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Respiration/fitness question

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  • Respiration/fitness question

    Let me give you a little background. My horse and I have been bouncing between Prelim and Training this season. We just completed Poplar at Prelim, and we're planning on the T3D in a few weeks in KY. He's been doing very well in our trots and gallops all along, until about two weeks ago.

    The first day I noticed it was a trot set day, and it was unusually hot and humid. I chaulked up the slow recovery to that. But the next gallop day he was really struggling about a third of the way into the last set (highly unusual- he LOVES his gallops, and pulls right along) and I cut it short. It still took more like fifteen-seventeen minutes for him to recover, and the weather really shouldn't have been an issue. Saturday on xcountry, he was a total machine, ate the course up, lots of gas and go, but he took FOREVER to cool down. We hosed and scraped for a while, and then ended up walking him around in the shady barn, alternating letting him stand in front of his fan and walking, but it was probably thirty minutes after I got off that he seemed completely fine. All these occasions he mostly took very short breaths, almost panting, like he couldn't catch a big deep breath and settle.

    Needless to say I'm very concerned. I talk to my instructor and the vet there, and they seem to agree that with all the rain we've had, something weird or new is growing, and he's probably struggling with some kind of allergic reaction. I'm looking into breathing supplements now, but with the T3D coming up, I'm not sure what the best ones are. On paper, he's doing the work (and then some really) that he should be. We haven't skipped days (except the week of the flood), and he feels like he has plenty of gas in the tank. Any other ideas? I'll be calling my normal vet tomorrow, but I just wanted to know if any of you had dealt with a similar sudden issue?
    "One thing vampire children have to be taught early is, don't run with a wooden stake."

  • #2
    Some horses are panters-- their normal elevated respiration rate is extremely high after exercise, and they pant like dogs. As long as this is standard behavior for the specific horse, I don't worry about it... I focus on getting the temp/pulse down to normal, and then walk/graze the horse until the breathing returns to baseline. I don't freak out if I know it's normal for that horse-- my former CCI* horse panted, as did a 4-star horse I groomed for. It isn't as efficient as deep breathing, but the horses can cope.

    However, this sounds unusual for your horse... you should have noticed his panting as "standard routine" after regular gallops and workouts. The fact that it just started now could signal a problem. Perhaps there is some obstruction of airway? Usually it is accompanied by a roaring noise in the throat, but decreased oxygen flow would definitely lead to the fatigue in an otherwise fit horse. Racehorses often "stop" down the stretch when they flip their palate, or bleed into the lungs... no air = no go. Talk to your vet, it may not hurt to scope and take a look at his airway.

    I know of two older foxhunters who had tieback surgery later in life (over 10 y/o), one of which was eventing training/prelim and eventually ended up with 80% obstruction! He would start out great, but got very lethargic halfway round the course. After surgery, there was no stopping him! He made/still makes an obvious roaring noise.
    “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
    ? Albert Einstein



    • #3
      Originally posted by Miriam View Post
      ...He's been doing very well in our trots and gallops all along, until about two weeks ago.
      Two weeks ago is about when the never ending rain hit. Do not under estimate the effect that humidity can have on recovery. When I was regularly doing gallop sets I always noted in my calendar not only the temp but the humidity too! The other question I would have would be about footing--did all the rain cause it to be significantly softer? But I do think that because it is unusual behavior talking to a vet is a good idea.


      • #4
        I'd get him checked out if this is a sudden and drastic deterioration in an otherwise fit horse. Anemia, allergies, cardiac rhythm problem, airway problem . . . get the vet to examine him after a gallop, maybe?
        Click here before you buy.


        • #5
          I second the effect humidity can have on your horse. My horse, who I am conditioning for the P3D at KY, takes much longer to recover in the humidity. In CO for the CCI*, he was normal in about 7 minutes (not exactly sure on the time, I had to sit with the medic thanks to a throat infection that obstructed MY breathing) even though it was hot. But at Maui Jim, although it was cooler, the humidity was through the roof, and my horse took much longer too cool out, to the point where the vets asked if he normally took a couple minutes longer to recover. He doesn't normally, but humidity just kills.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks for the ideas everyone. We're going to try a few different things including changing his turnout schedule, adding a flair strip, and maybe a supplement. We may end up getting him scoped after I talk to my vet. On a positive note, the weather here is starting to feel like fall, so maybe that will be the big deciding factor. I'll update if we pin it down to anything in particular.
            "One thing vampire children have to be taught early is, don't run with a wooden stake."


            • #7
              Hm, I don't have anything to add to the great suggestions above, but I also ran Prelim at Poplar this past weekend and I must say that for this area the weather was quite mild..I'm not sure where you are from, but compared to the previous weekend, the humidity here was much lower as was the temp, and our 3 prelim horses and 1 CIC* horse all cooled down very quickly, even with the beginnings of their new winter coats. Also, how did your horse jump around stadium? Did he seem any more fatigued than usual?