Symptoms include chronic choke and swelling/deformation of the area where the esophagus is on the neck. Loss of weight (because of the swallowing complications) Some horses have nasal discharge from the backup of feed. (See photo).
This is a lot more than just a choking disorder, it's actually on the cellular level of the esophageal structure. The malformation results in impaired function of the esophagus which then results in choke and debris collecting in the esophagus. Some horses have mild cases and can be managed with moist food, frequent small mash meals, elevated eating and lifestyle adjustments. Decreased exercise can also help. This disorder is degenerative and develops as the horse ages so there is not cure, just treatment. Some have sever enough deterioration that they have to be put to sleep so evaluation of your horses situation and quality of life is very important.
There is some belief that because in Friesians the megaesophagus is related to abnormal collagen that it could be hereditary, there are no genetic tests in place to prove or disprove this but it's something that should be addressed. So if you have a horse with Megaesophagus and want to share their pedigree that would be appreciated. The more information we have the better chance we have at helping our horses. Fenway Foundation is trying to research Megaesophagus and it's link to the collagen disorder, they even believe it can be linked with CPL and Aortic Rupture. They are not disclosing blood lines, but if you would like to share that information either privately with me or publicly on the blog I'm happy to share whatever information I can.
Here is a postmortem of a torn esophagus.
This is a video of Freerk, a Friesian with Megaesophagus. The information in the video was provided by the owner, Thank you. It is to help other owners with similar situations, however your veterinarian needs to be consulted for your specific case. If you have any information to share about your success or struggles please share that with us so that we can help more people through this situation
VIDEO - Freerk
Research Gate A
Slide show with some information, independent source
Gay recently had a 16yo gelding diagnosed with ME- here is a helpful status update from her Facebook post
Status update- 11mo since diagnosis. What has worked/made him feel the best - short/medium grass in the field. He ❤️It and seems very happy/normal with a field of grass to eat. Long not mowed grass, eating dry hay (too much too quick) or (too much too quick) soaked(watery soup) triple crown senior all have the same affect- he will stand, not want to move, waits until it passes, if it doesn’t pass in under 5 min he will also put his nose to the ground and back up, flemen intermittently . He does not like you touching the underside of his neck nor making him move during this -hoofs are glued to ground. He lost some weight but look in good flesh still. Now that we are going into winter, he is eating more hay from his 1” hay nets/bags inside/outside I am starting to see the signs above again ☹️ . It is amazing how much hay this horse can empty from 1” hole hay net 😏. Last week for the first time I saw him slam his hay net in anger after it looked like he ate too much and he was standing there waiting for it to pass, feel better. I wish there was grass for him to eat year round. He is boarded so no option for wet hay. IMO wet hay would be hard to get out of a 1” hay net and I am sure he would eat too much too soon if free choice . I give him 90% standlee Timothy, some soft alfalfa mixed in, recently adding small amount of triple crown alfalfa-lox. In his triple crown soup he gets 3/4 cup senior and 3/4 cup complete soaked plus (all powder) supplements, cosequin, slippery elm, Smartpak digest ultra , u guard 7. No dry pellets or dry treats, no apples, no carrots etc- cannot beat these even if chopped up