How do you lessen the likelihood that your horse will experience a choke?

A choke is what happens when a horse eats too much too fast. It can be a very scary thing to witness. Often a horse will be coughing and gagging and have nasty stuff coming out of their nose. Sometimes they will just be making a whistling noise.

One of the very best ways that we can prevent a choke is to not feed a hungry horse grain. This seems counterintuitive, but what we mean by this is to let them fill up on hay for 20-30 minutes first. In that way they will not be “starving” and bolt their grain as fast as possible.

Another reason that horses choke is that they are in competition over food. Choke is prevalent, according to some veterinarians, in horses that are fed out of a mass trough. It is a wise idea to let each horse have their own bucket or bowl.

Horse can also be more prone to choke if they are dehydrated. Choking incidences increase when the weather is cold and the horses aren’t drinking as much. Please make sure that your horses all have access to minerals and water that is not frigid.

The older horses are also very susceptible to choke because they have lost much of their grinding surfaces. One way to solve this is to make them a slow feeder. (see the link for instructions)


Sometimes when a horse is choking, the person is able to clear the choke on their own, by massaging the lump that is found where the obstruction is until it goes down. Very often vet has to be called out to tube the horse and dislodge the mass.