We seem to have had quite an epidemic of “choke” in the last few months.
The signs develop rapidly with some horses showing considerable distress. They may repeatedly arch their neck and then extend their head downwards. Saliva mixed with feed will drool from the mouth and nostrils, with occasional coughing.
The cause is feed, (usually dry – but not always) becoming lodged in the oesophagus. Saliva accumulates in the oesophagus above the blockage until it flows out via the nose or mouth. Unlike colic, the horse will not go down or roll. As long as they can put their head down, they can breathe ok.
Do NOT walk the horse. Allow the horse to put its head down. Serious complications such as inhalation pneumonia can develop when horses are not able to lower their heads down to cough, as in a horse float or when tied.
Most chokes clear by themselves within half an hour. More severe cases may require veterinary help with a stomach tube to break them up. Rarely do we see complications, but a horse that has repeated chokes or following a bout is dull and shows respiratory distress, needs to be investigated by a veterinary surgeon.
It is not best that we should all think alike;
It is difference of opinion that makes horse races.