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Posts Tagged ‘horse choke’


Yep. We’ve got one. *sigh*

Seems like there’s always something to worry about. Every time I’ve had to call for medical advice or help, it’s been for her. Her habits are dealt with daily; there’s always something we need to think about with her.

We had a choking horse yesterday.

If you know me in real life, you will often hear me shouting online about touching my horses. DON’T TOUCH THEM. DON’T FEED THEM.

With the amount of horses being stolen out of their barns and pastures and then sold to slaughter {yes, this really happens, and a lot more than you’d think. The lengths people go through- one horse a few weeks ago was stolen right out of the barn and then dyed to hide the distinguishing marks. This is no joke.}, I have rightfully been watchful.

Seriously, people stop all the time- literally a few times a week- to try to lure the horses to the fence. I’ve had people honk and honk and honk at the horses, trying to get them to come over to the fence. Ive had a bus full of people hanging over the fence trying to get the horses to come to them.

I’ve had people go IN the pasture and mess with the horses. Last week, it was the hunters accessing the woods behind the pasture. Later they said no one was touching them, but we SAW them. I don’t think that group meant any harm- the horses are gorgeous, after all- but I still don’t like it.

I would never go to someone else’s house and jump in and try to play with their animals. I don’t know their animals, and that is just asking for trouble.

My biggest concern, however, is that someone is going to feed my horse something. Don’t get me wrong- I don’t think it’s malicious, but it certainly is ignorant.

Despite popular belief, horses have a very sensitive and delicate digestion system. They can die from gas, y’all. From GAS.

That’s called colic, and it can be deadly, real fast. Colic is has many causes, but it presents as gas and bloating, and any other kind of abdominal distress. Colic isn’t a cause, it’s a symptom.

Horses colic for a whole lot of reasons- change in feed; change in weather; too much hay; too much grass. Pretty much anything can cause a horse to colic, and it can get deadly fast.

And then there’s founder, which can also be deadly. At the very least, the horse will have to wear special shoes {read: $$$$} for the rest of its life.

Are you starting to see that horses have delicate and yes, temperamental digestive systems? 

It can take 2 to 3 days for a horse to digest food. That’s how slowly things work their way through. Horses have very small stomachs, too, which means they need to graze 16 to 17 hours a day.

By far, the most worrisome issue is choking.

Yep. Horses choke. And you can’t do the Heimlich Maneuver on them, either.

Horses cannot breathe through their mouths. {This is why they can breathe while choking, as opposed to humans have their airways blocked.}

They also cannot throw up through their mouths. Nope, they cannot. They are not plumbed that way. When they throw up, it comes out their noses.

horsechoke

Yep, it does. It comes out their noses. It’s stringy and gross, but necessary.

And horses can choke on all kinds of things, including their normal grain.

Did you get that?

Horses can choke on their normal food, that they eat every single day.

In our case, it was Angel choking on her feed yesterday. Twice. You may remember Angel from her head gash episode.

She is the only horse we’ve had to call the vet with for emergencies.

While Angel is a bolter {meaning she plows through her feed, eating as quickly as she can} and we’ve taken measures to slow her down {ground pan with rocks} so the others can eat in leisure, she usually at least chews her food. Something happened yesterday during the first feeding, and I heard the yelling, “Angel can’t breathe! She’s choking!”

Now that we have horse anatomy 101 under our belts, and know that choking horses can breathe when they choke and block the esophagus and not the trachea, I knew that her not being able to breathe because she was choking was likely not actually happening. {And because they can still breathe, pneumonia can happen as a result of aspirating during a choke.}

She was, though, absolutely choking. She was coughing, stretching her neck, and vomiting through her nose. Often, a choke will resolve on its own. We felt for a lump on the left side of the her neck, where the esophagus is. If a lump is felt, it can be pushed down, but carefully so as not to cause worse lodging or perforate the esophagus.

We didn’t feel a lump.

After about 15 minutes, I called the vet. We talked. She wanted me to call her back in an hour if it hadn’t resolved. She found that most horses get the choke resolved in an hour to hour and a half on their own, without having to be tubed and rinsed by the vet. {And that is pretty nasty-  a tube goes in the nose and then the obstruction is blown out with water– but it gets the job done. You can imagine that this procedure does not come without $$$.}

While dealing with colic, rolling is not good and you want the horse up and walking, we were reassured that rolling in this case can help dislodge the blockage. Don’t let them drink water, though. If they can’t swallow the obstruction, they can’t swallow water, and they could actually aspirate. She said we’d know it had resolved when her neck relaxed and she began eating again.

Probably our stupidity, but we knew that after a choke, feed should be soaked for a considerable amount of time, so that’s what we did for dinner. We figured if it was mush {and she was eating hay and grazing}, she would be ok, seeing as it had been hours and she had been grazing all that time. She was not. She did manage to get it resolved in just a few minutes, but it goes without saying we’re giving her a break today and everyone is getting mush, even if they don’t need it.

So when you stop and try to feed my horse anything- and I mean ANYTHING, don’t get all annoyed with me when I come out yelling.  You could very well be KILLING my horse, even if you thought you were being nice and giving it a treat.

Don’t.

Just don’t.

If I know you and you want to come up to the house and ask for permission to give the horses a treat, I will gladly share a bag of shredded carrots with you. Even though they can choke on those, too, at least I’ll be there and will KNOW there’s a problem and can DO something about it. This is why we hang out and watch during every single meal, and for some time after.

So please, please, PLEASE don’t feed my horses.

Don’t pet them.

Don’t mess with them. {You know they can kick too, right? And given that you’ve gone in my pasture to mess with my horses, I have to assume you are ignorant and don’t know horse behavior and don’t know what to look for before they kick you.}

Admire them from the road, but be respectful and leave them alone.

It might well be a matter of life or death– yours or theirs.

don'tfeed

 

 

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