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I'm getting discouraged - seasonal allergies and conditioning

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  • I'm getting discouraged - seasonal allergies and conditioning

    My mare isn't doing well. She had one really good week after a couple of bad weeks and rest (fatiqued and breathing hard) - the vet recommended a nebulizer, but considering I'm hoping to do our first LD ride this summer, I wanted to try other legal options. She has never been on a bronchial dilator before, but I could tell this seasons allergies would be bad so I consulted with him. Previous to this season she has done well on APF, this season it has helped -- I guess. It's hard to tell since the coughing comes and goes now. Friday she was a bit of spit-fire, which is not normal for her (but she did have 2 weeks off and I've added fat to her grain), and I had also switched her supps to Cough Free and pure lysine, plus the APF. She coughed a few times, but I thought we were on our way since she was full of energy. Saturday she was exhausted and wheezing so I only took her on a long walk in hopes of breaking up some of the congestion. Yesterday she rested (rain) and today, she's coughing pretty bad .

    Sometimes her allergies clear up once the grass is in, but this year it seems to be dragging out (could be because I'm more focused). I'm going to have some blood work done and talk to the vet again - is there something in particular I should have him look at or test for?

    I've been so excited about our first LD, and have dreaded every bad weather day that's put us behind schedule on conditioning, but this is so disheartening...every time I hear her cough I want to cry. Not that it's ever been a good sound, but now that I have a goal, it just breaks my heart even more.
    Last edited by hundredacres; Apr. 29, 2013, 11:46 AM.

  • #2
    I don't have an answer for you but just wanted to say I feel for you and hope and pray for you and your horse that the vet can come up with something that will work. Are you soaking her hay to keep down dust? What is in her stall (if she is stalled)?
    Logging Miles with the Biscuit 530.5 Miles for 2011 visit my trail riding blog at www.dashingbigred.blogspot.com


    • Original Poster

      Thanks alfalfagirl. Funny you asked! I just read an article about COPD - not that the vet has ever called it that, but it seems that's what it is that she has --and now I see I can make some changes for her.
      Since I've been riding her more than ever since this past fall, I've stalled her more than ever. Normally my horses are out unless it's brutal outside but if I know I want to ride after work I will very often bring her in in the AM before work (out of pure selfishness, so that I have that extra 5 minutes I guess). She's bedded on very clean straw but the article says straw is a no-no. It seems to me that shavings can be so much worse so I found this surprising. And this year we had to purchase hay that is mostly alfalfa (we normally feed our own grass hay but the drought gave is only 20% of our crop). It could have other weeds that she hasn't been exposed to before. So, I'm going to get her back outside 24/7, switch her to some soaked hay cubes and see if this has an impact on her. The Cough Free, ironically, makes me cough every time I scoop it out. When I had her on the loading dose it seemed to really help, but, but, I think she was outside that week . (now I'm feeling guilty).


      • #4
        Can you use steroidal inhalers? My horse gets exercised induced lung and upper airway inflammation. I am managing with reduced hay (he gets 3 flakes soaked at night) and otherwise ChaffHaye. He is on 4 mg dex (little pill) every other day. Before he exercises I use a Equihippus inhaler mask sold by Breath Easy in England with a Flovent 220 inhaler. Plus I have experimented with AirPower before I ride, which also seems to help. Oh, and he is on SmartBreathe, which is my favorite of the oral supplements.
        Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.


        • Original Poster

          The steroids and bronchodialators aren't AERC legal, so I'm trying to find other alternatives. I've used AirPower with mixed results, and believe it or not, the menthol in it makes it illegal as well . Smartbreathe has MSM....also illegal.
          Last edited by hundredacres; Apr. 29, 2013, 01:59 PM.


          • #6
            When is your ride again?
            If your ride is later this year and the allergies are seasonal- I would go ahead and do whatever works to help keep her in training, then, depending on what you are using, look at the withdrawl period and work the medications accordingly.
            "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
            So you might as well have a good time"


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by tabula rashah View Post
              When is your ride again?
              If your ride is later this year and the allergies are seasonal- I would go ahead and do whatever works to help keep her in training, then, depending on what you are using, look at the withdrawl period and work the medications accordingly.
              You make a good point. I'm shooting for July, but perhaps August/Sept will be more reasonable. And maybe I'm overreacting (it's been a long, dreadful winter with too many dreary days!)....I'll still get her out of the barn and switch feed for a week or so, see how that goes. If there is no change I'll talk to the vet and then research withdrawl times and change my goal date.


              • #8
                There is a horse where I board who has seasonal allergies. He gets Prednisone starting before allergy season (vet said to start April 15th where we are). Prednisone is probably illegal to compete on, but again it might get her through the worst of the spring issues.

                The other thing that helps this horse is (ironic for you perhaps) being kept in shape. The fitter he is going into spring, the easier time he has of it all summer (and needs far less medication).


                • #9
                  Having been through the allergy thing with my horse (coughing etc), I was dismayed about how inept many vets are in dealing with it. Some things I learned the long, hard, expensive way:

                  1) Get your horse allergy tested. Why vets don't recommend this first off is a mystery. Among mold and other items outdoors, turned out my horse was allergic to corn and oats, which we had been feeding him! DOH!! Then, to deal with the mold, and some outdoor plant issues, he had a series of allergy shots to desentize him that worked well.

                  As to mold in hay, which many of them develop an allergy to over time, steaming the hay is the gold standard, the only way to get out the mold. a good hay steamer though is expensive but worth it if you can swing it. I ended up not getting one and soak his hay in water instead. Eventually will get one.

                  Try to get on top of this now. Every year they cough they build up scar tissue and the airways get more and more irritated which leads in and of itself to a chronic cough. My poor guys airways ended up getting infected from chronic irritation/mucus and he had to have his sinuses drained. On top of everything else, clogged sinsues actually give horses a headache (found out from the only decent vet who FINALLY figured out the right course of action after wasting two years, sounds like you, year after year addressing symptoms and not getting to the root of the problem)

                  Good luck, be proactive with your vet, ask for testing, allergy shots, do research etc.


                  • #10
                    I tried prednisone too imo a waste of money and all it does is address symptoms and does not cure the problem , however to jump start a recovery /bring down swelling it is useful.


                    • #11
                      get the vet back out and see what else you can try. We just tackled RAO in my own horse with oral Dex and Clenbuterol. Got him entirely under control. He lives outside, which helps, and now he's off hay completely - on grass and Triple Crown Complete. So far, so good.

                      Get her under control if at all possible. Then as Tabula said figure out the withdrawal period and see if you can compete. Right now she's 'legal' but sick. Get her healthy and worry about legal later.


                      • Original Poster

                        Thanks so much for bumping this and for the additional information - I'm definitely getting a new vet, and a 2nd opinion becuase mine regular vet just wants to use the clerbuterol(sp) rather than get to the bottom of it. I'm really bummed out because I think I may need to postpone our first ride until next year, but I want her to be healthy again. Her coughing has improved and is almost gone after being outside. She's mostly on pasture now, and I even pulled her grain since I haven't been riding her as much lately (combination of her coughing and a hellish schedule for the last 2 weeks). I want to know what it is she's allergic to, so I'd like to have the allergy tests done before making any more guesses or self-treating her any more (thank you for that encouragement by those who have suggested it). With the amount of money I've spent on herbs.......well, anyway, again, thanks so much for the additional information. I wondered about the scarring build-up - never knew about the head aches .


                        • #13
                          My vet was not impressed with the results of allergy testing in general. To quote him, If they come back as allergic to pine trees, where the Hell ya gonna go with that information? Granted, what you can do is try to tackle the big things they come back reactive to, but I would imagine one can do that w/o expensive and time consuming tests.

                          So we tackled the symptoms and the horse is feeling fine as frog's hair. Good luck, I know it's troubling and difficult.


                          • Original Poster

                            But isn't there a shot to build up an immunity? That's what I was hoping for - if they find it's grass, we're in trouble (or can we do shots?), but if it's corn, that's an easy enough fix, we just stop buying feed that contains corn. Right? With my luck it'll be grass.

                            Also Katerine, I forgot to ask you what RAO stands for. And did you get to take your horse off the meds eventually? Or is it a long term treatment?


                            • #15
                              I agree with Katarine about the allergy tests. I work for a farm with a large number of horses- We've had allergy tests come back where horses were pretty much allergic to everything (grass, oats, pine, straw, alfalfa, common fly spray ingredients, cats- yeah, really cats)- the list of possible allergens on the test print out is amazing.
                              While we do try to remove certain things if they are a big stand out, it's fairly impossible to remove everything they're allergic too.
                              "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
                              So you might as well have a good time"


                              • #16
                                I don't know a ton, honestly- he just didn't see the point in going there as they so often come back allergic to everything under the sun.

                                Recurrent airway obstruction, here's a write up:

                                we tackled it with Dex and Clenbuterol orally. I don't recall the specifics right off the top of my head. This is an 11 YO TWH w/o any history of allergies. This Spring's pollen was through the roof, just a nasty, nasty Spring. And he developed a cough that came and went. Mild exercise intolerance, just 'dull'. then one day he couldn't exhale easily, he had to really push to exhale. That prompted a nasal swab (negative) and tackling it with Clen and Dex. Now that Spring has sprung and he's 100% out of my poor pasture and onto good grass/no dust at all, not really- I am going to see what he does w/o any meds. We'll give it a little time and see what the early Summer brings. I can say the horse is 100% fine today- we'll see what a few weeks off all meds will bring. I kept a little Dex and Clen in case he flares and I need it.


                                • #17
                                  The way the vet explained it to me, there are two types of allergy tests, a skin test, and a blood test (forgive me for any off info, I am reciting from memory). The blood test brings up a slew of possible allergans, the skin test fewer, but still a fair number. He thought the skin test was more reliable for bringing up the main allergens. His plan was to focus on the main allergens and ignore the rest (such as trace allergens). The big ones for my horse were oats, corn and mold and mild plant sensitivity. We removed the corn and oats of course and de sensitized with shots to the mold and soak his hay.

                                  If I can afford it later will buy a hay steamer but there is much improvement now as he coughs maybe several times a week at beginning of each ride and that's it (sometimes no coughing at all), last year he was coughing hourly . Allergies far as I know aren't "curable" but managed, much like in people.


                                  • #18

                                    Link above to hay steamers (smart pak sells them)

                                    If my horse were a competition horse (or not thriving), I would buy one, as he's a pleasure horse and seems to be doing okay with soaking hay am not, but soaking hay just removes dust, not the mold.

                                    When he was really sick last year I steamed his hay using a wall paper steamer and garbage can (the cheapo version lol). He loved the steamed hay it smelled so fragrant and it really seemed to help him at that time.


                                    • #19
                                      Soak Hay, use dampish sawdust for bedding, give double dose of MSM daily for 2 weeks then back off to normal dose daily. Helps my mare temdendously, who would cough so badly I couldn't even walk her. Now she can go at a trot/canter for 30 minutes straight and not even be winded !


                                      • #20
                                        What pook said; all helped a lot for me, although I use pellets for bedding. My horses are out day and in for the night.

                                        Have an older TB who was struggling wit thick, icky mucus; badcough a few years ago all year long. Vet suggested allergy testing since she felt there weren't any management changes/improvements left to try. He came back allergic to a whole host of grasses that are just unavoidable in our area. Also sensitive to several soil-borne molds, dust mites, and gnats. Started him on allergy shots that fall. He has 2 vials -one for the various grasses & weeds, a second for the dust, mold, insects.

                                        I give him a shot every 2 to 3 weeks (closer together during pollen season and more spread out in the off season.) He is doing soooo much better. Rarely coughs, expect a very mild one on the worst of pollen in the air days. His mucus is so much thinner and runny on the rare occasion that he even has any. No more Mr. Grumpy/I don't fell good.

                                        The allergy shots may seem expensive on the surface, but when you figure the cost of all the other decongestants, herbs, other supplements they really aren't that costly ($3-$4/vial/week) and they have worked very well in our case. He has been on the shots for close to 2 years and my vet is thinking we might be able to back off some come winter. I'd go for the allergy test and shots!