Horse choke

Horse choke is a condition that can affect horses and I experienced this first hand. It’s easy to start panicking when you see your horse distressed.

That’s what happened to me until a friend arrived ,and told me to calm down as I was making the situation worse.

Stunning black horse

Choke in horses occurs when there is a blockage in the oesophagus (the tube which food passes).

When this happens, the horse is unable to swallow, but don’t panic, he will still be able to breathe.

I was just ready to leave the yard when I was drawn to my horse’s stable.

His head was extended downwards in the direction of the floor and was having difficulty swallowing.

He was trying his best to swallow, whilst making this awful coffin noise, which was very unpleasant to watch.

The longer it went on, the more he was salivating from the mouth, and his neck muscles were very tight.

Luckily for me, my friend took over, as I didn’t know what was happening and what to do for the best.

She stood calmly by the left hand side of my horse’s neck and gently massaged the jugular groove.

With my friend’s help my horse relaxed and the obstruction released itself.

It was such a relief for me when it was over. The episode felt like a very long time but in fact it was only a few minutes.

Talking to my friend later, I learnt a little bit more.

Horse choke can occur in horses that –

  • Bolt their food (greedy horse).
  • Are fed feed that should be soaked, such as speedy bête.
  • Are fed foods whole, such as apples or carrots, instead of chopping them up into little pieces.

Swallowing a foreign object such as wood whilst cribbing or just biting it.

How to avoid horse choke.

Apples and carrots should always be cut up into small pieces. If your horse rushes his food, you could soak it to slow him down.

If you feed cubes, try adding chaff to mix with it. This will also slow him down as he sifts through the chaff to get the nuts first.

Sugar beet is another option to mix with his feed.      

Important information

If the horse is unable to dislodge the blockage, you must phone your vet and stay with the horse until he or she arrives.

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