Dealing with heaves? Tips, thoughts? - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 19 Old 08-27-2013, 12:54 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 564
• Horses: 2
Dealing with heaves? Tips, thoughts?

I have done searches on here and also the Internet but am just wondering if anyone else has any more hints or insight.

My new guy, Chilkoot, was diagnosed with heaves today by a vet. Honestly, I should have noticed (as soon as the vet pointed it out I was like "ohhhhh...") but I didn't. And no, I did not get a PPE due to distance to a vet and my/sellers schedules. I'm willing to invest some time and money into this, and want to learn as much as I can.

He has been in a small pen with a round bale for at LEAST several months, maybe a year. He does not have a heave line, but you do notice him breathing oddly even at rest.

He is at the vets until tomorrow or the next day (he went in to be gelded but they can't do it until his breathing is reasonable) and was given a steroid shot today and maybe one more tomorrow depending how his breathing is.

I'm seeing the sellers tomorrow to settle up paperwork and I will just straight up ask them how long he has had heaves. They didn't mention anything about it, but then again I didn't think to look for it either. It's possible they didn't know. I've personally never dealt with it and honestly didn't even think to see how he was breathing.

I'm hoping the sellers can tell me if it was old hay, if it had alfalfa in it by chance (vet said that's especially bad for heaves) and if Chilkoot's sire or dam have a history of heaves or allergies because apparently it can be at least partially genetic.

Then, he will probably be going onto pasture for a month. In the winter, however, we feed hay. Hoping that he will do ok on it if it is scattered out for him, vet said that for some horses a difference was made just by scattering hay on the ground rather than having them pull it from a round bale .. Otherwise I understand that I could look into a pelleted feed. How does that work though, don't horses NEED to have roughage to munch on through the day?

I'm really hoping it is fairly easily manageable. I can do SOME special treatment but overall am not in a position to have a too high maintenance horse (I work two weeks at a time away from home, then two weeks at home). This is also my very first ever experience with a purebred horse.. Good intro eh!? Haha! Kidding... The vet was optimistic though, ASSUMING it was just the hay, and said he would likely do fine with high intensity work so long as his environment is managed.

I've read about supplementing the diet with MSM and vitamin C as well.

Any tips or thoughts?? I wonder how a horse like this would do with work in an indoor arena...?

I'm going to try to manage this, but..... Always get a PPE!

I'd post a photo of him but I forgot to snap one! (he was SUCH a good boy at the vets. Maybe cause he couldn't breath hah)
Posted via Mobile Device

Last edited by SnowCowgirl; 08-27-2013 at 12:58 AM.
SnowCowgirl is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 19 Old 08-27-2013, 02:24 AM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 5,685
• Horses: 0
It all comes down to management.
No more roundbale, unless it is covered in a slowfeeder net, so he cannot bury his nose in it. I personally would rather take hay off the bale and stuff in a net to make sure there's no mold anywhere. The no mold/ no dust counts for any hay.
Scattering it might be possible, yes. Washing or steaming the hay before feeding might become necessary. Or feeding haylage instead of hay.
Other feed is best given moist.
Horse should not be stalled.
Riding indoors....not if it's dusty.
MSM should help, vitamin C wouldn't hurt.
Easy on the cortisone shots. The more he gets the more often he'll need them and they'll eventually quit working. It might be a good idea to have a little asthma inhaler for people on hand, for an acute crisis. I took a bucket just big enough to fit the muzzle in, cut a little hole for the nozzle of the inhaler and gave 4 " pumps" morning and evening. Just might be enough to avoid a cortisone shot.
deserthorsewoman is offline  
post #3 of 19 Old 08-27-2013, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 564
• Horses: 2
Is cortisone what the vet would have given to him yesterday? (All I know is that he said it was some sort of steroid).

I'll definitely look into one of those big round bale slow feeder nets (I wanted to get one anyway) but I see what you mean about pulling it apart to make sure the hay is ok. I really hope I won't have to wet the hay in the winter because I live wayyyyy up north but the vet did describe something involving a water trough heater that might keep the wet hay from freezing.

I'm going on a hunt for MSM and a round bale net today.

That's a great suggestion about the inhaler! Luckily (well, not "luckily" but you know!) my boyfriend has asthma lol. Ill but a couple using his prescription for just in case.

I hope this all works out.
Posted via Mobile Device
deserthorsewoman likes this.
SnowCowgirl is offline  
post #4 of 19 Old 08-27-2013, 01:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,627
• Horses: 0
You can get MSM from 10lbs for i think 39.95 plus shipping for 10lbs which isnt much. Its helped my heavey horse alot.
spirit88 is offline  
post #5 of 19 Old 08-27-2013, 03:01 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 5,685
• Horses: 0
If all else fails, get small slowfeeder nets, fill them, soak them, drip dry somewhere indoors, over a wheelbarrow or tub, and then hang them out. I would worry about wet hay going bad in summer, but when it's cold out, you could do the soaking and drip drying during the day, so it won't freeze to a solid block.......I hope
I do think with the nets soaking shouldn't be necessary, especially if you shake it out before stuffing it in the net. Horse can only pull out a tiny bit at a time, so no big clouds of dust coming either. Most important is visual and smell check for mold.
deserthorsewoman is offline  
post #6 of 19 Old 08-28-2013, 10:02 AM
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Great White North
Posts: 662
• Horses: 0
Originally Posted by spirit88 View Post
You can get MSM from 10lbs for i think 39.95 plus shipping for 10lbs which isnt much. Its helped my heavey horse alot.
She's in Canada, so shipping would be more expensive and some sites don't offer shipping horse supplements into Canada.

Greenhawk and Apple Saddlery both supply MSM in many sizes. I know Finishline the product makes a Vitamin C powder for horses. Greenhawk is a supplier for them so they may have it available in their stores, but I didn't see it on their website.
Evansk is offline  
post #7 of 19 Old 08-28-2013, 11:03 AM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 163
• Horses: 0
When my old gelding was diagnosed with heaves my vet recomended feeding him haylage or soaking hay cubes for him. I also kept Ventipulmin Syrup on hand and if I was planning on working him in a dusty environment he was fed this in his grain. He was always kept on pasture, never in a stall. Goldie lived to the ripe old age of 37 and was rode right up until he passed. The heaves were never a real issue as long as we managed it correctly. I did find with him that stress could trigger a serious attack so keeping him happy and stressfree was important.
Stillstandin is offline  
post #8 of 19 Old 08-28-2013, 11:58 AM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Niagara Region, Ontario
Posts: 66
• Horses: 0
I agree with the advise you are getting and MSM and vitamin C will help but I don't think I would close the deal too quickly on this horse. You may want to have more information before you consider keeping the horse. It can sometimes be very heart breaking at the end of the day. There are horses that do well with good management. I have experienced it first hand at with careful management and lots of care he did well for 4 years but he eventually passed away in the field one morning due to hear failure. He was able to be trail ridden on his good days and he loved it but on bad days he could not be ridden. That really didn't matter to me but he did enjoy his trails. I had this horse from the time he was 4 years old, I bought him from the breeder and had him for 10 years. He was the love of my life and I learned a lot but I have to be honest and say I am not sure I would be able to handle the heartache again. So this horse developed the problem even though I did not feed round bales but the breeder did so the question can never be answered if that may have contributed to, or caused the problem. He really didn't show any signs of it until he was around 9 years old and I soaked all his feed, soaked all the hay and he lived outside 24/7. He was 14 when I lost him.

Good luck, sorry I don't mean to paint a bleak picture, the horse may be fine but I just wanted to let you know it can take a toll on them as well.
horse happy likes this.
sachmo is offline  
post #9 of 19 Old 08-28-2013, 12:14 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 5,685
• Horses: 0
Agree with Sachmo. I lost two this way. One died literally in my arms from heart failure at age 26, has been symptom free most of the years I had him(15) until we moved to that barn. The second one started showing symptoms in that barn and left me the same way, but much earlier, after eight years of fighting and trying and doing all possible in an unfit environment ( very humid and mold everywhere).
Lung diseases eventually affect the heart.
The better you can manage him, the longer he'll live. If you have to rely on other people to keep him " out of trouble", well, don't rely on them.
horse happy likes this.
deserthorsewoman is offline  
post #10 of 19 Old 08-28-2013, 02:21 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 564
• Horses: 2
Well, the deal was closed before I found out unfortunately, so now I need to deal with it. As I said, I SHOULD have gotten a PPE but it was not reasonable to do so... On the bright side I did not pay much for this horse.

I'm going to give him some time on pasture. The vet gave me a week-long course of Dex to get it cleared up to begin with. After this my first step will be to try a round bale net. The net will minimize dust flying up from him grabbing big mouthfuls. If that doesn't work I'm going to attempt the idea of soaking/drip drying small hay nets. Where I live it is REALLY cold all winter (as Evansk knows!!) so I'm a bit worried about feeding wet feed all winter due to freezing in under 20 mins, which is why is like to avoid cubes, but like I said the vet did suggest an idea using a heater to keep it from freezing

I talked to the sellers yesterday, turns out they DID know about the heaves (hurray for interrogation skills), and they just chose to not mention it.... I found out that (so they say...) he has only had this problem for about a month. He is on hay from last year, it is part alfalfa (which the vet says is bad), and neither his sire or dam have issues. He was in a small dirt pen for at least the last year.

I'm hoping that if I get him out of the dusty pen, off the loose round bale, and off alfalfa that'll fix him. Fingers crossed! Stillstandin I will look into that syrup as well. If his case isn't too bad I'd like to be able to ride him in the indoor during winter but we'll see

Sachmo, that's sad :( I'm REALLY hoping his will clear right up... If it doesn't, I would consider euthanasia. I hope it does clear up though and I want to try to help him. I just can't let go of the thought that it might be as simple as getting him off alfalfa and roundbales.
Posted via Mobile Device
SnowCowgirl is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Persistent coughing. People with "heaves" experience, thoughts? New_image Horse Health 3 10-06-2012 08:36 PM
Tips/ideas for dealing with a small indoor. MudPaint Horse Training 1 04-16-2011 04:06 PM
Heaves...Help Trish2010 Horse Health 4 05-20-2010 09:30 PM
Heaves? BrokenWings Horse Health 20 09-25-2009 08:29 AM
New Arrival-Tips and Thoughts Welcome! missy06 Horse Talk 3 10-09-2008 01:16 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome