Question: My horse wasn’t ridden for a month or more but I am back riding again. My horse seems fine in everyway else but on these first couple of rides she will cough just a few times and some stuff comes out of her nose when she coughs. This couple of coughs happens after being ridden for awhile. Is it just a cold or something worse?

Answer: It could just be a cold (yes horses get colds like people do). These colds are highly contagious so they infect other horses and that is how they get it too. They get a cough, runny nose, if their throat gets to sore, they may not eat well, high temperature, etc. Most vets will recommend antibiotics to prevent secondary infections. It runs its course in about ten days.

It may be the start of "Strangles (Distemper)", if the glands are starting to swell under the jaw and/or slightly behind and underneath the ears. Again highly Contagious and needs to be diagnosed by a Vet.

It may be the start of "Equine Influenza", much like the common cold except considered worse because of the violence of the coughing. With Influenza, usually the discharge from the nostrils is slight, colorless and watery. Highly Contagious again. Needs to be diagnosed by a Vet. Also the same as the Common Cold or Strangles (Distemper) stop working the horse immediately. With this or Strangles, often the horse must be rested for several weeks where with the common cold, approx. 2 to 3 weeks rest is enough.

I do not believe from your description that it is Pneumonia or Pleurisy. The horse would be having a harder time breathing by far and in more distress.

Or this may be all it is!!! Many horses, especially ones kept in a barn, when exercised, it seems to break up mucous built up in their airways from dust in an enclosed barn or even just dust from hay, bedding, etc. They then may cough a couple of times and the mucous will run out of their noses, often after exercise.

So best to just watch her closely for a few days.

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