Chronic Choking.....?! Odd Behaviour In Nelson - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 10-16-2010, 09:49 AM Thread Starter
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Chronic Choking.....?! Odd Behaviour In Nelson

Cheesecake if you read this!

2 years ago, Nelson has a bad choke episode, where it lasted 2 days.

What happened was my MIL brought her horse and Nelson into the barn to feed them their dinner, and while Nelson was still eating, she turned out her horse when he was done.

Nelson saw him leaving, and got upset about the fact that he was being left behind, forgot what was in his mouth and voila - badda boom, he choked.

My MIL, the twit that she is, didn't realize he was choking, nor even knew the signs of choke, so she turned him out and then called me. My Vet came out asap, and spent forever trying to get him tubed. He was heavily sedated to the point of not being able to stand up that well, but he still fought any attempt to get the tube up his nose. By the time my Vet finally got the tube in, it was late at night and we were all tired from fighting and struggling for hours.

She thought she got the blockage out, and we left for the evening with him tucked away in his stall, but the next day when I got out to see him early A.M, he was still choking. So the same vet came back out and we struggled again to get him tubed and she couldn't do it.

So we loaded him up and hauled him to another vet who got the job done, but when he was scoped, alot of damage was done. He was put on heavy meds and antibiodics and put on a strict diet.

All has been well up to now. No choke episodes that I am aware of - until recently.

At the new barn we are at, we've been here for about a year. This is the barn he started out at believe it or not *after he was bought off the track* and he spent many years here before he was sold for the 4th time.

When we moved in, he was very happy - knew where he was and he settled in right away. He has been quiet for a year, until now. Every day at 4:00, all the horses 40ish, come in off of the HUUUUUUUUGE pasture they are turned out on, put into their stalls to eat dinner. They stay in during all the lessons that occur in the evening, and get turned out around 8:00pm.

He usually eats his hay up and his dinner and when I show up a little after 6:00pm, he is standing in his stall quiet and relaxed.

Lately...this hasn't been the case. He's been whinning to the herd, and seems more preoccupied and concerned as to where the herd is, instead of what he is doing in his stall........

He takes a mouth of grain, throws his head over his stall door and starts crying out to the horses - forgets what is in his mouth..and BAM, he chokes.

The chokes, as I've JUST FOUND OUT, happen quite often during the week, but they are "minor" enough to where he can dislodge it himself. This concerns me!!!

While at the barn the last few days, he's been quiet - which is nice. So I feed him, and he eats his feed up quietly, with no issues. But evenings when I am not there, I am told he is up in arms.

I don't know what to do, to help prevent this from happening.

I suggested feeding him outside, leaving him and his best bud *they are two peas in a pod and inseperable* out in the pasture, while the rest come in to feed him - but he paces the fence line and is more concerned about calling out to them instead of focusing on his feed.

So, the whole barn knows he's a chronic choker now - and I made a sign and hung it on his stall door saying:

"Hi, my name is Nelson and I have a bad habit of choking on my feed. Please keep an eye on me when I am eating, and don't feed me if I am not being nice and quiet in my stall"


The issue isn't the pelleted feed he is getting. The issue isn't his teeth. His teeth were done this Spring, and my Vet was just out yesterday afternoon and checked his teeth for me to be sure, and they are good to go.

The fact of the problem is, he can be anxious and stressed out in his stall, where he forgets what is in his mouth because he's more concerned about where the herd is, instead of what he is doing.

I've contacted my local feed store and explained to the owner what is going on, and we're going to transition him from the Pelleted Purina Feeds, to Tripple Crown Senior where it is a crumble, and still a complete feed with everything in it that he needs.

I hope that helps.

So - thus far, the rule is - if he isn't quiet in his stall, he gets nothing. If he is quiet, he gets his feed, while being watched.

But I hate that he isn't getting his feed, because he's such a hard keeper and is at fabulous weight and condition - I'd hate for him to lose that.

Any idea's?

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post #2 of 12 Old 10-16-2010, 09:59 AM Thread Starter
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I forgot to add - I've tried soaking the feed, and he wont touch it. He puts his head down to is, sniffs it and looks at me saying "what the hay is this cripe?"

And I've tried oil, he'll take a mouth full, chew it and then spit it out. Leaving the rest to sit there and rot.


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post #3 of 12 Old 10-16-2010, 01:13 PM
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MIE I feel for you! my guy (also a dark bay TB) is a chronic choker too. It started like yours did with a big choke lasting all through the night and he's a bit of a nervous "hoover eater" too so I try to only give grain/pelleted feed when he's nice and calm. Hard to do when the whole barn is getting grain and he knows what's coming.

What has worked for me is to cut his daily ration of grain/supplements into 3 smaller servings, the BO gives am and pm and I give one after I ride. Lucky for me he eats anything though so even really soupy grains can be given. Have you tried gradually making the grain wetter and wetter? I know Nelson is pretty picky but maybe slowly introducing it like that will "trick" him? If he's like Tan though, he's probably very smart and tricksey.

As I'm sure you know the two main concerns with choke are aspiration pneumonia and stricture, or scar tissue forming and narrowing the size of the esophagus. The actual choke itself is almost never life threatening.

Other than giving smaller portions and gradually increasing the amount of liquid in his feed though, I haven't come up with or across any solutions that really work. Hopefully someone else on here can help!
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post #4 of 12 Old 10-16-2010, 01:16 PM
Green Broke
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i don't have any advice i just wanted to wish you luck and that our pony went through this. at first when we first switched him to pelleted food he choked for a couple of hours before we could get it dislodged. what we did was hold his head up as high as we could get it it and we massaged his throat and tried to get him to drink and eventually he got it all dislodged. and we weren't sure if it was the new feed or if he was jsut choking. so we tried the feed again the next day and he choked after a bit or 2 but this choke only lasted about 15-20 minutes and it was good. we then switched him onto the mare and foal feed we had the baby on (pony is 3 yers old) and he did fine. and we tried the pelleted feed again and he hasn't choked since. so i don't know what it was.

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post #5 of 12 Old 10-16-2010, 03:01 PM
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My BIL's horse has had a couple of choking episodes. We've had to put a mineral block in his feed bucket so that he can only pick up a little feed at a time. A smooth surface rock would work as well. Other than that or working with him on his herd-bound issue, I don't know what to tell you. I hope you can find a solution.
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post #6 of 12 Old 10-16-2010, 03:53 PM
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Is there anyway he can be fed where he can see everyone. one of my ponies has heart failure if she feels like she is bein g left so i actually feed her in the middle of the yard where eveybody can be seen she has gotten so much better now much more relaxed,.
I also agree with feeding wet feeds? There is no way him and his buddie can stay out no

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post #7 of 12 Old 10-16-2010, 04:01 PM
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Have you tried wetting his feed with apple juice or beer? I have one we had to try to encourage to eat (emaciated, weak and really poorly) and wetting the feed with apple juice worked pretty well. Every once in a while we would wet it with a warm (not chilled) beer. He was one happy pony after dinner on beer nights!

We didn't use either full strength (too expensive, or I'm too cheap, whichever you prefer), but the horse did eat and eventually got strong enough we didn't have to wet his feed anymore. This might be a forever thing with Nelson, though.

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post #8 of 12 Old 10-16-2010, 07:24 PM
Green Broke
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Don't feed him grain at night any more. Just feed him in the morning, with hay only in the evenings when he's stalled. If he gets too much grain/feed to feed it all in one sitting, then reduce it down and add more fat to make up for the lack of calories. Oil in his feed might be good for his choking anyway, or flax meal is my favorite.

Another way to add more calories would be to feed him soaked hay pellets at night. Use alfalfa pellets or mixed alfalfa/bermuda with some oil or flax. If his feed is mushy, he'll be less likely to choke on it even if he's acting like a ninny.

I have two chokers at my barn, one that had to be tubed recently for acting up while eating, so I feel your pain... Feeding soaked hay pellets with their vitamins and flax meal has worked well for me. (knock on wood!!)
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post #9 of 12 Old 10-16-2010, 09:56 PM
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Can you feed him dinner in afternoon when you are around instead of evening? I've seen chockers before - not fun to deal with. Sorry to hear you are having problems with it!
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post #10 of 12 Old 10-16-2010, 11:56 PM
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My mare has choked twice in the almost year I've had her, for probably the same reasons, she's just a bit of a nervous horse by nature, and got run off her food in the pasture, so she'd grab a big bite of hay, and then while trying to eat, run away from the horse coming to her pile. Because its only hay, I just put her in a quiet place, with a nice older buddy, a big bucket of water, and every few minutes while she's actively choking, I clean her nose out so it doesn't get clogged. After a couple hours she's fine, though she does miss out on the next meal, and the next day all her hay has to be soaked which she hates lol. If you can't cut out his grain, I agree with trying to make it wetter. I've heard that horses really like apple sauce, so I think he should like grain mixed with apple juice, but let it soak for a while, before feeding him. Also adding in a rock or something into his bucket should also help, as long as its big enough that he doesn't just grab it and throw it to the ground. Good luck, its always so nerve wracking when a horse chokes. I still worry every day that I'm gonna get a call that she's choking, so I've made sure that everyone knows what to do should she choke, and what to look for if she's acting off. Hopefully you can find something that works with him.
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