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Seemingly recurring respiratory illness

Note: we’re going into the vet this afternoon to get to the bottom of this, just puzzling for now.

My dear ol’ grey mare (actually she’s just 7) seems to be developing a pattern of respiratory illness. I got her the May before last from a feedlot and she was pregnant with a nonviable fetus (unbeknownst to me) and had placentitis. She was treated with SMZs while pregnant and after she aborted the foal again, both long courses. It was obvious she’d been passed around and not cared for too well or treated very nicely. The following fall (October?) after I moved her to a new barn for training/boarding instead of my friends house with limited facilities, she comes up with pneumonia. I chocked that up to a poor immune system from everything she had been through. she recovered well with SMZs.

This fall she had an instance of choke, which I thought was reserved for old horses, but the vet thinks she bolts food. I definitely could have been more careful with my pellet soaking, but they were in water… she just bolts food and we need to be extra careful. The vet put on on SMZs for that since her lungs were a touch loud and just to be careful. This weekend she has a very mild cough, tiny bit of clear discharge from her nose. I put in a call to the vet to see her tomorrow, but then get a call from my barn owner saying her breathing is laborered and we need to get her in today. So today we’re bringing her in for some sort of tracheal THING to determine what bacteria is causing this.

So I’m just puzzling, waiting and worrying until then. I haven’t known horses that have had this type of issue, but maybe I just hadn’t noticed and it hadn’t yet happened to me. Puzzle with me or share how your similar story turned out. Tell me if there’s a glaring sign in my diagnosis case that explains it all. Let me know if you think she’s had too much SMZs in the last year and a half.

Other deets: she lives out all the time as were in the SE. has a shelter. Only gets hay and occasional alfalfa (SOAKED WELL SO SHE DOESNT ENDANGER HERSELF). I don’t ride enough, but we just do trails and the occasional low fences.

Lots of options of what that could be; a endoscopy and trans-tracheal wash will tell you more. She could have aspiration pneumonia from the choke, or a viral infection, or another variety of lingering pneumonia that was not cleared up by SMZs (trimethoprim-sulfa is broad spectrum but does have resistance, and doesn’t cover all bacteria). She could also have RAO (heaves). Best to get her to the vet and see what diagnostics say. Good luck!

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Got results from the trans tracheal yesterday. Yep, it’s asthma. Or RAO or heaves whatever you want to call it. Based on the time of year, I think it’s from mold on hay unfortunately.

Fortunatley I use Ivy as a low key trail horse, so i believe we’ll be able to continue that while treating as necessary and adjusting treatments going forward. I’ve read that Omega 3’s can help, so I think she’ll be going on that. Certainly can’t hurt.

OP-I HIGHLY recommend building a hay steamer for her. There are lots of plans on the internet, it’s pretty simple. I’ve been using mine for my RAO horse for a year now, he’s competing PSG/I1 and has been symptom free except for a bout in the spring. Please look into it, it could make a world of difference for her comfort level. Also, I recommend Respire by Horsetech. Great product, great company.

We have one horse who developed this last winter. He wastaken offof round bales and gets hay only on nibblenets. he got it again this winter but we caught the symptons right away. He is treated with albuteral and fluticisone. We just added a haygain steamer because we are paranoid. He easily does 4 miles of trot work and fox hunts. So it is about management. He is also nebulized once every two weeks just to get any gunk out.

I will have a hay steamer by next winter for sure! She’s improved a great deal after some rain and a warmup (there was a decent amount of dust because it was very cold and dry for a couple weeks) Thanks guys for your sharing your positive stories. She was great this week!

Also, 2Below- I got her smartpak’s omega 3 supplement but that one looks great! I think I will change after this bucket!

Definitely worth building a hay steamer. It made a world of difference for my mare that was diagnosed with RAO. We were able to get all of the parts at home depot for around $100. I tried all kinds of breathing supplements, but found that Triple Crown Ground Flax (formerly Triple Crown Omega Max) and MSM worked the best for her. Good luck!