Thursday, October 21, 2010


Tonight, as Red was eating his grain, he choked.

I was in the feed shed at the time measuring up tomorrow morning's grain, and heard a very strange, deep cough. I almost didn't recognize it as a cough, but the second time it happened, I stuck my head out the door to check on the boys.

Red was standing with his nose to the ground, mouth open, weight rocked back on his hind legs. His stomach muscles tightened and he rocked further back as he coughed again.

Cash had choked before, and the barn owner described the incident to me very clearly, so I knew exactly what was happening. I slammed the shed door shut and locked it, grabbed Red's feed tub so he wouldn't eat any more, and sprinted for my phone at the house to call the vet. It was definitely one of those instant panic moments, which all sorts of thoughts running through my head.

First: Would he be able to walk to the trailer so I could take him to the vet? Would he get in? The hubby's working late tonight, I'd have to load by myself. Red's a great loader normally, but choke isn't normal.

Then: Crap, my truck's not hitched to the trailer. I'll have to hitch it. Which I can do by myself, but it takes a few minutes. And it's getting dark.

And then: $h!t, the trailer brakes aren't working right. I'll have to drive with no brakes. Or lights, for that matter. Maybe a vet can come out instead?

As I was frantically dialing my vet (and then my other vet, since of course it was after hours and nobody answered), I realized my phone was almost out of battery. Dammit. So I'm standing in the house with the phone charging, watching Red out the back window to make sure he doesn't go down, while waiting for the vet to call back...

Fortunately one of my vets called back almost immediately - and told me not to panic. Choke in horses isn't immediately life-threatening, since it's the esophagus that's the problem, and not the windpipe. So they can breathe but not swallow. Still, she advised me to bring him in ASAP so they could clear it. I thanked her and hung up, then headed back out to Red.

About halfway between the house and the shed, I heard him cough again, and saw a big glob of grain land on the ground. He chewed air for a moment, then sigh and went after his hay tub (which I had left out in my mad dash to the house).

Horses. I swear. Scared years off my life.

If you want to read up a bit on choke so you know what it looks like and what to do, here are a few articles I found:

Also, it's apparently time to ask my vet for a vial of Ace and a vial of Banamine. Just to keep on hand for emergencies...


  1. Choke is terrifying. :( My old mare, Silky, choked once pretty good and was prone to it afterwards. I freaked out and rushed her to the vet the first time, but the second time I just stood in the field with her til she cleared it.

  2. Funder, yeah, I understand that they can be prone to it after it's happened, especially after a bad episode. I'm really not sure why it happened, but I've decided to slow Red's eating down by dumping his feed in his hay. That way he has to pick through the hay to get to the grain, so he doesn't get to take big mouthfuls of grain (not that he gets very much, but whatever). Of course, eating this slowly makes him cranky, so now he throws his hay and his feed tub all about. I need to take a video or some pictures, it's pretty funny!