Recurrence of heaves: the saga of Batt’s struggle to breathe

Michele said she’d fall off her chair if I blogged 3x this week. Here’s blog 2 of 3. I’ll be shocked if she comments on all 3!


This guy isn’t feeling too hot. 

I alluded to Batt’s struggle with mild heaves a little in the past. It’s never been completely under control, but it’s never been terrible. There are thing I could probably do better (such as, no round bales, but at the same time, the quality of his round bales are often better than my squares so… my round bale guy is fabulous about making sure I get non-dusty bales). In the past, I’ve supplemented MSM, which has helped, and turmeric, which has also helped, and also added in generic zyrtec. Flax helped A LOT but was a trigger for his impaction colic so the risks outweighed the benefits there. I’ve tried a slew of other supplements and some helped, some didn’t and many helped sort term (Heave Ho I’m looking at you).

With this past year’s crop of square bales basically being crap (thank you rain), I purchased a hay steamer, and that has helped a lot. But, like everything else, things help only so much…

The past couple of weeks, Batt has gotten more and more agitated as humidity has increased. I’ve increased grass thinking that if he were off hay, at least part time, that might help (no). Low humidity days, were better, high humidity days, not so great. My farrier came out about a week and a half ago and mentioned the obvious, humidity makes breathing hard. And with all the rain we’ve had over the last 2 years, there is so much more mold out there. Of course. ::head–>desk::


100% humidity at 6AM. It’s soup outside.

Around Wednesday/Thursday, the coughing increased to the point that I tossed a dex packet in his dinner grain to see if it would help. And by morning? Much better. So we reduced it down to a half a packet for a few days. Monday night? I completely forgot (bad mom). Yesterday morning? He had reached a point where I stood there at his stall at 6am considering an emergency vet call. He was hacking, gasping, and spewing food everywhere as he tried to breath and eat (world’s sloppiest eater anyway).

img_0381I tossed in some dex just to see how quickly it would work any headed inside. By the time we went to turn out, he was already looking better. Some coughing, but you could see the dex doing its work. Emergency vet call averted.

Calling the vet during business hours resulted in an Rx for prednisalone and Ventipulmin (we were able to bypass the visit for now as she had recently seen him). Other than crying over the cost (OMG a 100ml bottle of Ventipulmin directly from the vet, ::cries:: I don’t know if my vet writes Rx as legally, in PA, they are not required to), he is feeling SO MUCH BETTER as of this morning. He can breathe, he isn’t coughing, and seems comfortable.

img_0822Going forward, he’s on a decreasing dose of ventipulmin for the next few days though if it works, we’ll talk about keeping him on a tiny dose (NOOOO), seeing how he does without it, or saving it for bad attacks (hopefully). He’ll probably be on the prednisalone (thankfully not prednisone as I can handle this without fearing allergic reactions!) daily after a 2x loading dose last night for the foreseeable future before dropping down to every other day if possible. If that doesn’t work, we may consider a lower dose (right now, it’s 250mg/day). My wallet cries, but I’m hoping he can at least breathe.

As I now have an insane vet bill, if anyone want to buy a belt, let me know. Sample of some below but I have lots of other patterns as well. Will take pictures of other elastics later.


Some belts, lots of other possibilities exist! Fully adjustable. 

14 thoughts on “Recurrence of heaves: the saga of Batt’s struggle to breathe

  1. I hope you figure out a cocktail that works for Batt and also doesn’t depress your wallet. I love my belt so hope others buy some!! I love the one you did for me (The purple one above). I need to remember to pull it out for the show this weekend 🙂

    Remus even has some snots and snorts in the am here in Tennessee. I think the humidity and air quality is bad all over….

  2. Ventipulmin worked miracles for Bridget! I did start with two weeks of it, then weaned off until I was just giving a half dose prior to a ride, then when winter came she was fine and didn’t need it anymore. I ended up needing just the one bottle and have a second on hand just in case that I haven’t needed yet this year. I hope the same happens for you!

    • REALLY good to here! You’re actually the first person I’ve heard who has used it. We’re going to stay at the low dose for a few days and then drop back but… I’m going to be needing another bottle shortly. Ugh. At least he seems to like the taste and its all going down his throat.

    • I REALLY hope so! I’m going to buying a second bottle of the ventipulmin as the vet wants him on 10cc/day (5cc 2x/day) for the next several days so I’m pretty sure I’ll need the bottle by/before the end of the weekend. Just need to do the math to see when I need it. Ahh. $600 worth of medicine in total with the second bottle. ::cries::

    • Probably but as I don’t have electric in my barn yet, he’s going without. The goal is electric by the fall (I need to have the electric run for lights before winter for Subi), but I really can’t make it happen before then.

  3. I had to break down and start Phantom on Ventipulmin this spring. She’s just getting it when I ride at this point. I don’t really notice any issues at rest, she just has a poor exercise recovery rate without it.
    I had her on spirulina last summer, and it seemed to help, although she had a pretty easy summer due to our crappy air quality with forest fire smoke.

    • It looks like Batt will be on it another week (I’ll call for another bottle today—despite measuring in the syringe it doesn’t look like I have much left?!?! 🤦🏻‍♀️) but then hopefully with the prednisalone he’ll just need it before rides, if that.

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