Coughing, tripping... Should I be worried? (sorry it's kind of long...)
Last sunday I had a lesson at a place I hadn't been to before. While I was riding, I noticed Roxy was coughing pretty badly. She would stretch her neck down and cough, almost like she was choking but she definitely wasn't. I thought it was strange, especially because she didn't slow down or act uncomfortable at all. The footing there is weird, so I just figured it was the dust from that that was bothering her. When I went to ride her the next day though, she was coughing again. It's been really dry lately so I thought it again might be dust, but it poured the last 20 minutes of our ride and she still did it once or twice. Yesterday when I rode, she was coughing pretty badly. She was full of energy, so I finally decided to let her just fly around the ring for a few minutes so she could calm down a bit. After a couple times around, she starting coughing but every time I'd loosen the reins so she could cough, she'd take off even faster. So she clearly wasn't really uncomfortable, but the coughing is still concerning. I also noticed when I jumped her over a small fence (about 2'3) she caught her hind legs on it. I didn't think too much of that, but she did the same thing when I rode her today. She never hits anything and we've been schooling 3'3 or so no problem. Its very unusual for her to hit anything, especially multiple times. She coughed maybe 5 times in a 40-50 minute ride, but it was really dusty today. We did some hill work in the field and she felt kinda funny going downhill at the trot. She was fine at the walk and canter, and was totally fine doing on the flat or uphill, but downhill she just felt weird. Not lame, just disjointed almost... She's also been tripping a fair amount lately, but her feet were due to be done (they were trimmed today, so we'll see if the tripping improves tomorrow.)
So to summarize; She's been coughing every 10 minutes or so when I ride, usually while doing heavier work (cantering or jumping) but she did do it once or twice at the walk or the beginning of trotting. She's been moving a little strangely and tripping a lot. She acts perfectly okay otherwise and doesn't seem sick at all, but the coughing is a little concerning since I've never had a single health problem with her in the three years I've owned her. Could it just be allergies? (She's field kept and on tall weeds and crap...) And maybe she's tripping because her feet were long and it's been hot so she isn't paying much attention? I feel like I'm kind of overreacting but I obviously want to get the vet out soon if I think it's anything worth worrying about. Any ideas/opinions?
I would also be a little concerned. It has been very hot and dry here (record breaking temps and drought) and many horses are coming up with dust pneumonia.
I would monitor his temperature very closely and would get a Vet check if his temperature goes up and if he does not improve by Tuesday (it will be very hard to get a Vet over the holiday weekend without spending a fortune), I would get a Vet to look at him.
If you think his stumbling is anything other than long toes, you can have someone lead him while you pull on his tail very hard to one side and then the other. Any neurological disorder will show up when you use a horse's tail to pull it off balance. If that happens, get a Vet right away -- holiday or not.
check temp. for sure. Could your horse maybe have asthma? We have one horse at the stable that every time it goes to a new place gets horrible asthma. He coughs a lot, but he's such a hard worker he doesn't act like it affects him. You could also check for strangles, temperature and feeling the lymph nodes behind the jaw should work. It doesn't sound like strangles, but each horse reacts differently. Good Luck, and hopefully your horse is ok =)
I'm on the temp check band wagon. I'm thinking that it's the dry dust or allergies but it could be something more. The catching of the hind legs over jumps could be related especially since coughing really takes the energy away.
I would watch her for a day or two if she's not running a fever and then put a call into the vet. You can ask their advice over the phone but be very descriptive so that they can give you an idea as to wether they should come out or not.
Roxy has gotten a lot better in the last couple of days. Saturday we had an event and did two courses. She coughed once towards the end of the longer course but then was done. It rained last night and she didn't cough at all today when I rode her. I'm guessing it's just an allergy of some sort, and the dust is making it worse. I'll keep an eye on her of course to make sure she continues getting better. Thanks guys!
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