dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, September 15, 2014


Last weekend was our long planned girls weekend. Two nights and 2 days of horseback riding along the dikes with a group of fun, horse loving women. I was really looking forward to relaxing in the hot tub and riding the trails. We arrived friday night and were just sitting to dinner when my phone rang. It was Ed. I answered thinking he had a question about the night feed but his next words made my heart sink.
"There's something wrong with Steele"
I got up from the table and asked for more specific information.  What happened was Ed had given them their night grain and then gave Steele a carrot. He began to made some weird noises and act in distress. As he described it I was pretty sure that it was choke.

Not that I had any experience with it whatsoever. But like many horse people I had heard about it and read about it.

For those of you who don't know (the rest of you can skip this part), choke is when something (usually chunks of food) get stuck in the horses esophagus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choke_(horse). Horses cannot regurgitate so not being able to get food down can be quite distressing.

I told Ed to call the vet and to send me a video. Here is what he sent:
When he sent that I became more worried. It's hard to tell if you don't know horses but this is one unhappy horse.

Time seemed to drag on waiting for Ed to call me back. I couldn't eat my food and my brain was racing trying to figure out how I was going to get home (I had gotten a drive with someone else). Unknown to me, one of my friends was planning to give me her car so I could get home (I love horse people).

Meanwhile, back at the barn, Ed is seeing some food discharge coming out of Steele's nostril. He's really getting worried and the vet is not calling back. He asks me what to do and I said something along the lines of 'call again and tell the answering service that she has to get f-ing ass in gear'.  I know, I know but I was upset. He called again but I seriously doubt that he said that. When she finally called back Steele was acting normal. He was able to swallow the stuck food and was perking up.

The vet asked Ed is he wanted her to come out. Ed said "look these are my wife's horses and she's away. If something happens to them I'm dead". 
Of course, that's not true. He told me later that he was worried. "I don't ride them and I probably don't love them as much as you but I do love them. I wasn't worried about the bill". 

On the vets advice Steele wasn't allowed any hay that night. But she wanted him to give Steele some Bute (an anti-inflammatory drug).  This was to ease any inflammation caused by the obstruction. Ed called me asking how to give him bute if he couldn't have hay or grain. I told him to soak some alfalfa cubes I had and put the bute in that. That worked a treat. Ed told me that he checked on him multiple times through the night but he was fine.

My nerves were shot but I realize how fortunate I am that Ed was able to recognize the symptoms and call me. How could I not love that man?

On reflection I think I figured out what happened. The vitamin I give the horses was replaced with a new pelleted version. These pellets are quite hard and Steele is a gobbler. I think that they weren't chewed enough and got stuck. When Ed gave the piece of carrot it added to the problem. So now I'm soaking his vitamin and adding water to the grain so that he's getting more of a porridge than dry matter.

I was able to enjoy the rest of the weekend. With multiple texts.

And Irish wants it on the record that wasn't him this time.


  1. Horses - you can't turn your back for five minutes! Lucky you with a horse loving hubby. :D

    Not to be alarmist - but having been through several choke episodes - one with a geriatric horse who didn't survive...

    Did the vet actually see Steele? Sometimes stuff gets aspirated into the windpipe and can cause pneumonia later - ours got antibiotics just in case. Wetting any feed / supps etc. that could be gobbled in the future, large smooth stones in the feed tub to slow eating down, and only baby carrots - none that are throat width. When they've choked once, it's more likely to happen again.

  2. no, the vet didn't come but I've been monitoring very closely for any signs of a problem.

  3. I was so glad when you talked to Ed and finally got the update that he was doing better. But, you know I would have given you my car in a heartbeat...not a question asked. I am so glad that Ed knew what to do, and seemed to not panic while on the phone with you, thus causing more panic. Ed is a keeper. :)


  4. Horses!!!

    (That man sounds like a gem)

  5. A number of years ago one of our neighbor's horses choked. They asked me to come over while they waited for the vet to arrive. Not that I could do anything but choke back tears. The horse ended up being okay but it was an ordeal, for sure. I'm glad that Steele was able to clear it by himself.

  6. I agree that Ed is a keeper for sure. So far there's been no further episodes. I'm keeping a close watch and there seems to be no other developments (like pneumonia).

  7. Faran choked really bad, didn't get antibiotics and did not get pneumonia. Keep an eye on him but don't worry yourself sick. I'm glad he's okay. That had to be very distressing dealing with that from so far away. I couldn't see the video because I'm not on my computer but I'll watch it later. After having Faran tubed I read that the majority of choke cases clear up on their own. It's not unusual. The big thing is keeping them calm. I hope I never have to experience it again. I hope you don't either. Soaking the feed is a great idea because they are prone to it once it happens.


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