Miniature Horse Talk Forums

Help Support Miniature Horse Talk Forums:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Active Member
Oct 11, 2011
Reaction score
There is a mare that I might be going to look at and she is in foal any day now but In the Winter he has heeves to alfha hay and no heeves to all grass hay but all we have is alfha patently her heeves are not bad but can she pass the heeves down to her foals(as I. Genetics) and should I just pitch fork her alfha hay will it not be has bad or worse??
I do not know if heaves is genetic, but it is an ongoing condition that is not cured, but dealt with. I have a horse right now that developed heaves, it is worse in the summer but eases somewhat in the winter, cooler air helps. It must be monitored every day and treated because of the cough and pheglm produced.

None of his get have appeared to have it....that said, he only developed it when he was 15 years old.
I do believe that in some cases it is hereditary -. not heaves as such but the tendency to develop heaves. Obviously in some cases a horse is subjected to terrible hay. Perhaps for years, and in the circumstances almost any horse would be likely to develop heaves. But--some horses develop a problem for no reason at all. I have a young gelding that has breathing issues . He has never had bad or dusty hay and yet he has heaves--his mother also had heaves and she certainly never had poor jay here. I believe that in their case it is a genetic weakness.
If the mare only exhibits the difficulty in breathing on alfalfa then I'm afraid you either need to find/provide a substitute for that or forget purchasing the mare. If hers is just an allergy reaction to this one thing at the moment, she may develop reactions to other things in the future, plus foaling a mare with any sort of breathing problem can put a great strain on the heart. Also, presuming that you will be overnighting the mare in a stall/barn on the run up to foaling and after at night for a few weeks/or in bad weather for the foal's benefit, what fibre are you going to be feeding the mare whilst she is stabled if you have nothing other than alfalfa to offer?

In my opinion, whether or not the heaves might be hereditary is not really the issue, but what you have to decide is whether or not you can provide the correct basic feed for this particular mare to keep her in good health.

Good luck with whatever you decide.
I don't believe heaves is hereditary, but have not done much research on this.

It really sounds like this mare is having an allergic reaction, and it is affects her breathing. Unless she shows signs of it at different times like the seasonal changes, after a good hard run or play with other horses, etc. than I would question if it is actually heaves. Has this mare been diagnosed by a vet?

Heaves usually get worse as they age. If taken care of properly they can live a relatively decent life. But you must know that they are best left outside, not in enclosed stalls. Their feed should be wet down. Try to keep them out of dusty areas. And since she has a reaction to alfalfa, it would be best if she is not kept in the same barn as the alfalfa hay. She would not be able to eat with your other horses either since you feed them alfalfa.

I have had a horse with heaves and it isn't fun when they are having a bad episode. The medicine can be really expensive also.

Then when it gets really bad you have to make the decision when you need to stop their suffering.

Good luck with your decision.

Latest posts