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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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.
Thanks!!
 

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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!
 

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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.
 

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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.

JMHO.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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!
 

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My mare has heaves and we have thought about and still think about putting her down soon. It started out fine, but between heaves and her age it's really hard. The steroids she's on sometimes make her a different horse. The shots we've gotten, but they didn't last long and weren't worth the money.
If I had the choice, I would look for a different horse.

If for some reason we missed one pill then she would be coughing and belly breathing. If you don't soak her hay, or if the horse next door has bad hay then she feels it. She also goes through fits where she can't breathe and she will run through the fences, stalls, gaits, you name it.

D; It's just a nasty thing. I started out just like you, getting a horse with an acute case of heaves but then it got worse. And on top of all that, there is no cure.
 

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Take a look at this vid, this is what I meant by "belly breathe" it's a very scary and sad thing. Take it from my experience, it's not worth you getting attached to the horse and then seeing the horse in pain every day. It's just very sad D;

I HATE to see my horse like this.
 
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