Thursday, March 18, 2010

Badger is it Heaves or Equine COPD?

I've had an extremely close relationship with this mule called Badger since 1998. We have grown together and been a part of each other's life.

Some days, I think Badger has been a more intimate part of my life than any human. He knows all of my secrets, my fears, my doubts, my hopes, my loves, and my joys.

About a month ago I noticed that I 'thought' Badger was breathing slightly higher than normal. When we did endurance together, his resting respirations were 9. After a 26 mile Limited Distance ride he vetted out with a respiration of 11.
I counted his respiration and it was slightly elevated.

Two weeks ago after our last ride ... in which I noticed that it seemed he got out of breath ... or was lazy [I didn't know] while walking up a hill, I mentioned to hubby that I thought something might be wrong with Badger. Hubby looked at Badger and shrugged, *Maybe he has a cold?*

[Follow your instincts folks!]

Two weeks ago our normal hay supply had run out and we'd bought some 'oat hay' round bales. Everyone seemed fine with it.
Yesterday after not being out with the mules for about a week because of my injury...I went up to where Badger was laying in the dirt.

I panicked. His respiration rate was so high that I could not count it! To me it screamed~~

Something in the Oat Hay and exercise set off something like an asthma attack.

This morning I called the Equine Vet Specialist in our area. At first the girl said March 25th. I said
I told her in a shakey voice that my mule's respirations were higher than I could count. Elevated heart I did NOT take his temp, clear eyes, slightly pale gums....
Long story short Dr. Clay Dean decided he would see him ASAP tomorrow and was re-arranging his schedule.

I moved Badger out of the pasture with the oat hay and made a make shift electric single fence in my yard.
Tonight he ate some of his soaked hay.
I sat on the ground near him until dark.

Yes, Badger and I talked, the way we always do. He seemed sad [silly me]. He rested his head on my knees and I stroked his face while listening to his labored breathing.

I'm guessing he may have Heaves which is now known as ROA...Recurrent Obstructive Airway...

There are things we can do to make him healthier. But he'll never do endurance again [fine by me]...
Anyway I am jumping the gun.
I am frightened for my best friend.

I'll keep you updated.


  1. Darn it. I will keep Badger and you in my thoughts until you find out what is wrong with him. Have a safe and informative trip to the vet tomorrow. Good luck with the outcome.... I'll be thinking about you! BTW Badger cleans up real well. He's quite a handsome guy !

  2. MJ~ I'll keep you posted.

    This morning he still is breathing hard but I think less hard than he was for the past few days.
    I removed him from the pasture and fed him hay I washed clean of dust. He is in the yard.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Don't they always like to find ways to worry you sicK!


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