When Is A Cough Just A Cough?

Almost everyone knows that one horse who coughs when his rider first gets on. His cough may sound like he’s clearing his lungs or the horse may stop moving, throw his head down and cough from deep in his lungs. Most of these horses then go right back to work, happy to do their job, with no more coughing episodes.

A horse who coughs a few times at the beginning of a ride may be clearing mucus from behind his larynx. Some horses create more mucus than others, so a cough for them is normal. If the horse has no other trouble breathing and isn’t ill, his coughing may be a natural reaction to beginning work, when he breathes deeper.

A horse coughs when his esophagus is irritated by something, whether that’s dust, pollen or cold air. The horse rapidly expels air in an effort to remove irritants from the respiratory tract; this is the cough that is heard.

Prolonged coughing or coughs that become more frequent, a call to the veterinarian is warranted.

Read more at EQUUS magazine.

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