I went out to feed the animals this morning and found Jazz standing with his back to me along the fence. He didn't move and certainly didn't show any interest in breakfast. Not eating is the most significant indication that something is seriously wrong with a horse, right behind bones poking through the skin and lots of blood. Jazz came when I called him but he was coughing, had lots of scummy junk on his nose and really didn't want to eat. I called the vet.
Dr. Ridlen couldn't get out here immediately but said he would be here as soon as possible, probably a couple of hours. Fortunately Jazz didn't appear to be in any pain. He looked like he felt like crap but we weren't talking colic which could have him dead before the vet could get here. Jazz has always lived with me, at least since Peggy bought him. I called Peggy and gave her the details and she headed out here.
I walked Jazz over to the barn. He walked easy but as we got farther and farther from his pasture he started getting more anxious. Just shows I should walk them all over the barn periodically. Meanwhile, Steele who was still in the pasture started screaming as his pasture-mate got farther and farther away. Jazz and I got to the main door of the barn and he was not at all interested in walking in. I'm sure he was remembering all the horrible things that had happened to him in the barn - vet visits with annual shots, floating teeth and sheaths cleaned. The normal annual routine but not what he wanted right now. Rather than pushing the issue I put him in the pen at the end of the barn. Actually better that way because I could see him from my desk in the studio.
Peggy arrived and we got lots of work done in the studio while we kept an eye on Jazz and waited for the vet. We got newly dyed silk hankies and sliver divided up and tagged, decided how we were going to package the newly dyed wool potholder loopers, got newly woven and knitted scarves tagged, etc.
After Dr. Ridlen listened to Jazz's heartbeat and his gut sounds, he decided it was a resolved choke. Choke in horses has nothing to do with breathing. It involves the gastric tube not the breathing tube so it's an inability to move foods down to the stomach. Things get packed in wrong and stop moving. Peggy and I talked it out and finally decided that Jazz must be about 20 years old. He's not as old as Eclipse, who is 28, but certainly qualifies as an old horse. And old horses get choke much more commonly than younger horses - wear and tear on the body takes it's toll. So Jazz got antibiotic and anti-inflammatory shots and went back to his pasture. Tonight's dinner was Equine Senior, a complete feed thats full of chopped up grains and hay, with a bit of beet pulp mixed in and water added to make a lovely cold soup. He didn't eat all of it so Steele got an extra big dinner but I'm sure Jazz feels better already and will feel even better tomorrow. He may continue to cough for the next several days but should be right at rain.