It was the darndest thing.
I was at a horse show in Venice, Florida, and I noticed that a big, sorrel
mare belonging to one of my competitors had an amusing look on her face.
Every 20 seconds or so, the mare caught her breath and made a funny, squeaky
sound, then stomped her foot.
She had hiccups!
My competitor laughed and said the symptom wasn’t uncommon for her mare.
“She gets them every now and then,” she said. “And she always
stomps her foot after each hiccup.”
I was flabbergasted. I didn’t know horses could have hiccups.
A few weeks later, I was standing in our barn, petting Willie, a big, 10-year-old,
bay gelding. Suddenly he started making a funny burping noise, which I realized
was preceded by a big gulp of air. How strange! Hiccups!
According to scientists, hiccups are sudden contractions of the diaphragm muscles
used for breathing in. Just after the muscles begin to move, the glottis shuts
off the windpipe, producing the characteristic “hic” sound.
Usually, the diaphragm pulls down when you inhale and pushes up when you exhale,
thereby pushing air out of the lungs. But if the diaphragm is irritated, it
pushes up in a jerky way that makes breath come out abnormally.
And that, my friends, is the life pattern of a hiccup.
Hiccup experts say you might get hiccups from eating too fast or too much,
or you could get hiccups from an irritation in your stomach or from being nervous
or excited. Horses seem to get hiccups for the same reasons.
If you have hiccups, you might drink water or hold your breath – or
there’s always the theory that having a friend scare you
will make them go away. If your horse gets hiccups, please don’t
try to scare him! Just wait patiently. Chances are, those pesky
hiccups will evaporate all by themselves in a matter of minutes.
Does your horse have a funny character trait? Does he stick his
tongue out constantly or shake his body with verve or have a crazy
nicker? Tell us about it! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your
funny horse stories.
Summer Best is the editor of ec magazine and the director
of marketing and communications for Seminole Feed in Ocala, Florida.
She enjoys riding and showing horses, working in her barn, diving
for Florida lobster, singing, laughing, and pretty much everything
fun and exciting… except for bowling. Visit her Web site