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Close call for Kiwi thoroughbred Shaun

August 12, 2011

Rescued Kiwi thoroughbred Shaun has survived a close call with a bout of choke at meal time.

Deb with Shaun before his 'episode'.
Owner Deb Johnson, of Kansas, said Shaun - who raced under the name Cusack and was rescued from Washington kill pens thanks to the generosity of Horsetalk readers - got into trouble eating his meal last night.

"He was eating dinner as usual, but suddenly hesitated and then just froze," she explains.

"He began to swallow and swallow and then I knew, this was choke!

"I ran down to the house and called the vet, who suggested massage to see if I could break up the food lodged in his throat.

"My daughter, Amanda, ran back up the hill and, by then, Shaun was coughing and large amounts of liquid discharge were shooting out of his mouth and nose.

"I had her run back down to call the vet to come out, as I watched this big, beautiful horse decline.

"The sweat dripped from him, his eyes glazed over and his neck began to spasm. It seemed like forever before the vet arrived.

"The vet gave him a sedative, and then began to insert a tube up his nose. The sedative was not working and Shaun fought to keep us from helping him. The vet had one ear and the tube, and I had the other ear when the vet ordered my daughter over to hold the tube while we tried to get Shaun's head down below his withers."

Shaun finally relented and his head dropped.

"He let us tube him and pump about three gallons of water into his tummy. When the tube ran clear, and Shaun was quiet, we knew he was OK.

"He's been doing that swallow thing since he came here, and I'm thinking he's probably had small bouts of this at every meal, and I just didn't see it.

"I've asked vets about it, but they didn't connect it either. This morning, everyone got a green slurry, water-soaked breakfast. I don't think I'll ever feed dry food again to any of my horses.

"I'm pretty sure this is how this horse ended up in a kill pen. Choke is a bad thing, and if he has scar tissue from many bouts of it, it makes him a hard keeper, and more trouble than most folks want to take with a horse.

"He may not even be able to eat hay this winter. He may need the chopped up, soaked hay pellets. How to keep him from eating hay? I have no idea. Right now, he's OK.

"The vet just stopped by to check on him, and we've decided to put him on antibiotics in case he aspirated any food. Horses can die from secondary lung infections after choking."

"Please send your healing thoughts to this big guy," she said.



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