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So, my horse is super allergic to hay, it seems. She's been on it for a long time now (over a year) due to bad pasture management. We're moving in spring when our grass is ready to be grazed again, but until then, her allergy is through the roof. Problem is - she's been heaving for as long as she's gotten hay, but she isn't doing damage to her lungs, doesn't cough, doesn't have a runny nose, doesn't have flared nostrils. She had x-rays of her lungs taken, no problem at all. She had an endoscopy - again nothing wrong.

Yet, she's in her pasture 24/7 looking like an asthmatic patient who's trying really really hard not to look like one. She's obviously stressed due to not being able to breathe well. She doesn't squeak, you can't hear her breathing bad, but you can see it through abdominal forced breathing. Her flanks are sunken in due to the lack of air.

We've had seven vets and a clinic. They're saying the only thing there is is cortisone (is that the word here too?) But I'd rather not because it doesn't help in the long run.

She's been on antibiotics just in case with the last vet since last week, but it's obviously not doing anything. She's been on medication for mucus in her lungs, but no dice.

So - I'm just stumped, everyone's stumped, it disappears when she's on proper grass but it's literally snowing here so no chance of that. The grass still needs to grow, but it'll take a few months yet.

Any ideas? I'm out of them...

Soaked or steamed hay sadly doesn't work for her. Changes of feed don't either. She's a stubborn little ******.
 

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I had a horse with heaves and we didn't give him any hay at all. There are complete feeds you can give, for his nutrition, then try giving him straw for fiber and something to do.

My horse ate shavings too, didn't hurt him.


He was also on Albuterol when his allergies were really bad. Make sure your horse is not out in bitter cold, or burning hot, very difficult to breath during extremes of weather.
 

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Look into complete feeds like Triple Crown Sr. It's designed for horses who can't have hay be it from poor teeth or like those in your case. Read the ingredients, it's filled with roughage as well as needed nutrients. The feeding instructions are important, especially in your case where this will be the sole food source. I would pull her completely off hay since no steam/soak method has improved her. Even though there may be no visible damage, for heaves that severe she's obviously miserable and using up a ton of calories just to breathe and to get enough oxygenation to her organs. Good luck!
https://www.triplecrownfeed.com/products/senior/
 

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Can you give us some ideas of what brands are available in your country "Belgium"....


Many of our members do not realize that when in a foreign nation feed-stuffs might and do vary greatly.
Assisting us with some brands would allow our knowledgeable members to do some research and offer ideas that are available to you to purchase in your country. :smile:
:runninghorse2:...
 

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What about Alfalfa pellets? Or a complete feed? Look at senior feeds as they are often designed as complete feeds.

Complete feeds are designed to replace hay either partially or completely. I once worked for someone who did not feed any hay to her senior horses. All the horses got about 15lbs of complete feed a day. They had glossy coats and were in the picture of health.

Senior feed is expensive. About $22 a bag. A 50lb bag lasts 3 and 1/3 days if you feed 15lbs a day. So about 9 bags a month, or $200 a month.

Alfalfa is about half that cost $11 a bag USD. That is why my senior horse gets alfalfa with a vitamin mineral supplement, and free choice coastal hay.

I'm not sure what feeds are available in your country but there must be something your horse can eat other than hay. If your horse is that allergic to hay, you need to switch to a complete feed of some sort. Give her some tough love- if she refuses to eat her grain, wait a few hours. I would also expect ulcers- the only time my horses won't eat all their grain is if they have ulcers.

My horses are sensitive to the dust in hay. Hosing the hay off helps, if you don't want to soak it. My horses aren't as bad as yours though.
 

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As a human with asthma, I can tell you albuterol is a miracle drug! I can go from wheezing so bad you can hear me, to not wheezing at all in about 30 seconds. I don't know how expensive or practical albuterol is for horses, I have just heard of it being used (in magazines like The Horse).

I'm guessing the easiest thing to try is to wet down whatever you are feeding.....hay, pellets, complete feed, whatever. Because dust is a major trigger. I know I get wheezy after moving hay. Hay often has a low amount of mold spores too, even if you can't see it. So wet down everything he eats and try to keep him out of dusty/moldy conditions.

Best of luck, that has to be miserable for the horse.
 

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As a human with asthma, I can tell you albuterol is a miracle drug! I can go from wheezing so bad you can hear me, to not wheezing at all in about 30 seconds. I don't know how expensive or practical albuterol is for horses, I have just heard of it being used (in magazines like The Horse).

I'm guessing the easiest thing to try is to wet down whatever you are feeding.....hay, pellets, complete feed, whatever. Because dust is a major trigger. I know I get wheezy after moving hay. Hay often has a low amount of mold spores too, even if you can't see it. So wet down everything he eats and try to keep him out of dusty/moldy conditions.

Best of luck, that has to be miserable for the horse.
I have Asthma too and it pains me to think of this poor horse outside wheezing so badly. The horses lungs will be getting progressively worse.

My heavy horse got Albuterol in pill form and we just sprinkled it over his feed and he ate it no problem.

He had to be carefully brought back into work each spring as he was worse in fall.

We also kept him a dust free as possible, vacuuming him daily and frequent baths in the summer.

He never was fed any hay at all and was fine!
 

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Thanks for the tips!

Can you give us some ideas of what brands are available in your country "Belgium"....


Many of our members do not realize that when in a foreign nation feed-stuffs might and do vary greatly.
Assisting us with some brands would allow our knowledgeable members to do some research and offer ideas that are available to you to purchase in your country. :smile:
:runninghorse2:...
So, there's a lot of brands here of course. I'll explain a few - Pavo, Marstall, Cavalor, Mijten, Lannoo, Equifyt, Hartog, Aveve.

Pavo creates muesli's mostly, mixes that generally look like a bit of lucerne, wheat, some pellets,... It's a general thing. Same goes for all brands, actually. Equifyt is the natural brand we have here, no grains, most of the time based on herbs. Lana doesn't eat it at all - She'll look at you, pick up her bucket, and throw it at your feet, contents included. Mijten is our local brand, generall smells a bit odd, sticks together often like it's pumped full of sugar. Marstall I think most people know - it's from Germany. She's been on the Faser light (no grains, melasses,..) but moving to Lannoo fibermix (for horses with ulcers, has lucerne, grain, etc. for some reason, but she's done well on it before). Then you've got Cavalor, also a muesli brand. The starch is apparently through the roof, because not only does she not stop breathing hard with this brand - she also gets a skin reaction in bumps. Hartog has some feeds that are generally more grass-based, like these;

https://www.hartog-lucerne.com/krachtvoer/krachtvoer-overig/luzernebrok
https://www.hartog-lucerne.com/krachtvoer/krachtvoer-overig/grasbrok

This one I find rather interesting, but I'm not sure if Lana will actually deign to eat this, because she's picky - https://www.hartog-lucerne.com/ruwvoer/ruwvoer-voor-paarden/gras-mix

There should be the regular number on the end of the page, and google translate to translate the pages does quite a good job!

I've never tried Hartog before though, so I have no idea how that would turn out.

As for the wheezing, she really doesn't? I know it's perhaps hard to believe (seven vets and a clinic agrees, but then they're stumped as to why she doesn't wheeze or have damage to her lungs) but it's the truth. She also doesn't breathe as fast as normal horses with heaves do, like they're having a little attack on their breathing and they're working themselves into a hyperventilation bout. Lana breathes slowly, measuredly. The only way you can tell that she has trouble is her stomach slowly going up, tightening, and doooown. It's super slow, and that's why most vets can't hear much either. She's controlling her breathing big time. She also doesn't squeak, or wheeze, or have flared nostrils, or acts like she's going to faint. She just looks a bit sad, a bit mad, and has sunken flanks from the lack of air. I'll try to video it and upload it in a few hours.

She's now out with a rug, as I want to limit her time indoors. She doesn't truly care, so long as she gets food.
 
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Bonjour du Canada Selaya! Je suis allée souvent en Belgique! Sorry, perhaps you're Flemish :)

I think leaving her out is best, but I agree with the idea of looking at either a complete feed, or soaked hay cubes/pellets. Here in Canada, those are reasonably priced, and are designed to replace hay if needed. I would definitely try to completely eliminate the hay, even just as an experiment to see if she is better. Maybe this will be the solution for her, just for the winter months. If you use hay cubes or pellets (they should be soaked of course), you can always add supplements to them. I know she's fussy, but you can encourage her to start eating a little bit at a time and transition her over slowly. You can add small bits of carrots to the wet feed, a little apple juice, or drops of peppermint oil! My horses do not get a complete feed, they get beet pulp and hay cubes with a mixture of vitamins and minerals as per a custom mix designed by my equine nutritionist, so even if you don't want to use a complete feed, it can be done.

My horse had heaves, but we cured it with steamed hay and Ventipulmin (a broncho-dilator), but it sounds like your horse horse is a fairly difficult case.
 
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