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Dealing with heaves in horses


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#1 MooreAcres

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 06:29 PM


My new horse, Emmy, has heaves. They seem pretty mild, although I have noticed that she forces air out a little louder and harder than other horses. I think the fact that she's overweight has something to do with it though. I was just wondering how others of you deal with horses that have heaves. How do you feed them? How do you exercise them? General care?

Thanks, Erin
Erin Moore, Moore Acres (Located in the beautiful state of Oregon)

www.mooreacres.com (currently unavailable, but will get it back up and running soon)

Home to:

Sundance LB Rocket Racer (AMHR)
Sundance LB Rocket Ronnie (ASPC)
2007 dark bay tobiano stallion

Sundance LB She's A Dream (AMHR only)
1997 red based frame overo mare (in foal to Sundance LB Raven, due in April -- foaled a STUNNING black filly with a snip on May 8th, MooreAcres The Black Dahlia)

Sundance LB Verna Benna Blue (AMHR/ASPC)
2004 blue roan mare (in foal to Sundance LB Assured, due in April -- foaled a beautiful black filly with a blaze, partial blue eye, and 2 socks on April 11th, SMO Assured 2 B Blu)

Sundance LB Gems Ava (AMHR/ASPC)
2006 chestnut mare (in foal to Peaceful Valley Jumpin' Jack Splash -- foaled a handsome palomino colt with a blaze, possibly sabino on May 27th, MooreAcres Tequila Lime)

Sundance LB Melon Mojito (AMHR/ASPC)
2008 black mare (in foal Peaceful Valleys Jumpin' Jack Splash -- foaled a handsome palomino colt with a blaze and two blues, possible body white on June 12th, to be named)

DF Chip Ahoy
2001 AMHR silver bay pinto gelding :)

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#2 Kari

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 07:39 PM

My senior gelding, Rudy, has heaves. They were very bad, but I was able to get an allergy test done on him (he's allergic to 31 things, including barn dust, timothy hay, and oats) in order to figure out how to feed him. I also have a custom blend of herbs I feed him, Tri-Hist from the vet, he's anemic so he gets Red Cell, and I mix beet pulp in with his senior feed. He also is on pasture and I supplement that with orchard grass (which I get from another state).

Can you tell I love him? LOL

We used to show, but the allergies and heaves brought an end to that. He's been fine with light work, though, and I was able to get his problems under control. So, I'd say that with your mare, get her on Tri-Hist, and/or herbs (I can dig up where I get mine, if you want), whatever to keep her managable and not become worse. She should be fine with exercise.... just don't expect her to gallop on the beach (Rudy has done this... wacko.gif )!!


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#3 shoeboxstables

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 10:36 PM

Our 30 year old Morgan mare has heaves, and we use a combination of Tri-Hist, an injectable steroid, and something else that I just cant think of right now. Our vet just mentioned to us recently that they have just developed a new treatment for heaves that is one shot every four months, and no problems in between. I'm not sure how it will work on minis, she was testing the effectiveness of it on a few other horses first before we tried it.

Turning her out 24/7 has seemed to help, and if you do stable, good ventillation is a must! Lowering the height of a feed bucket will help, and don't use hay racks, since all the dust and debris will just float into their respitory system. Soaking the hay will help reduce dust there, but it is important to actually soak it for a good 20 mins, hosing is not enough.

We still use her for light work, and just watch their stress levels. Also take note, my mare always is very bad at certain times of day, so pay attention to that. Losing weight would help. Staying active is extremely important, to keep those lungs moving and working air, because with a horse with heave, inactivity could cause the part of the lung that is not filling with air to die, and eventually lead to death. You'll start to notice a "heave line" as your horse gets worse, like how I tried to show in the picture (her's was hard to see at the angle, so I drew it in)
IPB Image
This occurs as a result of the lower part of the lung dying.

So my main advice would be to observe you horse, talk to your vet, and trim her down a bit, because I knkow that helped my old lady. It may progress, it may not, just keep an eye on her. Lowering her bucket and adding more pasture time (possibly with a grazing muzzle or on a dry lot) will help too.

Good luck! smile.gif

#4 Robin_C

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 12:13 AM

You've gotten some great advice already about your horse's heaves. I'd like to add just a few more words as I, too, have an older, overweight gelding with heaves (COPD). There are many different triggering factors and if you can isolate what contributes to your horse's attacks, you will be better equipped to manage this chronic disease. For 9 months out of the year, my gelding is fine. His problem is not exacerbated by some of the more common triggering factors: 1) molds in hay or grass 2) environmental dust, pollens, air pollution, 3) allergies. Casper simply has problems handling our heat/humidity here in Florida, so summer brings on his worst symptoms with deep coughing, and difficult, labored breathing. I joined the COPD/heaves Yahoo group and got some excellent ideas there including adding MSM to his feed (many of the group members also recommend Spirulina, especially for "allergic"-type horses). Knock on wood, Casper has been symptom-free thus far this summer on the MSM alone, despite temperatures in the 90s with sweltering humidity. I do keep him outside on pasture for most of the day. He is stalled at night when it is cooler. He is overweight, but I have no dry lot, so it's either pasture or stall -- pasture and fat seeming preferable to being stalled and overheated. In the past, he has occasionally required an injection of dexamethasone to break up particularly bad attacks (works well and almost immediately) but use that only as a last resort. Prednisolone would be another steroid recommendation to discuss with your vet. I gave him a trial of Ventipulmin last year with absolutely no relief, though it does give some horses good relief. Unfortunately, it may take some trial and error to figure out just the right combination of treatments and management options for your horse.

The MSM is a simple and inexpensive first step that is worth the trial IMHO. You might also want to join the Yahoo COPD/heaves group for additional info/support.

Robin C
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(Opinion provided by me should be considered for discussion purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice. Please consult your veterinarian before making any changes in your horse's diet or health regimen.)

#5 Casnos Minis

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 07:22 AM

My rescue mare form CHMR has heaves. When she first came you could see her heave line reallly well, now it's hardly noticable. I notice if she's on grass she coughs more than in our dry lot. I have EquioPathics Asthma and allergy and I also have another liqiud from Dr. Benson's. I can't remember the name of it. When she first came I used both daily, now I only have to use the astma and allergy once in a while. Like yesturday she coughed alittle so I gave her some right in her feed. The people that gave her to CMHR said she didn't take her meds in her food, at first she didn't want to , but now no problems she loves it. Also the asthma and allergy is all natural, safe for brrodmares, etc. My vet checked it out for me and said it was a good choice. You can get it from Jeffers for around $15 a bottle.
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#6 Marty

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 12:04 PM

I bought a very old pony for a quarter named Lil Darlin some 20+ years ago and she had the heaves.

I used a liquid steroid (dexemethosone) and shot it in her feed

I removed all bedding from her stall, or if I used any, it was straw that I wet down with a hose

I also dampended her grain daily with water, and also her hay and kept a fan running in her stall

We absolutely did not use force exercise. She was a pasture ornament and the barn mascot

I kept her out of the barn as much as possible as she seemed to do much better not being subjected to being locked up in a stall; only for storm reasons was she put up.

If I had a heavy horse today, the first thing I would do would be to have her tested for allergies and all of the above what has already been mentioned and also I would buy stall mats for her stall.

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#7 MooreAcres

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 10:50 PM

Thank you all for your advice/experiences.

The more I read and the more I watch the mare, I wonder if she really does have heaves. Granted I've only had her for 2 days, but I haven't heard her cough, not once. I believe I said earlier that she is overweight, so I wonder if that could be playing into the rougher breathing. Right now she's getting 3 1/2 lbs of grass hay per day and a 1/2 cup of grain per day. I have no idea how much she was getting with her previous owner. They just said that she got beet pulp, a little grain, alfalfa, and grass hay. I lunged her, along with my gelding, for a short bit (not even 5 minutes) today just to see how she'd handle it. She seems to do fairly well, but she definately breaths harder when working. I saw what I thought my be a "heave line" this afternoon, but then I looked at my other horses and they appeared to have it too. The line only shows up sometimes and its normally during and right after they've been worked. I don't know much about heaves in general, so am just curious.

Thanks again, Erin
Erin Moore, Moore Acres (Located in the beautiful state of Oregon)

www.mooreacres.com (currently unavailable, but will get it back up and running soon)

Home to:

Sundance LB Rocket Racer (AMHR)
Sundance LB Rocket Ronnie (ASPC)
2007 dark bay tobiano stallion

Sundance LB She's A Dream (AMHR only)
1997 red based frame overo mare (in foal to Sundance LB Raven, due in April -- foaled a STUNNING black filly with a snip on May 8th, MooreAcres The Black Dahlia)

Sundance LB Verna Benna Blue (AMHR/ASPC)
2004 blue roan mare (in foal to Sundance LB Assured, due in April -- foaled a beautiful black filly with a blaze, partial blue eye, and 2 socks on April 11th, SMO Assured 2 B Blu)

Sundance LB Gems Ava (AMHR/ASPC)
2006 chestnut mare (in foal to Peaceful Valley Jumpin' Jack Splash -- foaled a handsome palomino colt with a blaze, possibly sabino on May 27th, MooreAcres Tequila Lime)

Sundance LB Melon Mojito (AMHR/ASPC)
2008 black mare (in foal Peaceful Valleys Jumpin' Jack Splash -- foaled a handsome palomino colt with a blaze and two blues, possible body white on June 12th, to be named)

DF Chip Ahoy
2001 AMHR silver bay pinto gelding :)

"Where some of the biggest gifts come in the smallest packages."

#8 Joyce

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 08:21 PM

I have one mare with heaves on occasions and certain times of the year. I have had excellent results from Ventapulin (I think that is the spelling without going to the barn to look). I have got it thru my Vet and also from Jeffers Supply. When giving her the meds, I also soak her grain and hay and in a few days she comes out of it.

I agree with Mary Lou.........this is a good thread as we can all learn what everyone uses and does.

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#9 MooreAcres

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 10:55 AM

This horse has not shown any signs of being real heave-y. She just acts like a horse whose overweight. I am thinking about breeding her next month and am curoious what your opinions are on that? Do you think she could handle it?
Erin Moore, Moore Acres (Located in the beautiful state of Oregon)

www.mooreacres.com (currently unavailable, but will get it back up and running soon)

Home to:

Sundance LB Rocket Racer (AMHR)
Sundance LB Rocket Ronnie (ASPC)
2007 dark bay tobiano stallion

Sundance LB She's A Dream (AMHR only)
1997 red based frame overo mare (in foal to Sundance LB Raven, due in April -- foaled a STUNNING black filly with a snip on May 8th, MooreAcres The Black Dahlia)

Sundance LB Verna Benna Blue (AMHR/ASPC)
2004 blue roan mare (in foal to Sundance LB Assured, due in April -- foaled a beautiful black filly with a blaze, partial blue eye, and 2 socks on April 11th, SMO Assured 2 B Blu)

Sundance LB Gems Ava (AMHR/ASPC)
2006 chestnut mare (in foal to Peaceful Valley Jumpin' Jack Splash -- foaled a handsome palomino colt with a blaze, possibly sabino on May 27th, MooreAcres Tequila Lime)

Sundance LB Melon Mojito (AMHR/ASPC)
2008 black mare (in foal Peaceful Valleys Jumpin' Jack Splash -- foaled a handsome palomino colt with a blaze and two blues, possible body white on June 12th, to be named)

DF Chip Ahoy
2001 AMHR silver bay pinto gelding :)

"Where some of the biggest gifts come in the smallest packages."

#10 Marty

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 10:22 AM

She might be a "roarer"

I had a TB that roared. Check it out

http://www.netpets.o...thspa/roar.html

Edited by Marty, 01 August 2006 - 10:25 AM.

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I'm no Angel but my child in heaven is. With his hand on my shoulder I can weather any storm.

Michael, My Archangel, My Teen Angel in Heaven
His life was brilliant, His love was pure, He saw an Angel, of that I'm sure...
September 1, 1987- June 10, 2006 Hopelessly devoted to you, then, now and forever
See you in my dreams my love

Welcome to my life grandaughter Lexis Clair Garrison I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!





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