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  • Choke

    Senerio: 8 Year old OTTB came from breeder in early August. He was in very poor condition when he arrived, a bag of bones covered in rain rot. He was on Mare and Foal feed 6 qts 2 times a day according to his old owners.
    Horse is improving each day and is a nice quiet boy. Switched feed to Ledgends 10 fat, 18 fiber 11 protein pleasure feed. This horse is low man in the herd allowing himself to be pushed around by the biggest pushover ever my Casper.
    Monday AM, he chokes on his feed, vet came out thought she cleared an obstruction, horse went on mush and stall rest for 2.5 days, came out a new horse, renewed, more sure of him self, perky for him. Fine on slop Tues, wed AM, had feed Wed PM, Thurs am ate well, Thursday PM, chokes again.
    This horse wreches his entire body and looses projectials from his nose. Just before the vet got here tonight he was dry wreching. He has never been a big drinker and does kind of play with his water.
    The vet suspects botulism. I don't know his vaccine record all the other horses on the property are vaccinated for it as it is in the ground in our area. Now of course I am wondering if he has been choking on and off since he's been here, is there an obstruction, did he have the flap surgery at the track........his teeth are OK, not great but nothing that would cause him to choke on feed.


  • #2
    A gelding that lives out with my retired guy has signs all over his stall that say please no pellets or carrots, horse is prone to choke. He ate only timothy hay.
    2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

    A helmet saved my life.


    • #3
      Teeth can play a huge role in choke. Has he been sedated and teeth thoroughly examined?

      Next, I would want an esphogeal scope to ensure there is no obstruction or damage to his esphogus, either from the choke or causes it.

      My mare is prone to choke, but due to rotting molars, that 2 vets, yes 2 told me her teeth were great within 4 months of the onset of her choking.

      She is on a soft, 2nd cut, no grain, no treats. If I do grain her, its a mash.

      I also just bought the pre-vent feeder to make her eating slower. Hope its easier to deal with than rocks in her tub.
      save lives...spay/neuter/geld


      • #4
        Having seen several botulism cases in my life, it does not sound like the typical way botulism presents itself. He wouldn't have bounced back at all after the first choke. In *most* cases, botulism progresses quickly. You'd be seeing other symptoms by now.

        I second everything fivehorses said- it's incredibly possible he has either an object obstructing his esophagus or damage from his first choke. Passing a scope is MUCH cheaper than treating for botulism, too.

        If he did have have his flap removed, it's best to feed him on the ground, too. Again, the vet could confirm that if a scope is passed.

        My 24 year old TB has become a high choke risk-- back in about 2008 he had a serious choke for the first time in his life. The choke damaged the esophagus and the scar tissue created a stricture. It's easy enough to deal with-- he just always gets his feed soaked. It's a quick step that completely prevents problems.
        Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


        • Original Poster


          This horse does eat like an excavator, scooping with his bottom jaw when he eats and he does scoop up quite a bit with each mouthful. His teeth are good, not great, according to the vet nothing that would prevent him from processing pelletted feed.

          I hope this is simple as slowing his eating with bricks/rock or feeding him mush. I hope it isn't Botulism which he does show 3 of the 7 common symptoms. Tounge hangs when ridden, tail looks like it is from a different horse (color condition doesn't really match the rest of him) and the muscle strength of his tounge (forget the word the vet used).


          • #6
            I have a chronic choker - sounds just like him. Mine choked on pellets, but also choked once on hay.

            What works for us -- Feed at ground level ONLY. NO hay racks, NO feed buckets that are elevated. He eats out of a very WIDE ground pan, so the feed is spread around. NO pellets - only extruded or textured feeds.

            He cannot eat pellets, but he has done well on extruded and textured feeds with no issues. (Namely, Blue Seal Vintage Senior - which is now known as Blue Seal Sentinel Senior - and currently he is on Triple Crown Senior.) If he is a bolter, I would also put a big rock in his ground pan to slow him down. Interestingly, my choker does not bolt his feed and has always had excellent dental care, even before I got him. Still, I strongly suggest having your horse's teeth checked and floated if necessary. I have his teeth floated every 6 months, even if he only needs a "minor" touch-up to keep his teeth in tip-top shape.

            *Knock wood* he hasn't choked since he has been on this program (years). However, we don't ever give him any pelleted feed and always feed him at ground level. Prior to figuring ALL of these things out for him, he choked three times. If this combination of things hadn't worked, we would have soaked his grain every feeding.


            • #7
              Have his teeth done again; make sure that the vet or dentist who does it is able to feel all the way back and see if there are any problems, like a broken tooth or a swelling or infection somewhere.

              Put the feed tub on the floor, and put in a couple of very large rocks to slow down his eating behavior. Wet down his grain and his hay, and maybe give him some hay before his grain so he doesn't feel so ravenous. Break up his feedings into smaller amounts fed more often if possible.

              For the next couple of days give him some banamine to ease whatever inflammation there may be in his throat. Once a horse has choked once, it is very common for them to choke again within the next week because of the inflammation and irritation caused by the first choke.

              Good luck.
              "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky


              • #8
                Actually, I found putting the feed bucket at knee level worked best.
                At ground level, my mare seemed to gulp her food, which caused air pockets, which caused a choke.

                I also looked at the pre-vent.com web site, and they recommend that height too.

                I am not happy being in this club, but its nice to know others are dealing with this as well.

                I am curious, do any of you know why your horse chokes?

                For example, my mare has rotted molars, that the vet is aware of, and we think it might be pain that causes her not to chew like she should.

                We are in the midst of making decisions about her teeth, and I am seeking input from others who have horses with no teeth or minimal teeth and how they deal with it.
                How do your horses do on grass pasture?
                How old are your horses too is other info, I'd be curious about.
                thanks, sorry, op, don't mean to take this ot.
                save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                • #9
                  Originally posted by casper324 View Post
                  Tounge hangs when ridden, tail looks like it is from a different horse (color condition doesn't really match the rest of him) and the muscle strength of his tounge (forget the word the vet used).
                  I'im not disagreeing with your vet, but botulism wouldn't be a big concern of mine. I only feel like I can say this because I've seen A LOT of botulism cases and confirmed deaths-- I used to work on a clinical study of botulism.

                  I am not sure where you heard about the different color tail being a symptom, but that is the first I've ever heard that. Most horses infected with botulism usually don't survive more than 72 hours, with or without treatment. It would be difficult for the tail to change color that fast.

                  Likewise with the tongue-- it's really common for OTTBs to hang the tongue out of the side of their mouth while ridden, some even gallop like that.

                  Your horse sounds more like a foreign body or other esophagus problem to me. Any updates today?

                  Originally posted by fivehorses View Post

                  I am curious, do any of you know why your horse chokes?
                  My horse chokes because of an esophageal stricture caused from scar tissue from the initial choke. I have no idea what caused the initial choke, it was the first time he had choked in the 10+ years I had owned him at the time. Vet thought it may have been started by a foreign body like a piece of wood, but we never found anything definitive.
                  Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


                  • Original Poster


                    My patient was wonderful this am, bright eyed chipper....
                    I of course wasn't as I was with the vet and this horse until early in the am......... The vet wants him on slop/soup for 5 days, nothing but slop/soup in his mouth and water.
                    I have a feeling that this boy is simply another fast eater who needs to be slowed down or we need to adjust to him, no big deal, what ever we have to do. If he needs slop, let him eat slop.

                    Fingers crossed as if he is fine on slop for the next few days, we can determine what texture feed he can tolarate and take it from there.

                    This horse Sunday was taken out on the trail for the first time being here. When I saw him coming back he had a horse smile from d ring to d ring. He was loving every second of his adventure out. He's a really nice guy. Jingles for him please.


                    • Original Poster

                      Originally posted by rodawn
                      I, quite simply, have seen a considerable number of horses choke on dry pellet.

                      Especially a horse who is low on totem pole, and/or has come from a starvation situation. They are worried about getting their share.

                      I feed everything WET.

                      I have an old Hanoverian mare who came from a starvation mode. She was rather on the anxious side, hugely neglected. She chokes on everything if she is not paying attention to her eating. The first time she choked, she nearly died. By the time the vet was able to clear anything, there was blood everywhere. This was from pelleted complete feed. This caused permanent damage to her esophagus and there is a small restriction in there now. The second time she choked, it was on hay. Again, very serious and she nearly died. The complication she had from that was from the scope which abraded the tissues in her nose and she hemorrhaged. From that trauma, she lost her foal.

                      These first 2 chokes she was very panicky, understandably so, extremely sweaty and she wanted to lay down. These are very painful things to go through. She now has minor chokes at least 3 times a month. She has learned to stand quietly and eventually it passes and she goes back to eating. Once in a while, she starts to sweat and I know it's a particularly painful episode, but I stand there with her and syringe tiny amounts of water in her mouth and it helps her pass the food bolus. Not a lot of water, because that can be bad, but 10-15 cc given about 3-4 times moistens her mouth and she swallows and it always settles. If after 3 or 4 syringes it doesn't settle, then I bring out the banamine to help the pain and help her relax. If that doesn't settle within 20 minutes, I bring out the vet.

                      Now, she gets beet pulp with complete feed fed very wet. Her choking happens so frequently that she has learned the phrase, "Granada chew carefully" when I see her distracted at something while eating hay... it swings her attention back to me and then suddenly at what's in her mouth.

                      What has been particularly helpful for this mare is I never let her get too hungry. If she's not grazing where she can eat all the time, then I feed her 3-4 times a day, plus a feed of wet mash, so sometimes she is eating something at least 5 times a day. I also do what I can to keep her calm and settled at all times. She'll never be a fat mare and never be a totally relaxed mare, but she has vastly improved with a consistent feed schedule. If she is excited about anything, such as a new horse on the property, she is not allowed to eat. Excitement or anxiety of any sort seems to aggravate choking.
                      I think you nailed it, thank you