone while it was happening. He is checking with some other vets and making arrangements with Tech but I would love to save this guy the haul up there if I can.
He is the sweetest little horse, it is just driving me nuts!
So if it doesn't seem to be directly food related, then the exertion of rolling/getting up, or the startling by the herd of deer is causing some kind of distress. Sounds like a spasm of his lungs or some such thing! Or asthma. Does he show signs of pain - chewing, eyes wrinkled or rolling, stretching his head down? Does he ever do it without any exertion or stress first? Hopefully a visit to a clinic will reveal more...you really have an unusual case!
Sometimes when he standing in his stall, he will let out a little, "half-honk" but for the most part it happens when he seems to need to inhale for exertion - like getting up from rolling or running. Most of the time he just strolls around the paddock though and he seems fine.
When he has an attack he usually comes to find us in the barn and we have learned that stroking his ears and talking to him seems to calm him down - there is no choking posture he just seems a bit stressed by what is happening.
We have him on ulcer meds and started him on TriDex until we can hear back from Tech - hopefully in the morning. I really don't want to haul him unless I have to but if he goes I am sure he will have a full battery of tests.
When this first started happening we thought he had something caught but I too wonder if something has gone down the wrong tube, but I truly hope not!
This may be one for the books - I will let you know how it goes.
Another question for you: Is this a quarter horse? Have you had him/her HYPP tested?
I have an HYPP N/H quarter horse, and the only symptom he's ever shown was some breathing that sounded like Darth Vader. I shot him with some banamine and he cleared up right away.
His airway was not that restricted and the breathing was not that bad (your horse sounds like he's having his airway shut off.) Alfalfa would DEFINITELY not be the right thing to feed an HYPP horse, and could definitely trigger the problem.
The most-common symptoms of HYPP include muscle tremors, weakness, muscle cramping, yawning, depression, an inability to relax the muscles, sweating, prolapse of the third eyelid, noisy breathing and/or abnormal sounds or whinnies.
HYPP cases usually start with muscle weakness and prolapse of the third eyelid, sweating and minor tremors most commonly in the flank, neck and shoulders.
More severe attacks can involve severe weakness, high heart and respitory rate, staggering, dog sitting and collapse. In its most extreme form, HYPP can lead to collapse and death, usually from a heart attack or respiratory failure.
It almost sounds like the braying a mule or donkey does. Does he do it when he is trotting or moving around? If that triggers it a treadmill test may be helpful to catch him in the act so to speak. Have you tried any bronchodilators on him just to eliminate that cause?