The significant concern for many horse owners is the presence of chronic coughing in horses, which is commonly referred to as “hay allergy” or “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)”.
Once a horse develops such sensitive airways, it can become quite challenging for the owner to manage its housing and feeding effectively. However, it’s essential to note that not every cough necessarily signals a severe issue.
Even a horse can experience choking when consuming mineral feed too eagerly.If you have a horse that frequently experiences choking, you should consider sprinkling the concentrate over the hay or placing two to three large stones in the feed trough to encourage the horse to eat more slowly. This way, the horse is less likely to ingest its food incorrectly.
More commonly, you’ll notice horses coughing during riding lessons. This coughing occurs intermittently, irrespective of how dusty the riding arena may be on a given day. Typically, it’s a single cough or a brief bout of coughing that occurs only when starting to trot for the first time.
The horse proceeds through the remainder of the riding lesson without any further coughing, maintaining a normal breathing rate. Performing a bronchoscopy in this case is not deemed necessary. Frequently, this cough symptomatology is attributed to a blocked diaphragm. When the horse begins to trot for the first time after warming up, it takes a deep breath.
However, if the diaphragm is blocked, abdominal breathing cannot be as deep as it should be. Inhalation is prematurely halted, triggering a coughing reflex.
Many of us who are less athletic may relate to this sensation when they suddenly need to run, such as when a horse escapes through the fence.