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Does anyone else's horse get the hiccups?

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  • Does anyone else's horse get the hiccups?

    My boy gets the hiccups occasionally. It's been going on as long as I have had him(11 years). Everyone that sees this says that they have never heard/seen a horse that gets them. I know I can't be the only one!
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  • #2
    11 years, have you ever brought this up with your vet?

    There is no such a thing as hiccups in horses!
    It's called Thumps and is most often due to an electrolyte imbalance.
    I would not take this lightly and look for the cause and remedy.



    • #3
      Having a horse who had thumps for a spell, I have to agree ^^ Though mine never hiccuped, hiccups are a classic sign .... and thumps can be life threatening, not something to take lightly.

      I would absolutely ask my vet.
      Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


      • #4
        I have had a horse with hiccups. My vet told me that there was nothing to worry about. If you read the op link there are other signs of the "thumps" besides hiccups, also when my horse had them he only hiccuped 1 every couple of minutes and they lasted for like a half hour. I would not get super concerned unless your horse had some of the other symptoms listed as well, sometimes people on this board immediatly jump to the horse is going to die situations. I think you should consult your vet and go from there, if your horse is showing other signs.


        • #5
          Our mule occasionally does what sounds like hiccuping. He even did it once when the vet was standing right there.

          We finally figured out that the only time this happens is when he gets a bath, and has gotten chilled. As soon as he is warm enough, it stops.


          • #6
            My mare developed "hiccups" the day after a strenuous foxhunt. I was quite concerned as I had never seen it before! My vet told me to give her some electrolytes as it was probably caused by the previous days exertion (electrolyte imbalance from all the sweating).

            I gave her some 'lytes, and by that evening she was back to normal.

            I now give her electrolytes the day of a hunt as a rule, both in her breakfast and supper. I haven't seen the "hiccups" back since.

            The fact that it occurs in your horse off and on and over the past 11 years, is unusual. Are there any external factors that correlate to his episodes?


            • #7
              My horse used to get the hiccups when he was worked (lightly) on the lungline. Pretty funny. I think he might have gotten them once or twice while being ridden -- can't remember. Vet said nothing to worry about. Happened every once in a while for a few year. He's retired now (ringbone), and I haven't heard him hiccup in years.
              "If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em."


              • #8
                Agreed, look into the thumps and get horse checked out. As Lieslot said, it can be quite serious.
                "Aye God, Woodrow..."


                • #9
                  "Thumps" is the term used to describe a condition known as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF). This condition is a sign that a horse is in severe metabolic distress from dehydration. A horse with thumps will display rhythmic twitching or "thumping' in the flank area, in time with the beating of the heart. Sometimes it is so subtle it can only be felt under your hand. In severe cases, it is observable from several feet away.

                  Thumps can occur when excessive seating causes dehydration and massive electrolyte loss. As the bloodstream is depleted of salt ions, the function of the nervous system is compromised. The phrenic nerve that runs across the heart to the diaphragm muscle begins to fire in time with the heart beat, stimulating the diaphragm muscles to contract and causing the distinctive, thumping flutter.

                  Thumps should be regarded as a warning sign that the horse is suffering from acute dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Immediately halt exercise, administer water and electrolytes, and call your vet for treatment instructions. If ignored, the consequences include founder, colic, heat exhaustion, or collapse. Recognizing this sign of impending metabolic failure can help to avoid much more problematic consequences.



                  Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                  • #10
                    I have had a horse with hiccups. My vet was right there one time, told me that there was nothing to worry about.
                    Shop online at


                    • #11
                      My guy gets them occasionally. I have know him all his life and he even got them as young a 5-6 months old. Other than annoying him to no end, the vet has said that they are nothing to worry about.


                      • #12
                        I had a mare who would get them when she was cold. As soon as I would put on a blanket, she would stop.

                        Her son had them, too.

                        When asked about them, my Vet never mentioned anything about "thumps". (BTW, her son is 16 years old and is still going strong!)
                        When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!


                        • #13
                          My yearling had the hiccups last week and I captured it on video. It was definitely not thumps!

                          If you turn up the sound you can hear them. I didn't get a good picture of the belly jumping because he was too busy playing around, but you could see it.


                          Hiccups are audible at these time stamps:

                          0:21, 0:45, 1:00, 1:14, 1:28

                          Here's what they were up to -- not a sick horse at all. Just hiccups.


                          OK, I found a clip that shows the hiccup -- right about the 11 second mark -- watch his flank. Don't blink or you'll miss it!


                          Yeah, I really do need to get a life.

                          Last edited by LarkspurCO; Mar. 18, 2011, 01:33 AM.


                          • #14
                            fwiw, I'm not trying to insist that every case of hiccups is thumps though I'm sure my two posts sure seem like it .

                            But, I do want to impress how serious thumps can be. If your horse *has* thumps its not just 'hiccups' that can be ignored.

                            I thought my own horse had exercise intolerance, 20 min of w/t and he was exhausted and took more than a reasonable time to recover. He never had the hiccups or thumping sound, just fluttering sides. I thought it was possibly allergies, early cushings, or he was ridiculously out of shape for some reason. Finally had my vet out, turned out to be thumps, and I feel horrible I didn't know sooner.

                            Because thumps can be so serious, and because hiccups are such a common symptom, for the benefit of all the lurkers and people reading this thread not just participants: if your horse is hiccuping please ask your vet about thumps... its too serious to ignore if you're not sure.

                            stepping off my soapbox
                            Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                            • #15
                              My gelding Maverick had 'hiccups' only once, lasted about 1/2 hour. My daughter and I were standing right there and watched. This happened a few years ago and he's never had them again.