A bay horse with a star. Photo by Mathias Reding.……

A choking horse is a scary sight! You may have heard about someone else’s horse choking, but until you experience it firsthand it’s hard to truly understand what it’s like. Some horses will panic! Others will stay calm, but show clear discomfort. While the signs are usually quite similar, all horses behave differently in the moment.

If you suspect your horse is experiencing choke, then contact your veterinarian immediately. You should also remove all food and water. Stay calm! Your horse can still breathe, though you should not ignore this situation.

Signs of Choke

  1. Coughing
  2. Nasal discharge
  3. Food material coming out of mouth
  4. Acting colicky
  5. They may become very anxious
  6. Hypersalivating
  7. Trouble swallowing
  8. Acting lethargic or depressed
  9. Not eating or drinking
  10. Neck may be held outstretched and look tense
A closeup of a Hafligner. Photo by Raphael Andres.

It’s important to keep your horse calm. Many cases of choke resolve on their own. It’s a good idea to still call your veterinarian, especially if it has been longer than 30 minutes. They may need to tube your horse.

Keep in mind that choke is associated with aspiration pneumonia. Food matter and saliva may have entered the lungs accidentally. Your horse will need to be watched carefully over the next few days.