Is it bad to have heavy breathing? Is there a cure? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 11-14-2013, 02:44 PM Thread Starter
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Is it bad to have heavy breathing? Is there a cure?

Hi everyone, I have a horse that has started to breath quite heavily at the age of five. It doesn't seem to affect his performance, he recovers quite quickly, no nasal discharge, doesn't cough at all, and doesn't sweat very much. In fact it doesn't seem to bother him very much at all, but the sound of his breathing is quite shocking. It tends to be at it's worst in a collected position, trot and canter. Sometimes at the trot in a collected position, he'll squeak a little, and at a gallop he will let out some purrs. Lately it seems to get better with work after about 20-30 min, but still would be loud to someone who just arrived. It hasn't really caused any problems with performance though, as he is getting the best dressage marks he has ever had (upper 70's), and going too fast In XC (Training), I have to hold him back not to blow the times. In fact we even won our last event! You would never know he had an issue at a walk or at rest, so what could it be? Should I worry? The only think I think could have caused this is that he rode in a trailer that had very dusty sawdust with all the windows down once this summer for 5 hours. That's when it first seemed to start, but wouldn't that have settled down by now?
I am having him scoped next week, does anyone have any similar stories, and if so, what was the diagnosis and was there a cure? Or does there need to be a cure?
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post #2 of 11 Old 11-14-2013, 04:49 PM
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My first thought was that he is a roarer. You will need to get the vet to scalp your horses throat to determine the severity of the roar.
He might not be a roarer, but that's what it sounds like.
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post #3 of 11 Old 11-14-2013, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Border Collie View Post
Hi everyone, I have a horse that has started to breath quite heavily at the age of five. It doesn't seem to affect his performance, he recovers quite quickly, no nasal discharge, doesn't cough at all, and doesn't sweat very much. In fact it doesn't seem to bother him very much at all, but the sound of his breathing is quite shocking. It tends to be at it's worst in a collected position, trot and canter. Sometimes at the trot in a collected position, he'll squeak a little, and at a gallop he will let out some purrs. Lately it seems to get better with work after about 20-30 min, but still would be loud to someone who just arrived. It hasn't really caused any problems with performance though, as he is getting the best dressage marks he has ever had (upper 70's), and going too fast In XC (Training), I have to hold him back not to blow the times. In fact we even won our last event! You would never know he had an issue at a walk or at rest, so what could it be? Should I worry? The only think I think could have caused this is that he rode in a trailer that had very dusty sawdust with all the windows down once this summer for 5 hours. That's when it first seemed to start, but wouldn't that have settled down by now?
I am having him scoped next week, does anyone have any similar stories, and if so, what was the diagnosis and was there a cure? Or does there need to be a cure?
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What sort of heavy breathing is it? Is it like this video?

If it is, I've known many horses breath like this (I've always known it as high breathing), and found it tends to be in horses that are more excitable. I used to school a big thoroughbred gelding that used to high breathe in canter, every stride was a big snort, and he was a pretty successful eventer in his day.

If it isn't that, it might be worth getting him scoped after all. What breed is he? I'm only asking as I know roaring is more common in Thoroughbreds, and it generally makes itself known at gallop.
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post #4 of 11 Old 11-14-2013, 08:13 PM
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I have a paso fino that breathes just like that video quite often, although it's calmed down a lot as she's gotten in better condition. For it to start new when he's in good condition is strange but yes, maybe it's attributed to the sawdust or another allergy or irritant...?
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post #5 of 11 Old 11-14-2013, 08:19 PM
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Is he blowing through his 'false'nostrils .. thats what i call it.. I had a sorrel and white paint gelding I called Snuffles for the reason. he would do it at any gait.. He would walk and snort and blow .. Nothing was wrong with him, he was just goofy. lol
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post #6 of 11 Old 11-14-2013, 08:22 PM
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There are patches you can purchase to put over his nose to help open up the airways.

The sensitivity of the internet baffles me.
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post #7 of 11 Old 11-14-2013, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by CandyCanes View Post
get the vet to scalp your horses throat
*giggles* *scope. Please don't scalp your horse, then he might REALLY have some problems!


Haha, sorry. Couldn't help myself. My guess is roaring as well, which CAN be fixed, but only through a rather pricey surgery. If it isn't that, it may just be him. My filly breathes insanely hard when she's in new surroundings (is 'snorty') but it isn't because she's having a hard time breathing or that she is exhausted, its just one of her reactions to stimulus.
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post #8 of 11 Old 11-15-2013, 12:34 PM
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When the horse rounds up for Dressage it actually restricts their breathing. If he is a roarer and you are asking him to collect he will have a severely restricted airway.

I would definitely want to get him scoped. If he is having a hard time breathing sooner or later his performance will be affected, and you may see behavioral issues show up.

The more severely the airway is obstructed, the more high-pitched and whistling the noise. In some cases the noise worsens (or appears) only when he's flexed at the poll because in that position his airway is further restricted (think of a kink in a hose).

Respiratory Noises in Horses from EQUUS | EquiSearch
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post #9 of 11 Old 11-15-2013, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Endiku View Post
*giggles* *scope. Please don't scalp your horse, then he might REALLY have some problems!


Haha, sorry. Couldn't help myself. My guess is roaring as well, which CAN be fixed, but only through a rather pricey surgery. If it isn't that, it may just be him. My filly breathes insanely hard when she's in new surroundings (is 'snorty') but it isn't because she's having a hard time breathing or that she is exhausted, its just one of her reactions to stimulus.
Woops a daisy... Predictive text :P
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post #10 of 11 Old 01-12-2014, 07:25 PM
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If it is roaring, it gets progressively worse when they work hard, because the airway is being blocked. There is nerve damage that causes one or both sides of the "valves" over the airway to suck down during hard work, blocking their breathing. I recently had a partial aritnoidectomy to fix this problem in a 13 yr old QH/Warmblood cross. His breathing is OK now, but he seems to aspirate a lot of hay, causing him to cough up greenish snot a lot. I'm guessing we didn't get an ideal result from our surgery, so beware what the surgeons tell you. Not all horses will recover completely, and it may not be worth the money and trauma to your horse going through it. Plus they can no longer whinny afterwards. It is very sad to have a silent horse, when he formerly liked to talk a lot.
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