huffing and puffing

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huffing and puffing

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

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    09-23-2009, 04:04 PM
Question huffing and puffing

Ok so last week I worked with this little haflinger that I have been working with and riding for some time now. When I got her out of her stall, I noticed she was sweaty on her neck and chest but it's florida and I thought maybe she was running around out in the pasture before they brought her in (just came in from pasture) so I didn't think too much of it. After I worked with her, I noticed she was breathing heavy, kind of huffing and puffing although we had only just been doing walking mostly ( a little trotting on the lunge line) but I thought maybe she's just out of shape. I hosed her down until her breathing seemed more normal and then put her up. That was sunday, today is wednesday. So today I went to go ride her. When I got there, the horses were still at pasture while their stalls were getting cleaned. They were all just standing around grazing just outside the barn, waiting to be let in. They were let in, fed their grain etc... my little haflinger only gets a little grain because she is a FAT little girl and all she does is eat eat she was done in no time. I went up to her stall once she was finished and noticed she was huffing and puffing, like she had done sunday after I was done working with her. And her chest and neck were rather sweaty. I thought maybe with the excitement of coming in and eating??? I went and checked the other horses and they were all breathing just fine, relaxed. So I waited a bit and went back and checked on her. Same thing, huffing and puffing. I thought maybe I'm imagining things and she's just SNIFFING to see if I have treats. So I stood there for a while and she went back to ignoring me...but she was still standing there with her head down, breathing like she had just run a race and was out of breath. What would cause a horse to breathe like that???? I know that she eats just fine, she pee's and poops just fine (I saw them clean out her stall). I just don't know if her owner will pay for a vet to look at her so I'm wondering if anyone knows what would cause this.
Once my friend and I rode horses at this place where you could rent them and go on trail rides. My friends horse started breathing like that shortly after we started off on the trail ride. When we were done and brought the horse back, the manager type person that was there asked one of the girls that worked there, why the horse was breathing like that. The girl replied 'he always breathes like that' but the woman was more concerned. She said get that saddle off that horse and said that the girth was too tight. So after last sunday, I thought maybe I had over tightened the girth. But today, she didn't have a saddle on, hadn't been ridden or lunged. Nothing.
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    09-23-2009, 04:17 PM
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Commonly called Heaves. Have your vet come out to check your horse.

It could also be heat related, but sounds a bit more like heaves.
    09-23-2009, 06:30 PM
Sigh...this sounds EXACTLY like what she has. I've done a little research on it and read the other thread titled 'heaves' and it sounds exactly like it. So, in the off chance that her owner decides not to have it treated by a vet (they are short on cash lately) much danger am I putting her in by riding her? What should I avoid?
    09-23-2009, 06:52 PM
I would not ride her if she is not breathing well. You can do damage to her already damaged lungs.

You need to get the inflammation down in her lungs, if they do not treat her, this condition will get worse with each attack.

There is some evidence now that treating a horse will help repair lung tissue, but not treating will only make matters get worse and worse.

A bottle of Dexamethasone is cheap and will last you for almost a month. Our vet charges $20.00 for the bottle. You feed the Dex to the horse (top dress it on her food).

You can also get your vet to give you a prescription for it and get it cheaper at online vet supply places, like Jeffers. I've seen it for as low as $7.95.

Please get the owner to treat this horse!

You also need to try to figure out what is causing the heaves. Most heaves horses have allergy to hay and/or grass. You need to soak all the hay this horse eats to help manage the heave attacks, and keep the horse away from hay in the barn.

It's a management problem as much as a physical problem and your Barn Owner needs to understand that this horse has to be managed differently.

My horse, Dixie, is finally doing well on 5cc of Dex one day and 3cc the next, and rotating it that way. I am soaking all her hay. She is now able to be turned out to pasture for 5 hours a day without heaving.

Continue to educate yourself about this. Work with your vet to get the horse relief.
    09-23-2009, 07:00 PM
I'm reading and reading, everything I can find online. I emailed her owner on it and told her I think this is what it is and that it doesn't sound like it's that big of a deal to treat. The stall that she is kept in during the day, is on the end of the barn. It is a dirt floor barn but it is muddy all the time when I'm out there because it rains every day now and the water must get into their somehow...probably all the stalls are wet, just some more than others. The barn isn't completely closed in, so some rain probably blows in I'm guessing. I can't say much for the hay as there hasn't been much of any out there lately. I'm figuring they just can't afford it...sometimes there's just a bale or two, sometimes just some scraps. When I went out there on sunday, each horse was given a handful of scraps because that's all that was left. But they were waiting for someone who was supposed to be bringing food later that day. That was sunday, when I went out today there was no hay...just bags of grain. This horses owner's horses get turned out at night and her mothers horses (its her mothers house) get turned out during the day. This just makes me really sad because I feel like these horses aren't cared for very well to begin with, now this horse might have heaves! I have always thought, since the horses were moved out there, if I owned a horse...I would NOT board it out there. The place where they used to be was MUCH better, although there wasn't much grass to speak of. At least their stalls were in better condition and there was less garbage in the pasture.

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