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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
so as my 16 year old grade quarab gets older she has had some health problems spring up. she used to be an easy keeper now im struggling too keep weight on her and we are pretty sure she has heaves (we will have the vet out in the next couple of weeks when she has time to come out.) the heaves may have something to do with the weight loss. she has had round bales (We honestly didn't know it was bad for horses until very recently and most people out here feed round bales) all her life which i think is the problem. we are now planning to buy other types of hay, but what can i due till then and until the vet can come out.

would feeding her wet hay in a net help? i already soak her feed and i did notice she does better that way. she is already on 24/7 turn out but should i spray the pasture if it gets too dusty?

i know we don't have a for sure diagnosis but i want to make changes now so it can start to help her. Brownie has never had health issues up until last year and I'm concerned how fast she went down hill. she's always been quite girthy without being overweight and her breathing is heavy and harsh. I'm not sure what else it could be but heaves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
a little additional information. we had our old vet out last summer and they said it was the heat which had mad sense as her troubles had been very off and on. she could be fine for weeks then cough and heave for a week and so on. it was only very recently her breathing got bad.
 

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Yes, feeding wet hay will absolutely help. A net may or may not be needed. Eating with their head down helps clear out mucous but eating from the ground may introduce too much dust if it's sandy/dirty.
Get the vet out sooner than later, especially if you are saying her breathing is laboured and she's struggling enough that she's losing weight. She needs medication.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
the vet will be out as soon as possible but she is the one of only two large animal vets in our area so it's very much about getting an appointment. her winter paddock is a dirt lot so i'm not keen on feeding her on the ground but i may try putting it in a hay net in an old trough to try and keep it as dust free as possible. hopefully things will get better when i can move her in the larger pasture with grass and after the vet gets out here. she isn't struggling to breath it's just noticeably heavy so they aren't considering her an emergency.
 

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If it is heaves please know that hay gets steamed for heaves and soaked for metabolic issues:)

You can easily build your own hay steamer for around $100, maybe less if you already have some of things needed:)

If that turns out to be the case, google “homemade hay steamers”. There are several YouTube videos and how-to articles.

These days, there are oral meds on the market for heavy horses. I haven’t dealt with heaves since I was young. In those days we gave children’s Cheracol (without codeine) Cough Syrup to the horse but in this case I would stick with the modern equine meds:)

Hopefully the vet can see the horse sooner than later but with spring grass coming on, she may get a little better anyway.

Also, the mare could be dealing with ulcers. They will cause a horse to lose weight or they can also develop as a result of constantly dealing with another health issue:)

If your horse is really looking poor and/or it clearly has a hard line along its side back to the flank, take a picture and text it to the vet. Pictures often get vet’s feet moving faster than words:)

Good luck and please update:’
 

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You can soak, steam, or wet hay for heaves. All that matters is getting the dust knocked down. Hay steamers work well if you have the power and water supply available

There are oral meds, but it's better to avoid them. Since they are steroids, you cant use a lot of other medications along side them and they have a risk of causing laminitis. Environment management is #1. Otherwise you have inhaled bronchodilators and steroids which have a targeted effect on only the lungs. Those are safe to use with other medications and dont have the risk of laminitis.

If it's a fairly sudden development, it's important to be sure the breathing issues aren't caused by a low key pneumonia. If you could haul to the clinic, that would give you the bonus of being able to scope the trachea if needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The internet just said wet it so I'll keep the steaming in my head. I'll look into it tonight. Good news is she's doing better tonight that this morning and more like herself when I went to feed her. I'll see about treating her for ulcers, but sadly it looks like the vet won't be out until early next month but if she gets any worse I'll definitely try sending a picture. I've switched around some thing with her feed I think part of the problem is I've been feeding her the same amount I would and easy keeper and didn't take into account her advancing age and the added effort of her breathing problem.
 

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When I had a heavy horse I took an old water trough that had a couple of holes in it and i would put the hay for two horses in it and water the hay down very thoroughly as there was a few holes in the trough the water would slowly drain out but by then the hay was completely wet.
This worked very well for this mare and she was out most of the time and when in it was in an open pole barn so still a lot of fresh air circulating around, she had pasture in the summer so this also helped.
I hope you find out the problem and can help her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Woodhaven we actually have an old stock tank with holes in it that will work perfectly for that which is good because I'm terrible at making hay nets.

A little update. She's doing better today and is breathing a little better. Sadly still no luck on getting a vet out. They are closed today and only taking emergencys. I talked with my grandmother and we both agree a part of her problem is she's lonely. She lost her pasture buddy last October and we where trying to see if she could wait until I bought a new riding horse. I found a draft cross colt that I'm more than likely going to pay to reserve if I like his confirmation in the updated pictures. But she's really not gonna love a young colt as a companion, she prefers older horses so I'm currently looking for and older pasture companion for her. I'm holding off though until I get a vet out. I want to make sure her breathing problems isn't actually contagious before bringing another horse here.
 

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Check the rescues in your area for pasture companions, especially the 501(c)3 rescues. They often receive horses that are not rideable but need a soft landing for several years:)

I lost my heart horse when he was 27. I had rescued an Arab when it was seven years old; he was 18 months older than my other horse. Those two horses had been buds for 22 years

When Duke passed away, the Arab, who had always been a hard keeper, gave up and I lost him six months later, at age 29.

That left horse #3 in the pecking order without his two leaders, whom he had known since he was 2-1/2. It took him close to two years to resemble anything normal and it took him a few more years before he would venture to the spot at the top of the ridge that was Duke’s favorite place to for everyone to graze.

Meaning, I doubt the breathing issue is contagious, so don‘t wait too long to find a friend for your horse:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Definitely not the cause of the breathing problems but I definitely think it had a hand in her weight loss. I found an ad for a 20 year old haflinger mare with ringtone that looks good. There are quite a few in my area right now. At the end of the day brownie gets a friend and an old horse gets nice home for the rest of their life. I've had a senior mini a few years back that she was really close too. I don't know why but she gravitates towards old horses (her last pasture mate was a gelding in his early 20s) sadly that means she loose them. The mini had some of the worst arthritis our vet had seen. She was a sweetheart through and her death saddens me six years later.
 

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I preferred steaming my hay for our senior who was coughing very badly when we first got him. Less messy than wetting, especially in winter, but clearly, that's not your case. Wetting is fine, just don't let it soak for a long time because it will lose nutrients.

There are some things than can help - Respi-free by Omega Alpha, or Zev, which I really like. But for our old guy, a 28 day round of Ventipulmin stopped the coughing permanently. Certainly, good ventilation in the barn is crucial (mine are also out 24/7).

As for the weight loss, how are her teeth? Our senior's teeth get floated every year, and we now realize they are getting pretty worn down which explains why he takes so long to eat hay now. I've added Evolve by Elite Three to his wet feedings (a mixture of molasses-free beet pulp and timothy hay cubes) and that has helped a lot. But when he is in work, he needs extra so I give him 3 feedings of beet pulp, hay cubes and Evolve + all his vitamins and minerals each day. The extra feeding really helps him stay at a good weight. He still gets lots of hay, but because he shares it with two other horses, and eats more slowly, we know he's not getting as much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
As for the weight loss, how are her teeth? Our senior's teeth get floated every year, and we now realize they are getting pretty worn down which explains why he takes so long to eat hay now. I've added Evolve by Elite Three to his wet feedings (a mixture of molasses-free beet pulp and timothy hay cubes) and that has helped a lot. But when he is in work, he needs extra so I give him 3 feedings of beet pulp, hay cubes and Evolve + all his vitamins and minerals each day. The extra feeding really helps him stay at a good weight. He still gets lots of hay, but because he shares it with two other horses, and eats more slowly, we know he's not getting as much.
She's never needed floating before, but i was already planning on having the vet check when she's out. brownie won't let me look at her teeth. she doesn't seem to have any trouble eating. i feed her twice a day. she eats the safechoice maintenance pellets and soaked hay cubes. occasionally she gets an extra treat like apples or third a bag of a sweet treat meant to be mixed in grain that i get in a saddlebox (according to packaging you are meant to give a whole bag but that is way more sugar than she should be getting in my opinion) i'm thinking of adding something that adds some more fat like oil or switching her to the Safe choice senior not really sure yet i want to talk to my vet first.
 

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She's never needed floating before, but i was already planning on having the vet check when she's out. brownie won't let me look at her teeth. she doesn't seem to have any trouble eating. i feed her twice a day. she eats the safechoice maintenance pellets and soaked hay cubes. occasionally she gets an extra treat like apples or third a bag of a sweet treat meant to be mixed in grain that i get in a saddlebox (according to packaging you are meant to give a whole bag but that is way more sugar than she should be getting in my opinion) i'm thinking of adding something that adds some more fat like oil or switching her to the Safe choice senior not really sure yet i want to talk to my vet first.
Are you saying she's 16 years old and has never had her teeth floated? Sorry, but all horses need points removed as their teeth don't wear evenly. Mine are done every year, and I have horses of varying ages. At 16, she most certainly needs her teeth floated. If your vet says she doesn't, I'd get another vet or, if you have this in your area, get a equine dentist out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well never needed it as far as I know. My grandmother handled all vet visits when I was a child and teenager but she never mentioned it. I actually thought it was only for old horses thanks for correcting me. I'll ask her if B has ever had it done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I just asked my grandmother and she has gotten her teeth floated in the past. Like I said above I was never here during vet visits as I was normally in school. I'll always admit I don't know everything that's why I'm on here to learn from people with more experience.
 

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Floated teeth is quick and painless, and does not cost very much. It is a common cause of weight loss in horses as they move into their senior years. Even if she has had her teeth looked at or floated in the past, at her age, this should be done at least once a year.

Not having teeth floated is more wasteful because horses cannot properly chew (it can be very painful if they have hooks or points that dig into their cheeks as they chew) so they may drop food or not chew it enough to get the nutrients. Horse's teeth continually erupt throughout their lives, and the chewing motion grinds them down. They do have a finite tooth length though, and once they reach that, the teeth may become worn. Even then, you want to use a speculum to look way back into a horse's mouth to see if the molars have sharp points that need to be ground so they're even with the rest of the tooth.

I have my horses' teeth done annually, when I have them vaccinated.

Editing to add: I just read your response. When did your horse have her teeth floated? Because at her age, this needs to be done about once a year, even if it's just the vet having a good look in her mouth and filing down one or two points.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I believe the year before last. Last year the vet said her teeth were good. I think she's likely going to need it this year. When I have the vet out for her breathing I'm going to have them also do her teeth shots and bloodwork just to get everything done at once. I'm gonna try the vet we take our dogs too. I'm not sure if they're a mixed practice but it's worth a shot
 
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