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Hey everyone! Merry (late) Christmas to those who celebrated, and I hope you're all having a wonderful holiday!

I'm looking for some advice from those who are familiar with heaves. I've been having some concerns regarding my thirteen year-old QH/Perch mare, Willow, and from what I've read or been told it's pointing towards her having them. I've had her for just over a year now, and she's an amazing little horse. With that said, there have been a few things I've noticed - or just put together - that have brought me here.

When I first got her (around this time last year), I was only able to ride her 1 - 2 times a week. She was always peppy, very forward, and feisty; fast-forward a year, and I have a completely different horse. When ridden regularly she is sluggish, grumpy, and unwilling - but, if given rest, she returns to that prancey little fireball. At first I figured it was pain, so I looked into it; nothing as far as I could tell pointed to that. After that point, I had a feeling it was just that I had pushed her too far and worn her out.

It was on a ride a few weeks ago that my stepdad pointed out her breathing, and since that point it's really worried me. She hyperventilates majority of the time on each ride, and it's generally pretty irregular. I would understand if we were trotting for long periods of time or running them, but this is literally after walking on a trail with small bouts of very brief trotting. It's hilly and tiring, but Phil's own mare - who was off majority of the year due to pregnancy - had no such issues.

As well, in late Spring/Summer she developed a cough. It was dry, and increased the harder she worked; after speaking with the previous owner, she said it was a regular yearly thing and that it "could be worked through." It seemed somewhat immobilizing, though, so I took it easy with her instead.

She seems fine galloping in the pasture, but can have an intolerance to exercise on certain occasions. Either she wants to go, or she would rather not move at all.

Finally, I was looking into the "heave-line" thing and was started when looking at a few pictures of her. Most of them have nothing, but then there are these...






Am I just paranoid? Could this all be due to a lack of fitness? I'm just looking for some opinions. She is a wonderful girl, and I just want to ensure she is happy and healthy.

Thanks everyone! I apologize if I seem uneducated, as well, as this is something I'm not familiar with in the least.
 

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Sounds like seasonal allergies, turning into heaves, yes.
I'd talk to the vet about anti histamines for the recurring cough, and treat her like a heaves horse.... eliminating triggers. Wet hay, no eating from a round bale, living out, not in a barn, short, keeping her away from dust and mold. You can eliminate symptoms that way, her breathing will improve greatly. She will have damage, that's not reversible, but if you can keep her symptom free, you have a pretty normal, healthy horse.
She's super pretty,btw :)
 
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