Tuesday 9 October 2018

Cisco's Carrot Privileges Have Been Revoked

I picked up a bag of carrots for the kids last week. Mostly because I went grocery shopping and realized that everything in my cart was either frozen or boxed. I figured I should get something fresh, not that I would be the one eating it.

Both kids had some carrots added to their food one-day last week, and then again yesterday. I watched Cisco eat from his dish, and was of amazed to see that he didn't pick out all the carrots first, but started on one side of his dish and systematically worked his way to the other side. I even took a picture and posted it to Instagram when he was almost finished.

Then he stopped eating. There was still a handful of beet pulp left in his dish, but no carrots. He wasn't licking his bowl and the floor clean. Hmmmmm.

I watched him closely. His neck kind of gave a big twitch, then he let out a big cough. Crap. He was choking on the damn carrot.

Kind of, maybe? That cough was the only one. There was no drool or snot coming out of his nostrils or mouth. But every few minutes, his neck gave this huge convulsion like he wanted to vomit. Which, of course, horses can't do. I heard some gurgly sounds seemingly from his neck area. He was quiet otherwise, with no attempts to eat, and not showing any signs of stress. 

I walked him back and forth down the barn a bit, cursing out loud at how expensive the vet bill was going to be (Sunday evening, long weekend). I didn't know what I would tell the vet though - I think my horse might be choking because it looks like he wants to puke?
I managed to get a video of the last puking convulsion I saw.

As I was walking Cisco, Phantom, who was eating her dinner in jail a stall, decided that she was done and wanted out. Now. I was in no mood to deal with her temper tantrum, so I found Cisco a stall with no food to stand in and took Phantom out. 

When I came back Cisco was pretty quiet in the stall, but he had a bit of sweat around the neck where his blanket was. Hard to say if it was because he was inside with a blanket on, if he was stressed because of choking, or stressed because he had been abandoned by Phantom. I took the blanket off just to be safe and tied him up in the aisle. I figured I might as well run a brush over him while I watched him.

And it seemed like nothing was wrong. There were no more convulsions. He was perky and enjoying being groomed. I gave him a handful of hay. He took it in his mouth and just held it there. My heart sunk and I started to think about which credit card I was going to use to pay the vet.  But then he started chewing, and continued to eat the rest of the handful I had. 

I brought his dish that had just a handful of beet pulp left in it. He licked it up and played with his dish, just like he normally does. Vet call averted! It seemed to have cleared.

Then the big dilemma - turn out. Do I turn him out into a different pen with no food? Or back to his regular pen, which has a netted bale in it? 

I opted for his regular turnout, and asked the barn owner to check on him in a couple of hours. I watched him for a bit when I turned him out, and he was eating and harassing his girls, so he wasn't feeling too sorry for himself. 

Hopefully I am able to just chalk this one up to a learning experience. I know that Cisco choked once before - as a 2 year old on a hay cube. He's had them since with no issues with his previous owner, and on the couple of times I've given him cubes I've added some water to them just to be safe.
This was the result of the last time he choked - he was sedated to be tubed, but apparently it wasn't enough. When the first squirt of water went in he went straight up in front and a hoof connected with my thigh. Then we remembered how much sedative it took to knock him down to be gelded as a yearling. (It was a lot)
I've seen choke 2 or 3 times, and in each case there was lots of coughing and snots (lovely green snots since hay cubes were involved). I've not seen the "vomiting" before, but I just googled and that apparently is a symptom of choke.

I'll probably be hard pressed to trust him with a carrot again. Unless it's gone through the food processor or been pureed like baby food. He'll have to make do with cookies for treats - not that I think he'll care that much.


  1. Hi. In Australia the recommendation is that carrots are cut into fingers lengthwise as a round of carrot is the perfect size and shape to choke a horse if it doesn't get properly chewed

  2. Stampede did this to me a few times in one week on both grain and carrots a couple months ago - nothing coming out of his nose just stopped eating and I could see he had a blockage along his neck and was upset. Usually massaging the neck where it's stuck helps. It's controversial since some say you can cause them to aspirate and get pneumonia but I will also put a hose in their mouth so they can get some water in there. I don't really try to spray it down their throat directly but get water in to help move the blockage along.
    I got his teeth done soon after since he was due for it and whether by luck or getting teeth done it hasn't happened again (knock on wood). Those ponies always keep us on our toes!