The Plan

So when Dutch was diagnosed with Severe Equine Asthma I went into a mini research spiral.  The American Association of Equine Practitioners defines the problem as:

Summer pasture-associated severe equine asthma is manifested as difficulty breathing due to bronchospasm, hypersecretion and airflow obstruction after or during exposure to pasture during late spring to mid fall. Affected horses may have signs ranging from exercise intolerance and coughing to labored breathing and increased expiratory effort, as well as wheezing, and eventually weight loss. The difficulty breathing (obstruction to airflow) is a result of the thickening of the airway wall, contraction of the bronchial muscles and excessive mucus secretion plugging the airways.

What does this really mean?  So according the research I have done this is a less common form of asthma primarily impacting horses in the southeast.  The primary triggers are:
  • temperatures over 86 degrees with a dew point over 63 degrees
  • spending more than 12 hours on pasture daily for the majority of the year
  • exposure to tall grasses (specially warm season grasses)
  • exposure to mold
  • exposure to specific allergens
It was also explained that this form of asthma often fails to respond to treatment until the trigger is removed.  This explains his lack of progress on traditional brachial dilators.  Most treatment plans include reduced pasture time, stabling changes, dietary changes, medication, and supplementation in addition to acute treatment for clinical symptoms.

Google Image - This is the type of inhaler we are using.

What does this mean for Dutch? Well, we bought and designed this property for Dutch to go out and graze as much as possible because that is when he hold his weight best, so this is a bit of a curve ball.  His treatment and management are also going to have to be fluid. The will need to change as his clinical symptoms change and not according to traditional horse keeping. 

So what is our current plan?
  1. Mow the pastures.  Like all of them. Maybe shorter than traditional guidelines. This probably means rotating the horses around more frequently.
  2. Longer time spent inside in Summer, especially days that are humid.  Right now he comes in at 6:30 AM and goes out around 8:30 PM.  Since our horse stalls connect to the dry lot, we have been locking him in and leaving Uno's stall open so he can choose and move more.
  3. FANS - he will probably need his fans for circulation for a larger part of the year.
  4. Changed bedding.  The whole barn is going to have to move to a dust free flaked shaving.
  5. Hay - right now the vet has us soaking his hay bags.  We are also going to switch from a oat, orchard, and native grass blend to some imported timothy.  This also means we will have to rethink our winter hay plan - we will probably never be able to feed the horses round bales again.
  6. Rent our local vet's nebulizer to get him through any clinical attacks.
  7. Supplements, in addition to Flaxseed Oil, we are looking into researched based supplements.  The kicker is they are not cheap, the vet preferred one is $300+ for 90 days.  He is also back on his zyrtec.
  8. In the fall once his system settles down we can do a Transdermal Allergy test - the results will either further change his diet and environment, or be used to create allergy serum shots for him for next summer.
Finally,  I am having to create a savings plan just for him. This is something I should have done a while ago, but with this summer's $4k worth of vet bills, I cannot just rely on my care credit account and deferred payments.  I am not sure how this will change Uno and I's goals and plans for next year, but it does mean the end of show season for us this year. 

All in all, This has been very overwhelming and hard, but thankfully this is all stuff we can do.


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