Choke in a horse is an obstruction, typically of feed material, in the esophagus, and can cause a horse significant distress. Therefore, it can be very stressful if your horse has choke and you’re waiting for the veterinarian to arrive. It is important to remember that choke in a horse is different from choking in humans. Choking in humans is a blockage in the trachea (windpipe), essentially obstructing breathing. In contrast, choke in a horse is a blockage in the esophagus, the passage to the stomach; therefore, the horse’s actual airway is not obstructed.
The first thing to do is keep your horse as calm as possible, whether that means leaving him alone in a stall or gently walking him; however always remember to keep your safety in mind first as some horses may become quite distressed. Remove all food and water from your horse’s stall. If possible, you can encourage him to stand with his head down, to decrease the chances of him aspirating anything into his lungs. Resist the urge to put anything in his throat, such as any substances or medications, as well as physical objects such as garden hoses, in an effort to flush out the obstruction. This will increase the risk of your horse aspirating material into his lungs, which could result in severe pneumonia.