Sunday, September 16, 2012

Health Report: Allergies

This was not a good weekend for allergies even though the weather was gorgeous, the humidity low, and the temperature danced around 75 degrees.  I went out to trim Harley's feet on Saturday.  He coughed several times in the aisle.  He has been doing great with very minimal symptoms, so this took my notice.  I put him on the longe line after his trim and he moved out happily.  He coughed a couple times and then stop completely.  Exercise seems to help him clear out the airways.

Today I went back to see him and the red flag was immediately raised.  He was waiting for me at the gate and coughed a few times before I even put his halter on.  I walked him to the barn and he proceeded to cough in the cross ties.  Rather than groom him and stir up more dust, I just cleaned his feet, threw on his tack and took him to the small riding ring.  We walked for a few minutes and then I asked him to trot.  He moved off readily and assumed a pleasant stretch in his neck and back.  I got him moving in both directions, expecting him to do a couple big coughs and then be fine.  The big cough never came, so I moved him up to canter.  He cantered almost as soon as the idea entered my mind and I started to think that he was going to be fine.  It was not until we had made a few circuits in both directions that he finally let out a couple productive sounding coughs.  I patted his neck and made some soothing sounds.  Unfortunately, his coughs did not subside this time.  He would be fine for a couple minutes and then start up again.  After ten minutes, I decided to call it quits.

What makes this even more heart-wrenching is that I know my horse was not feeling his best, but he wanted to keep going with our ride.  As soon as a coughing fit stopped, he would surge forward in trot.  He did not want to let me down.  I did my best to let him know that he was not letting me down and that he is a wonderful horse and a sweetheart.  He still got his carrots, which he was happy to eat.  That was a good sign that he was "okay".

Allergies are an immune response that amplifies.  Saturday was not particularly bad by itself, but Sunday was definitely worse.  I realized that I was probably going to have to give him steroids to break the cycle.  I do not know what exactly set him off.  That is one thing that can make allergies such a frustrating condition to manage.  I checked the weather channel website and it said that weed pollen was high, but it has been high for most of August, so I am not sure if that is the trigger.  I do not like to give him steroids, but getting the inflammation under control is necessary.  We had a really good summer and despite the humidity, he only coughed a few times a visit.  I did not have to cut any of our rides short.  But today?  He has not coughed that badly since February, when he was first tested for allergies.

I called the vet and she gave me the green light.  I watched him eating his hay about twenty minutes later and he did not cough even once.  This makes me feel much better.  I hope tomorrow brings more of the same.

No matter what, you are a good, good boy.


  1. I hope his allergies settle down soon. Poor baby.

  2. Poor Harley. We have a horse (Nate) with asthma and allergies and it's heartbreaking to hear them coughing. It seems different seasons and changes of weather affect the allergies of some and not others. I hope he's feeling better soon and the medicine does it's job.

  3. Dang it Harley! I sure hope you will be ale to keep it somewhat under control, It must be terrible to hear him cough like that. I suppose it's good that you know it's allergies, but the unpredictable part has got to be frustrating. I am glad he gets some relief from the medicine. Does he act differently after you give him the medicine? I hate side effects.

    1. No side effects that I have noticed, but steroids are definitely not to be taken lightly.

  4. How frustrating, just when you were beginning to think you had his allergies under control. Hope he gets back to normal asap

  5. Poor guy ... I am sending healing thoughts his way. :0)


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