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Choke - no hay ever?

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  • Choke - no hay ever?

    I have an old horse who choked quite badly on his grain today. Blocked all the way down to the stomach. He is getting nothing the rest of the day until some water tonight and then soup style grain for 3 days. After that he can graze with a muzzle for 3 weeks and then can graze normally. However, the vet said no hay ever again. The problem is the winters here are tough and we feed a lot of hay and he is the baby sitter for the foals. I have a lot of yearlings to break that need individual paddocks and keeping him seperate and hayless will be tough not to mention trying to keep weight on him. Has anyone had experience feeding hay to a horse that choked? I have never had a choke before but have seen them and don't recall the horse not eating hay again. Thank you!

  • #2
    Since your horse is older that may be the reason for no hay. Perhaps his teeth are too worn down to chew it properly. I've seen plenty of older horses who cannot have hay. They live on soupy senior feed and tons of soaked hay cubes. It sounds like your horse had a very bad choke, which can also leave a lot of scar tissue in the esophagus, which can make a future choke episode more likely. So it does sound as if you will need to keep him away from all dry hay.

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    • #3
      Did you ask your vet about hay cubes and/or chopped forage like Safe Starch? That, along with a soaked complete senior feed, may work for your horse. I've seen chopped forage and a complete feed work fine for an older horse with almost no teeth left. He lived quite a few healthy years on this diet.

      If he can't properly chew the hay and choked that badly, then I agree it's probably best to avoid dry regular hay altogether.


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      • #4
        The senior 30+ pony at our barn gets senior feed and lots of soaked alfalfa cubes. She works several days a week and still keeps her weight up, even in the winter. She has almost no teeth and cannot eat hay, she hasn't for the last few years.

        You could just keep the grazing muzzle on all day out with the yearlings, but bring him in a few times a day for soaked cubes
        .

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        • #5
          Our old girl (26) had a bad choke last year. Now she gets soaked sr food, soaked hay cubes and soaked chaff. See a trend? We also add oil for added swallowing ease...

          She's in a field with the brood mares (she's also baby auntie) but we've built her a little corner paddock (10x10) that is fenced off just for meals. It is not fancy - a few boards and posts, with a stall guard across the opening - but it keeps the others out. She goes into her box to eat and we let her back out when everyone is done with hay. Yes, it means we have to be there to let her out AFTER meals, but we've learned to plan that into our schedule. That pasture gets fed first.
          The rebel in the grey shirt

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by Phaxxton View Post
            Did you ask your vet about hay cubes and/or chopped forage like Safe Starch? That, along with a soaked complete senior feed, may work for your horse. I've seen chopped forage and a complete feed work fine for an older horse with almost no teeth left. He lived quite a few healthy years on this diet.

            If he can't properly chew the hay and choked that badly, then I agree it's probably best to avoid dry regular hay altogether.
            He can have chopped forage, soaked feed, soaked cubes and grass. I just would love to avoid separating him all winter when the grass is dead and all the outside horses get hay 24/7. He hates being inside. Oh well, I have come to terms with it now and will figure something out.

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            • #7
              I have an old guy with minimal teeth who gets his nutrition from his soaked senior feed (and a whole bunch of other stuff) and entertainment from quidding hay. He is smart enough to spit it out! He's choked, badly, several times in the past and has strictures; I think it must be uncomfortable for him to swallow it, so he just mashes it around in his mouth, sucks on it and spits it back out again. He goes out with a big herd that's fed all sorts of whatever kind of hay, and he either ignores it if it's too stemmy and comes in hungry (not ideal) or picks through for the stuff he can eat. Sounds like your vet doesn't think your guy will come up with that approach? :-) Mine likes the little leaves and pieces in the alfalfa and will ignore the stems. Any chance you feed nice alfalfa to the youngsters he babysits, so he could get the smaller pieces with the group when they're turned out together? any chance you have some nice soft, fine stemmed second or third cutting hay for them?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by keepthelegend View Post
                He can have chopped forage, soaked feed, soaked cubes and grass. I just would love to avoid separating him all winter when the grass is dead and all the outside horses get hay 24/7. He hates being inside. Oh well, I have come to terms with it now and will figure something out.
                Is it possible for him to share a fence line with the other horses? Maybe you could fence off a sacrifice area for him for the winter? He'll still be outside near his buddies, but can't get into their hay.


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                • #9
                  I housesit for a horse that choked last year. He is 32 years old and missing a few molars.
                  He gets soaked senior feed, beet pulp and alfalfa cubes. He does get access to hay and does eat a little bit of it. He was quidding one type of hay but they switched him to a hay that is a very soft flat stem with some alfalfa in it. The owner said it is 2nd cutting timothy.
                  Although at another barn I was at the BO called it canary grass hay?
                  Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

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                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    The sad thing is he can still eat hay fine teethwise. I think he just bolted his grain yesterday. He came galloping over for his breakfast and I think just dove in a little too fast. But the vet thinks the damage to his windpipe from the blockage will make hay too risky. Is there a way to check to see if scar tissue does form?

                    I made him some "soup" out of his senior feed today and even though he is starving he seemed grossed out by it. He ate about half and then just looked mad and hungry. He can't go on chopped forage for another two days. His condition is so good right now it makes me depressed as I am sure he is going to go downhill for awhile adjusting.

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                    • #11
                      sorry, not to make light of the sitch, but as a mom of a fussy/senior/hardkeeper i could not help but to laugh at the "he just looked mad and hungry" comment!!!!!!!!!!!!! ohhh- been there........

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