Choke!

Choke! So last weekend I saw my third case of choke in a week! All 3 cases exactly the same, horses had been given some food after exercise as a ‘thank you’ for working hard.

Now choke in horses is a bit different to choke in people, when a person is choking people are rushing over to wallop them on the back as hard as possible, or you get the hero types attempting the heimlich maneuver, well, none of that works on horses!

When horses choke, they have food stuck in their oesophagus (in us, its the trachea hence why we can’t breath). So there really is no life threatening emergency, the horse can still breath. The problem lies with the horse constantly producing saliva which due to the blockage has nowhere to go so comes back down the nose, resembling very sloppy blended horse food! Choke can be quite distressing for horses, as flight animals they tend to panic in situations beyond their control.

Most chokes resolve spontaneously, a few need a helping hand from me and only very rarely do they ever cause more severe complications.

Of the chokes I’ve dealt with in my time as a vet (probably around 50 cases in 6 years) I’d say most were in the summer, and horses fed dry feed or hay. Now, I can understand why after some exercise you may want to reward a horse for good behaviour, but by stopping and just making sure feed is soaked and carrots are sliced length ways and hay is fed from a small hole haynet when horses are likely to be hungry then you could save your horse the trouble of seeing a vet! And yourself the bill! X