View Full Version : My ponies body is shaking

Jan. 28, 2010, 10:03 AM
My pony Georgie who is as furry as a bear started shaking yesterday- I was in the barn doing chorses when I got home from work (about 6pm) when I could see Georgie shaking. I went over to him and felt him and his whole body was shaking.

He walks normal (maybe just slightly stiff in the front end- if I was going to pick him apart), has been eating, pooping, his stomache was making noises, the only thing is for whatever reason my horses haven't been drinking their water (cleaned and changed it 3 times now- they drank out of the same tank all winter, just stoped about 10 days ago).

SO I've been giving them water out of a water bucket every day to every couple days- that they all drink. They have had access to the big water tank as well (the same one they drank out of for the past few years- which nothing has changed with it, so why all of a sudden they stopped drinking- I have no idea).

I have no idea why he'd be shaking- and he was blanketed with a sheet, but actually once we took his sheet off last night- his shaking got better. Didn't fully stop but I could no longer see it and had to really pay attention when feeling him to feel it. I kept his blanket off him last night and put him in the stall so I could monitor his eating, drinking, and pooping. In the stall he was very bright last night- was moving around well (even crow hoping a bit), whinning, he did not want to be in the stall.

I kept him in the stall all night- this morning he ate his hay and pooped I think 3 times. He however, was still shaking- not bad, I couldn't see it but I could feel it (barley but it was there). The stall is in a 30X40 pole barn that 1 of the large doors is kept open so the horses can go in and out as they please (it is also where their water tank is located)... So the stall isn't much warmer than outside- it's only blocked better from the wind.

This morning wasn't windy out- so I turned him out in a small pasture with my 9 month old, thinking this way he could move around, has access to another water tank that they seem to drink out of fine, also has a 12X20 shelter that he won't have to fight to get to if he wants.

Does anyone have any ideas what this could be? Because they haven't been drinking much latley we plan on giving them all electrolytes. I also called the vet last night who said just to monitor him for a bit to see- that possibley his sheet was restricting his hair too much and not allowing it to keep him or that it could have been keeping dampness in. He however, was not wet nor was his sheet.

When I get home tonight- if he is still shaking, I'll call the vet but if there is any suggestions I could try/do/should know- I'd appreciate the help!

Thank You!

Jan. 28, 2010, 10:09 AM
I don't have any suggestions, just wanted to send some jingles your way, and I hope you get to the bottom of it quickly.

Well, my only suggestion might be to give him more hay, as the digestive process of eating it is supposed to help generate body heat, if he is shaking because he is cold that might help.

Jan. 28, 2010, 10:12 AM
Does your water trough have a heater in it? Troughs with a heating system can carry an electric current in the water. The horses get a shock when they try to drink. So they don't drink. If they do not drink REGULARLY and ENOUGH, they are at risk of dying, usually from impaction colic. Check your watering system for current. It is so slight that YOU can't feel it with your finger, or you are better grounded than the horse is. There are good instructions on this site about grounding the charge in the water.

Water is crutial for temperature regulation, both in keeping warm and keeping cool. It sounds to me like your horse was dehydrated, and cold. He needs water, and exercise to keep warm. OR a heavily insulated winter blanket if substantial exercise is not possible due to iced over paddocks or fields.

Good luck.

Jan. 28, 2010, 10:26 AM
Thank you both!

The trough does have a heater in it- we have actually tried 2 different heaters already as well as put our hands in it to feel if it was shocking us. However like NancyM said- maybe it is something we don't feel. I wouldn't think both heaters would have the same problem though. I will check out the grounding water info though to make sure!

And unfortunatley exercise isn't something I can offer him right now but if his shaking keeps up (not better by tonight) I will go pick him up a new & heavier winter blanket. He had 1 until we got our filly- at which time, we gave it to her. 1- because it never really fit him well, it's too narrow thru the shoulders for him 2- he is SO furry, we didn't think he'd need it where she was not nearly as furry so we switched her sheet onto him and his blanket onto her. But now with his shaking, I'll go get him a better fitting blanket.

Jan. 28, 2010, 10:30 AM
I would be fearful of severe dehydration in this case.

Jan. 28, 2010, 10:33 AM
ALL heaters in water troughs will put the current into the water if they are not double grounded. Not all the time, but irregularly it will be a problem. Ground your water tub. The single grounding from your barn is not enough, it requires DOUBLE grounding, that is, a wire running from the tub into a ground rod. All your water tubs with heaters in/on them need this. If your furry horse is getting adequate water, he will probably be OK with the fur he has, without the blanket, if he is in good condition (has a healthy amount of fat on him).

Once horses have been shocked from their water tub, they will be reluctant to try drinking out of it again, even after the tub has been grounded and is no longer carrying a current. Don't presume that the horses are drinking just because you have corrected the problem. Make SURE that they are. It can take some encouragement from you to get them to trust that the water will not shock them again.

Jan. 28, 2010, 10:34 AM
This may very well not be the case, but this time last year my pony started shaking and not wanting to drink her water or eat her grain. She would nibble on her hay. The vet came out and did tons of tests and didn't know what was wrong with her. We were feeding her mushy grain via a syringe to make sure she was getting food. Turns out she had ulcers and the vet didn't even think to scope her. My trainer suggested we give her ulcer guard or something similar. So We got her some Ulcer guard and almost immediately she was feeling better.

Jan. 28, 2010, 10:37 AM
How long does it take them to recover from severe dehydration? And would electorlytes tonight be enough to get him on the right track? We have been monitoring them for dehydration (checking gums to make sure wet, pinching skin, watching eyes, etc). Nothing seemed to stick out- not that I'm writing it off, I'm sure every horse/situation is different. Last night he drank probably 3/4 a bucket of water, I know I also gave them all water Tuesday and Sunday- before than too but can't say 100% when.

I guess I'm trying to figure out if I should have the vet come out today no matter what- or wait and see what his situation is like when I get home and then either...
1- if his shaking is fairly noticable/severe, I will obvioulsy have vet out.
2- if his shaking is not that bad (not noticable and if I can barley feel it), give him electrolytes and a friend of mine suggested gatorade?? Then give that time to kick in before calling vet.

Thanks for the help!

Jan. 28, 2010, 11:02 AM
this exact same thing happened at our farm to one of the horses thats automatic water had broken. Unfortunately the BO and guy that works there hadnt checked it in a probably 36 hours and the horse was so dehydrated. he was shaking quite a bit and very stiff. i would definitely get your water checked asap.

Jan. 28, 2010, 11:08 AM
Have you taken his tempature? Maybes he's trying to fight off a low grade infection somewhere

Jan. 28, 2010, 11:12 AM
Yes we checked temp last night- it was under 100.

Jan. 28, 2010, 11:14 AM
My first thought is laminitis. If it is a pony. I would take his temp see what internal temp is. Bring a thermos of hot water out and give him a hot mash. I soak beet pulp and oats and some complete feed for mine. Take him for a walk see how he is moving. If it is pain you could try bute. Make sure his blanket is nice and dry- try adding some fleece if he is still cold.

Jan. 28, 2010, 01:23 PM
In regards to the water heater shocking the horse, I only plug my heaters in at night when the horses are not in the pastures to keep ice from forming. I unplug them when the horses are out. This has kept the water from freezing even when it was below freezing for about 2 weeks in a row. However, I live just north of Atlanta Georgia so this might not work if you are way up north where it stays really cold during the day.

Jan. 28, 2010, 01:31 PM
I would get the vet out ASAP. If they aren't drinking from their tank, and you are only providing water every other day (Sunday & Tuesday???)--that is NOT enough water intake, especially in cold weather.

Jan. 28, 2010, 04:12 PM
I would have called the vet already, rather than waste time on a BB.

Jan. 28, 2010, 04:19 PM
I would have called the vet already, rather than waste time on a BB.


Hope your pony is okay.

Jan. 28, 2010, 07:05 PM
I would not be surprised if it was the sheet.

Unless you are going to watch them like hawks and change blankets every 10 degrees, I don't recommend blanketeting a horse at all. They are better off growing their own hair because they can regulate their own temperatures.

Horses with good winter coats can "puff" up their coat to trap air against their skins, which insulates them.

If you put a thin little sheet over that hair, they can't fluff their hair up to trap warm air under their coat, but the sheet isn't warm enough either.

The only horse at my house with a blanket is a breed show horse who has to have a freaking wardrobe of clothes. His coat is really more trouble than it's worth. I'm lucky my in-laws (retired, live down the road) will change his jammies during the day while I'm at work.

Jan. 28, 2010, 09:48 PM
Most likely the blanket was the culprit here since he stopped shaking once it was off. Blankets mat down the hair and interfere with the hairs lofting action of the coat which is what keeps them warm.

How old is your pony? Horses and ponies that have Cushing's disease are not able to regulate their body temperature and frequently need help in that regard.

If they're not drinking adequately I would step up giving them warm water every single day at mealtime and adding something like Tractgard to their feed until this cold weather breaks. The Tractguard will encourage them to drink and keep their stool soft so it doesn't become impacted. It is so much easier to prevent impaction colic than it is to treat it--especially since it's so cold in the barn this time of year. ;)

Jan. 28, 2010, 09:53 PM
well, I am not trying in any way to sluff off whether this pony has a health issue. I certainly agree on all counts regarding vet the pony, check the tank, ditch the thin sheet, blah, blah...

But did you know this little factoid. Horses can use the shivering muscle to create warmth. I was suprised when I read this but I too have walked in on an otherwise perfectly sound horse shaking all over. They get a little chilled so they twitch their fly-get-off-me large muscle masses to warm themselves up.

I'm not sure I believe this whole heartedly but the dilemma begs some clarification. Was the pony shaking for hours on end or just for brief periods when the temps were down?

Jan. 29, 2010, 08:29 AM
A virus passed through NJ this fall, horses were shivering for no reason, just picking at food, but good gut noises, and VERY lethargic. We supported my TB with all the soupy mashes he would eat for two days, and then it took nearly 3 weeks for him to really feel better.

But we ruled out strangles, laminitis, colic, etc before all this and had the vet out ASAP.

Jan. 29, 2010, 09:27 AM
Under 100 for a temperature would be pretty abnormal for mine, all of whom are in the 100.5-100.8 range as their normal baseline.

Maybe the critter is just cold--does he feel toasty warm under the blanket? Are his ears warm?

Jan. 29, 2010, 12:19 PM
Good news- when I got home last night, his shaking was completley gone and still this morning was gone! I do appreciate all your suggestions and will continue to monitor him closely.
As of now, it seems to be that he was just cold. I believe his sheet may have fit him a bit too snug, which caused his fur to mat down and not really do it's job. Wierd I know- but with the sheet off (even though it was 14 below last night) he has not been shaking, he's eating, drinking, and acting normal.
Last night and this morning we gave all the horses a oat/feed & electorlyte mix as well incase they are all sufferng from some dehydration. Continuing to water via bucket until we get the tank issue figured out.
Thanks again!

Jan. 29, 2010, 03:25 PM
At extremely cold temperatures you're better off with something WARM (not a sheet) or naked. (if you're a horse, that is)

A good test is to run your hand up alongside their chest or girth area with their clothes on--if they're warm under there, they're warm.

Jan. 29, 2010, 03:45 PM
Good to hear he's doing better. Just a thought, I heard not to give electrolytes to a horse who is already dehydrated. They don't need more salt, they need more water. I understand you are trying to get them to drink more, but perhaps just give them lots of water in a mash right now.

Jan. 29, 2010, 04:01 PM
A sheet is great for rain to keep them dry. I do use one if it's 40 to 50 degrees and raining. It does nothing for warmth, just mats down their hair. Just like the hair on your arms will lift when it's really cold (although I'm fairly sure you don't have enough hair on your arms to warm you) a horses hair will loft to provide more insulation. Nature's way. Putting a sheet on might make you feel better, but the horse will actually be colder!

My rule (in Kentucky, for my thin skinned TBs) is if it's below 40 for the high, they get a mid-weight blanket. I add to that if it gets a lot colder with liners or heavier blankets. If I don't, they shiver, which to me, means they are cold.

Jan. 30, 2010, 01:33 PM
I have a pony that could probably live on the tundra with the coat he has. The one time I've seen him shaking from the cold was when I stupidly put a sheet on him. The sheet pressed his coat down so there was no loft to hold air and heat. He is the one of my 4 that does not get blanketed. I use the ear check to see if they're warm. I hold their ear in my hand for a few seconds. If it is warm, they're fine. If it's cold, they need some help. Extra hay goes a very long way to help horses that are cold; can even stop shivering horses from shivering.

About the water tub. My tub was apparently shocking my horses a couple of years ago. I was never able to feel the shock, but they were. Could be the rubber soled boots we wear. Even after I got it fixed, they wouldn't drink from it. I had to switch it out with another tub for a time. Eventually I was able to move the tub with the heater back, but not for quite a while.


Jan. 30, 2010, 09:15 PM
Make sure he is getting as much hay as he can eat, as well as lots of clean, fresh water. Horses can generate a lot of heat from digesting hay.

Jan. 31, 2010, 10:25 AM

From an endurance rider (me) never give a dehydrated horse e'lytes. It would be like you being dehydrated and eating salt. It will dry you out more, which is not good.

As I have posted before you should know a few things that are easy to do for your horses to assess how they are doing. That way if and when a vet comes you will know all these to tell the vet. Also when a horse is not sick you will have baselines and will know if the horse is not right or not.

Take pulse
Listen to gut sounds on both sides
How does the horse act: quiet or perky or concerned or what?
Do a pinch test on the neck to see if the horse is dehydrated or well hydrated.
Push on the gums to see how long it takes for them to go pink again.
Observe if the horse is edpp. (eating, drinking, peeing and pooping)
How much water (count swallows)
What does the pee look like
What does the poo look like
Lift the tail is it loose or tight?
Count the respirations of the horse for a minute, how many times it breaths
Are the eyes bright and alert or dull
Finally, yes there is a finally, take the temp of the horse.

All these are easy to do. Keep records either written or by memory. Then when one or two of these are not right, you will know something is not right with the horse.

Mine were shivering over the past couple days. They shiver to keep warm.

My filly this morning is very quiet and she looks in her eyes to be very sleepy. I put her in the stall to feed, she has a run. Will check on her after she has a nap, and see how much water she has drank from the bucket (I have tank heater float in the pasture), see what poo she has, and check her over all condition again with regards to the above. Anything not right I will go ahead and get a temp on her. Told my husband she is either really tired from the hard weather we had, or she is sick.

But because I know her really well, I also use the above things, I already have a baseline so I can take her temp, pulse, respiration, etc and know if she is sick or just really sleepy.

I hope your pony gets better. If not, don't even hesitate to call the vet right away regardless of the time or weather. The vet can show you how to do the above things if you don't know. That way next time something comes up you will be able to give the vet a report over the phone or in person these stats on your pony(s).

Good luck

Feb. 9, 2010, 09:11 AM
Hey everyone- just an update: Georgie (my pony who was shaking) has been doing great- no signs of the shaking reappearing! I check him multiple times a day now, just to make sure. I would never disregard a possible more serious threat however, ever since the blanket was removed- his shaking stopped almost instantly! I have kept the sheet off of him- luckily it hasn't been too cold (only below zero at night a couple times).
As for the horses drinking- we moved the water bin and for whatever reason- that seemed to help, they started drinking instantly. We did give them a feed mix as well- so maybe that helped. But they have been drinking ever since!
All is well! Thank you all for your replies & help!

Risk-Averse Rider
Feb. 9, 2010, 10:38 AM
luckily it hasn't been too cold (only below zero at night a couple times).

ROFLMAO in sunny Arizona at the thought of "only below zero at night a couple times" being considered as not too cold.

Anyway... I'm really glad your pony's feeling better!

Feb. 9, 2010, 10:50 AM
I'm glad your pony is doing better. I do want to add that when my guy stopped drinking one summer I was told absolutely don't give any salt or electrolytes, but they suggested adding yummy flavoring to the water. I added apple juice to one bucket and had another bucket of plain water available as well. They also suggested a little jello mix, gatorade, etc. as alternatives to apple juice to make him want to drink water. It worked pretty well, though we never could figure out why he randomly stopped.

Feb. 23, 2010, 03:43 PM
I did try the gatorade- he was not having that at all. But I do know it has worked for a friend of mine, so I wouldn't discourage anyone from trying it!