The Horse Forum > Keeping and Caring for Horses > Horse Health


This is a discussion on Heaves? within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

LinkBack Thread Tools
    12-21-2009, 11:39 PM

I've never dealt with heaves before and am curious. I am looking at a trail horse that has "controllable" heaves and will be coming complete with a year's supply of medication. Of course I'm going to have a PPE but I'd like info if anyone has it.
Wanted to add that the current owner says if he's pastured he doesn't have any "episodes" only when he's stalled.
Sponsored Links
    12-22-2009, 12:39 AM
Heaves Consideration

I have a horse that was recently diagnosed with controllable heaves as well, only acts up when she's on Alfalfa so the vet has her on straight grass/feed. The only thing that I would check on is that my vet says that this condition is something that is progressive, meaning it will get worse over time. So, something that is controllable now with the year of medication may not be controllable a few years down the line. I'd just be sure to keep that in mind when making a decision and good luck. Keep me posted on what you decide!
    12-22-2009, 11:18 AM
Yeh, good point. I'm adopting a belgian gelding from a local rescue for my husband. We're getting inspected today.
    12-22-2009, 11:35 AM
Heaves is usually pretty controlable with meds, they are steroids, its simmilar to taking an inhaler. Its like a person, sometimes the asthema goes away, sometimes it doesnt get worse, sometimes it does. Your best bet is to keep the dust down and keep him outside. He might not get worse if he isnt exposed to more crap then he was before.
    12-22-2009, 12:37 PM
I have nothing against heavey horses, if my horse ever devoloped heaves I would do all that I could to keep it under control.

That said: I wouldn't knowingly buy a heavey horse. It is just not worth the extra time paying for the meds etc. when you could be enjoying yourself and saving extra money (especially in this economy). It could get worse.

The horse also could be worse in the spring/summer, since it is winter now he might look even better than he really is.

Also is this horse pastured or in a stall currently? Will he be in a stall or boarded in a stall if you get him? Heavey horses are usually 100% better when they are outside in fresh air 24/7 if he is outside now and you get him and move him into a stall. It could be disasterous.

Even if you have him out on pasture (hopefully you will have adequate forage or grass) if you bring him in to ride. He could have a fare up.

    12-22-2009, 12:53 PM
Heaves tends to be progressive, though it may be slowed by controlling exposure to irritants and treating attacks as soon as the first signs are seen.
Stall/barn keeping causes exposure to high numbers of irritants--molds, dust, fungal spores, etc--so pasturing all year is recommended if the horse's attacks coincide with being in a barn. (There are some horses that have "summer pasture associated heaves" which have attacks from plants in the pastures.) Hay soaking, actually serving it in water, during the winter months is recommended as hay harbors lots of irritants and these become airborne while your horse's nose is stuck right in the hay. Soaking and then serving hay out of water will decrease the amount of airborn irritants only for a short while because hay starts drying out in minutes and irritants become airborne again. A single exposure to irritants affects the body for 3 days, so minimizing exposure is critical.

Treatment for heaves is a combination of steroids and bronchiodilators that are administered at the onset of signs of an attack. Depending on the severity of the disease in a particular patient, a vet may opt to only use one or the other of these types of drugs to treat, but in severe cases both are recommended to treat both halves of the disease process. It is believed that giving antihistamines may help to reduce the risk of attacks by helping to lower the body's reaction to irritants. But antihistamines are not an appropriate treatment for an attack.
    12-22-2009, 01:03 PM
A friend of mine had a mare with bad heaves, which was treatable with meds. The pills she used were not expensive at all, and since the horse is outside you are saving alot of money on bedding already.
    12-22-2009, 01:20 PM
You should do a bit of research on www.thehorse.com There is alot of really good information on this disease there.

The Horse | COPD/Heaves/RAO

The Horse | Heaves Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention: AAEP 2008
    12-22-2009, 09:37 PM
Thanks everyone, I really appreciate the input!
    12-24-2009, 09:10 PM
It might also be allergies...not just "heaves" which is usually just a symptom of an allergy. My horse has many allergies, which I didn't know about when I purchased him. His previous owner said he worked out of his cough. He didn't, and it was definitely worse in allergy season. Then he developed diarrhea as another symptom, then occasional hives. This didn't all happen at once they developed separately over a couple years. Eventually it got to the point he was wheezing so bad he could hardly breathe and I certainly couldn't ride him. I tried every "heave" supplement out there and nothing worked. I finally got a second opinion from a different vet who recommended allergy testing. Turns out he's allergic to 28 different things, including timothy and alfalfa, which he was being fed. I started allergy shots on him and now 6 years later he's 90% better and only has occasional flare ups. They're particularly useful for environmental allergies. Food allergies can only be stopped by not feeding the food they're allergic to. Prolonged steroid use is expensive and not really that good for their body. Bottom line is I wouldn't say absolutely don't get a horse with heaves but beware that just like allergies in humans it can get worse as time goes on or just changing environment as different allergens exist in different environments. It can stay the same and it can also go away. The allergy testing is a little pricey but you only need it once. The shots aren't that expensive...I pay about $140 for 6 months and they've made a world of difference. Good luck and I hope it works out for you!

Quick Reply
Please help keep the Horse Forum enjoyable by reporting rude posts.

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

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Heaves? BrokenWings Horse Health 20 09-25-2009 09:29 AM
Chloe has heaves Angel_Leaguer Horse Health 7 09-10-2009 07:50 AM
Heaves, have you dealt with it? 7Ponies Horse Health 4 08-09-2009 07:43 PM
Regarding Heaves eltinseltown Horse Health 5 11-04-2007 11:08 PM
Heaves? Lyra Horse Health 3 07-14-2007 04:48 PM

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 03:35 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0