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  • Choke

    My gelding had an episode of choke this evening. It was clearly choke and it resolved pretty quickly (vet recommended some antibiotics which we will start tomorrow) but it scared me half to death watching him. Now that I'm reflecting, I think he may possibly have had some mild problems with this ongoing this fall. I've noticed many times that he'll start eating his grain. Stop. Move away from it for a brief time. Come back and finish. Act a little uncomfortable such that I watch him....but nothing concrete. I've wondered about it but he's never done anything specific enough to put my finger on.

    He doesn't seem to fit the profile of a choker. He gets regular dentist check ups. He isn't a pig. He isn't starving when he gets his grain.

    Now I'm scared to give him grain. I can put rocks in the feed tub, but as he doesn't eat quickly I'm not sure how useful that will be. The vet recommended putting some oil on his feed. He's getting Triple Crown Lite--not much--just enough to give some supplements in the evening (about 1 lb).

    Any other suggestions??

  • #2
    Have your horse scoped for any abnormality that may be causing interference to swallowing. In the meantime, I would soak his grain to mushy consistancy. good luck.


    • #3
      I agree with the vet's suggestion or just adding water or molasses water (makes the molasses last longer and tastes good to the horse). A mare I had also choked only she choked on hay which is unusual. Her teeth were fine and everything but just that one day she seemed particularly hungry and ate it very fast, not giving the hay long enough to get salivated.

      Possibly your gelding does east slow but he swallows without hardly chewing. Or, one thing I noticed in my gelding is that he'll chew and chew and chew and even though his teeth are fine, the stuff is so dry that it just balls up in their mouth. Anywho, a number of things can happen but the point is, it is most likley dry in their mouth.


      • #4
        I feed my horses TC Lite and I do ALWAYS add water to it. I've learned that dry pellets and beet pulp are a common cause of choke.



        • #5

          I had a senior horse move into my barn last month. He had apparentely been fed a mixture of beet pulp and grain which I mixed up and gave him the first night and he choked. Vet came in and cleaned him out. I made it up sloppier the next night and darn it if he didn't choke again!!!. So, I ditched the beet pulp and made him up a "soup" of senior feed with a big rock in the feed bucket which he has been on with no incident since the last choke. When I say soup, I mean soup, I give the feed no time to soak up the water, it is literally swimming and he has no trouble at all. The vet did say that once a horse chokes the likelihood of them choking again goes up and that the first thing that wears out on horses is their digestive system which shows up as increased choking or colic. Good luck.


          • #6
            I dealt with choke this summer on one horse, a lot. Got it resolved with a dental float THEN two months the mare choked again. This time it was caused by a lower molar that had cracked and piece of the tooth was splintered off on the inside. It created a massive ulcer on her tongue. Anyway, repaired the tooth and (knock on wood) she has been choke free for 2 months.


            • #7
              My take on the subject of beet pulp as a horse feed.

              It is a waste product.

              SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!!!


              • #8
                Originally posted by Tom Bloomer View Post
                My take on the subject of beet pulp as a horse feed.

                It is a waste product.
                Shhh. Don't tell my horses.
                they love it.
                "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ghazzu View Post
                  Shhh. Don't tell my horses.
                  they love it.


                  • #10
                    Ask the vet about giving the horse banamine for the next several days. Once a horse has choked, it is very likely the horse will choke again within the next couple of days because of the inflammation caused by the first choke.

                    Watch the horse like a hawk the next several days while he's eating to see if another choke occurs.

                    Definitely have the vet check the horse's teeth and jaw for any problems like a cracked tooth or other problem that might be affecting his ability to chew.

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


                    • Original Poster

                      Thank you for this advice. I'm going to schedule an exam for him this week and I'll be sure to wet his pellets in the meantime.


                      • #12
                        I had two incidents of mild choke (resolved on their own within 10 minutes) last year. Horse needed additional dental work (he gets done every year but the year before I used a different dentist...regular dentist found some issues this time around...).

                        Just in case, I soak his feed. It's usually pretty much mush when I give it to him.
                        Easy precaution. Have had no issues since.
                        The big man -- my lost prince

                        The little brother, now my main man


                        • #13
                          Choke isn't just from bad teeth or bolting feed. Sometimes they choke from mild dehydration, a foreign body in the esophagus, or neurologic issues (worst case).

                          I have a horse who has become a chronic choker due to scar tissue in his esophagus. It's the vet's best guess that he ate something he shouldn't have, like a twig or piece of wood, that damaged his esophagus. He has no issues so long as I add water to his feed.
                          Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


                          • #14
                            I have too much experience in this.

                            It is not always a straightforward reason either.

                            My mare, has horrible teeth, very rotted molars. Many equine dentists and vet dentists all said her teeth were fine since I did regular dental exams.

                            My mare seriously choked and we did an esphogeal scope and found nothing. then did a dental check with a very knowledgable dental vet, and voila...discovered necrotic molars, etc.

                            We are ongoing dealing with that.
                            This fall, my mare got very bad, with daily chokes(yup, you can believe I was freaking out with that lovely experience).

                            I was suggested that she may have ulcers so treated her...huge difference.

                            Also suggested she may have megaesphogus.

                            Long story, and many changes in feeding etc.
                            Rocks, different heights of feeding bucket, etc.

                            What I finally felt has worked is a treatment of gastrogard for ulcers, and since the mare bolts her food, or takes too big of a bite, I now feed her a very small amount of grain(1/2 pound at a time) and she only gets hay out of a small hole haynet.
                            so far so good.

                            In a horse that chokes, I would most definitely have them scoped, examined by a knowledgable equine dentist who sedates and looks at each tooth. Not all equine dentists are the same...and one who checked her teeth in NH is down here advertising in Aiken, and no way on the planet would I ever recommend him. He told me her teeth were just great...yeah, sure they were.

                            Lastly, as far as management goes...try different things to see what works. I think in a horse that chokes that slower intake of feed is always a good thing.

                            Also, don't rule out ulcers.

                            Good luck, choke is just so horrible of an experience, for both human and equine.
                            save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                            • #15
                              JINGLES & AO ~ FOR YOUR HORSE AND YOU ```

                              Jingles & AO for your horse and you ```
                              Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                              • #16
                                Besides the good advice already given, I had an appy who "Choked" several times.

                                I switched him to a Senior pellet, soaked, but not necessarily "Soup".

                                Found the best solution was to put his feed in a round flat bottom ground feed dish, and spread the feed all around. This eliminated him from grabbing a big mouthful of feed.

                                Good luck. Choke is scary, but can be lessened with careful maintenance.

                                You probably know this, but since I've read of people doing this - Never, ever try to flush the blockage with a hose. Never...
                                MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

                                Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                                • #17
                                  One thing I did not see mentioned was feeding him off the ground with a rubber pan. Helps to get their head and neck into a more natural position.
                                  "You can't fix stupid"- Ron White


                                  • #18
                                    Similar to Huntertwo, I have found feeding a softened Senior feed on a rubber mat spread out has helped to reduce choke. My horse was using the edges of the feed pan/bucket to get large mouthfuls of feed. Spread out he can only niibble.


                                    • #19
                                      The advice and suggestions are all good. What I found was softened feed made her choke, feed pan on the ground made her choke, etc.

                                      so far the only thing working is small amounts of feed.

                                      You have to try things and see what works for you.
                                      feed softened and on the ground and rocks are the most common suggestions since they work most often, but, not for all horses, which I have found out.

                                      For me, I observed the horse and finally realized Miss Piggy was taking huge bites(not bolting, but huge amounts in at one time, but she is also a percheron with a big mouth) and with her decaying teeth, not chewing properly and swallowing which would lead to a choke.

                                      So, observation can also be a huge help in figuring out which method to prevent is best for your horse. Don't give up, if one method doesn't work, try another.
                                      Best to you.
                                      save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                                      • #20
                                        On another choking thread I read where someone spread the feed out in a large bunker type feeder (the kind used for multiple animals, but in this case used for just one). Because the food was spread out in a thin layer, the horse couldn't get a huge bite.