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.|