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choking horse

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  • choking horse

    Dear All,

    I went out to dinner so of course when I got back to the truck there's a message that my horse choked-on grass. He's 12 yo OTTB and has choked 2x about 4 years ago-on his grain. The barn is horrible the vet they get is an idiot-Ive told them not to call them for my horse but too late now. His only claim to veterinary skill is sucking goo out of a horse's nose which he did. And said that all he saw was grass so the horse was choking on grass. They supposedly noticed something wrong when the horse didn't want to eat. He was coughing a bit (the barn manager said) but not much.

    What do y'all think that sounds like? Some sort of foreign object that could be in his stomach? Really grass? A collic? Should I race out there now (10:45) or wait til morning?

    I know there is no real answer but I am worried about him!!! This is the barn that last winter I found they were not *watering* the horses. They are doing better and there are several of us checking on the water-plus it's been so rainly in Ala they pretty much *have* to have water-still....

    Anyway, any ideas appreciated.


  • #2
    Aside from the immediate issue at hand, why on earth is he still there if this is an ongoing problem?


    • Original Poster

      Hey, good question! Because there's nothing nearby and after dithering about finding a place or boarding where I'd seldom get to ride I decided to build a fence and run in behind the house. And it has *poured* in Alabama for 3 months. I am almost through w/the fence and shelter or not he's coming here. Then I've got to worry about a companion etc. but it's far far better than where he is now. It was not this bad when I first came to the barn but has just recently gone to hell in a hand basket. It's amazing, wire everywhere, horses out on the road (she'd made a bunch of jokes about "free range pony" that kept getting out). Just unbelievable. I am so mad at myself for not getting this solved earlier.


      • #4
        Yes, horses can choke on grass. I had a yearling filly choke three times in a two week period and all she had available was grass.

        It wasn't my first choke episode, but I learned a ton. With Kana it turned out that she had an ulcer on her esophagus. Was it the cause or the result of the choke we don't know, but if it hadn't healed properly it could have caused her esophagus to stricture which would have necessitated emergency surgery.

        While a horse is choking, it is best to encourage them to put their head down in order to help clear the blockage. Ace and banamine can also aid in helping the horse to relax.

        Post choke the horse should be on an almost liquid diet of mush (grain/hay pellets depending on what you feed). Very wet hay should be added gradually.

        We treated Kana with sulcralfate (sp) four times a day to help coat her throat and aid in healing.

        You also need to be on the lookout for pneumonia as the horse can asperate foreign matter into their lungs.

        Not trying to be an alarmist, but prior to Kana's incident I didn't take choke too seriously once the initial problem was cleared.

        Good luck and know that once a horse has choked, they become more prone to repeating in the future.


        • Original Poster

          Hey Jennywho,
          Well I called the really good vet in Pell City and went by a good vet to get antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory-neither of which the bad vet left. Both of these vets expressed doubts about the grass being the cause but if it's happened to you then maybe so. They also both thought a tube poked into esophagus is last resort-too late. Unfortunately when I got to the barn this morning I saw a 3ft pool of blood and water and the barn manager said "oh yeah, the vet hit a vein or something at first." Great.
          Anyway, the horse doesn't feel well today but isn't coughing. Stuff running from nose to be expected. If he's not a lot better tomorrow I'll take him to the Great Man in Pell City-Ed Murray who is a vet I think a lot of.
          Maybe I can get him out of the bad barn before he's killed though this may not have been their fault.
          *If* there is no scarring of the esophagus apparently there is no additional risk of choke but with all this bleeding I won't be that lucky. SIGH.


          • #6
            Hit a vein? How'd he hit a vein?

            Was your horse drugged? Because I've never had a horse be drugged for a choke, even if the tube is passed.

            I'd be concerned that this idiot vet did damage to the horse's esophagus. The esophagus can be delicate. Poor boy!

            I'm sorry you're stuck in a bad barn situation. Can you move him somewhere else for a month while you finish his barn and paddock in your back yard? It sounds like he needs to move- and soon! Could you use hot tape for part of the fence until the rest in finished? Even if he's farther away or inconvenient, isn't it better than somewhere they don't listen to you about which vet to use, where there's wire and loose horses, where a horse is injured (blood!) and the owner isn't informed until she spots the puddle, and where a puddle of blood is left overnight?! As far as shelter, think about buying a pre-made shed. Companionship... maybe a small donkey or pony off of craigslist? There's plenty of free ones now. I know the little ones cost the same as far as vet and farrier bills, but the lower feed bill may be worth it!


            • #7
              Sorry about your situation, and I hope your horse feels better soon. I don't mean to add additional worry for you, but a rather common proceedure done on TBs with wind problems, particularly "roaring", is "tie back" surgery. This is suturing of the larynx back to ease the intake of air, but it also can contribute to higher likelyhood of choke in horses that do not adapt well to the new way of swallowing since the flap cannot close over the airway. You can read more about laryngoplasty here under roaring:



              • #8

                There is some good info.
                Hope he is OK.


                • #9
                  Yes, choking on grass can happen. My big Percheron mare did this 5-6 years ago. Green/clear slime coming from her mouth and nose. Two rounds of sedation (big horse), tubing, 2 1/2 hours and a final draw of a shot of oxytocin finally cleared her. It was clear down near the end of her esophogus and by the time the tube passed to her stomach there was only enough left to put your hand on. My vet was convinced she swallowed a whole corncob. Nope, it was nicely, tightly packed grass. We figure she found a sweet spot and didn't want to leave it to come up and get a drink when everyone else did. We actually had to go find her.

                  She was put on a/b and could only have a mash a few times a day, no hay and handwalking on grass for the first few days after that, then gradually introduce hay then back on pasture full time after a week. No problems since then, thankfully. Her size certainly didn't help matters.

                  Your poor boy. Hope he feels better soon.
                  A Merrick N Dream Farm
                  Proud Member of "Someone Special to me serves in the Military" Clique