Horses Can’t Vomit, Just Ask Drew

Sometimes being the guardian of a companion animal is scary as heck. One minute you’re admiring how healthy your animal is and the next minute you’re hoping they aren’t dying.

How healthy this horse looks! No more ribs sticking out.

Right after I took this picture, something startled him or he took too big of a mouthful and he started coughing. That got me concerned. I tried to get him to drink some water, which was hard because the hose was behind some stuff. I mentally berated myself for feeding him where there was no water available and for not wetting his food enough.

Breathe and enjoy the sunset reflected on the Tahoe on our way home.

Then his food started coming out of his nose. I was trying to figure out what it was he had, and all I could say was he was SICK! I texted Tarrin and asked if it could be choke, once I remembered the name of it, and she said to get him to the vet.

I called the Texas Equine vets, thrilled they have emergency service. Lee got me there really fast. I’m so grateful for his support and patience after I was crying and worried. But we got Drew there in time!

Thanks, Mom and Lee. The wet area is from his ultrasound.

The vets and assistant were great. So was Drew. He walked into the treatment room like he always does it. He stood quietly for all the treatments, which looked pretty icky. He was sedated, of course, which relaxed him.

See, I’m relaxed.

Lee had never seen some of the procedures, so he got quite an education. When they put the twitch on Drew’s nose he was surprised! Drew was fine with it. He was very good when they ultrasounded his lungs. He didn’t seem to have aspirated much, if any, good. That’s good, since pneumonia is a common consequence of choke.

Before any gross stuff came out.

And the procedure for clearing the blockage was fascinating but messy. They pumped water up a tube, which came out along with stuck food. The good news is that I got him there quickly, so the stuff was fresh.

Going in.

It seemed to take forever to get the blockage cleared. The tube went farther and farther down. Horses have very long esophaguses. Drew was a real trooper.

After they were sure he was clear, they put in some oil to test that things are going through. We decided to leave him there overnight in case he colics, which is another possible consequence of choke. I sure wish horses could barf. That would have solved the problem.

More sunset to recover with.

I was so worried. Drew looked miserable with all that stuff coming out of him. At least I figured out what it was and that it was serious. The vets said sometimes people wait a long time before bringing the horse in, which can be bad. I’m sure grateful for the kind and competent staff at the facility. I love this little guy so much and just want him healthy and happy.

Kathleen was telling me that when Mabel choked last year, it was on similar food. And Tarrin said she’s had horses get into cattle cubes recently. Luckily they cleared theirs. I guess this isn’t as uncommon as I thought. But wow, there went what had been a great day so far!

Lee and I enjoyed our sunset coming home, though. And I’m feeling better after the support of my horsey friends and neighbors. Y’all rock.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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