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Live2Jump
Nov. 27, 2012, 12:53 PM
Saturday while we were in the aisle way with another horse, I heard a noise from my 24yr old TB's stall. I wasn't able to see what happened, but the gal that was with me said he fell down. He was in the doorway between his stall and paddock, so I thought maybe he had been scratching on the doorframe as he does sometimes and slipped on the stallmat. It was a bit wet, so that seemed possible. He could have been napping, too. Thats a common place for him to stand when he sleeps. He seemed perfectly fine afterwards. Then on Monday (yesterday) I was out cleaning his pasture. He was standing in a sunbeam on a bit of a hill (facing downhill), napping. I heard him move suddenly, turned around and his body was almost to the ground (still upright, with his legs all spread out, trying to get back up). He wobbled for a bit then managed to lift his body back up again. It was really weird and a bit scary. He went immediately back to his nap, seemed unphased and still happy to be lazily enjoying the sun. My only thought is that maybe the normal leg 'locking' while sleeping doesn't work sometimes now? Is this common in older horses? Any other ideas? How worried should I be? He seems in great shape otherwise, a little stiff undersaddle when he starts out sometimes, but he has been in light work on soft ground still and seems happy. No other health issues that I know about. I've had him for more than 17yrs, this is definitely a new thing.

alto
Nov. 27, 2012, 12:59 PM
You do NOT want to ride this horse again without a vet check - it is scary enough when a horse falls with control of it's limbs, a horse falling with zero limb control (& zero warning) is very bad :no:

D Taylor
Nov. 27, 2012, 01:12 PM
Yup, get the vet involved and stay off him.

Live2Jump
Nov. 27, 2012, 01:18 PM
Sure hope this isn't the beginning of something really bad. This guy has been with me so long, he's such a good guy. Will call the vet after I go check on him again. Can't stop crying. :cry: Has anyone seen anything like this?

D Taylor
Nov. 27, 2012, 01:45 PM
Sorry it is happening. Yes I have seen it.

Once when I was a kid (years and years ago), a friends horse was snoozing on a hot summer afternoon. Somebody mentioned how happily resting the old horse was when the legs just sort of went limp. Tho he woke up before he actually fell over and caught himself. It was kinda alarming tho.

Do not recall the diagnosis....but I do recall the outcome. The horses issue was limited to when asleep and not during activity. So life continued for he and the rider/owner for many years pretty much as normal.

So while I am very sorry to hear this is happening to you and your horse I think it best to not assume anything. Stay safe and be careful and get a diagnosis. You really can not move forward until you do know what is going on.

Live2Jump
Nov. 27, 2012, 02:45 PM
Once when I was a kid (years and years ago), a friends horse was snoozing on a hot summer afternoon. Somebody mentioned how happily resting the old horse was when the legs just sort of went limp. Tho he woke up before he actually fell over and caught himself. It was kinda alarming tho.

This is exactly how I would describe what I saw yesterday. He was snoozing very peacefully, then it looked like he woke up and 'caught himself' before he actually hit the ground. Afterwards he went back to sleep.

Thank you for this thoughtful post. I've got other people at the barn alerted to keep an eye on him, and I will be able to see him after work today myself. I will call the vet then, in case she wants me to check something while we're talking.

Laurierace
Nov. 27, 2012, 03:07 PM
Do you ever see him lying down to sleep anymore? Or at least see evidence he has laid down like shavings in his mane and tail? Often when they can't or won't lie down this happens. My broodmare got so heavy towards the last couple months of her pregnancy that she wouldn't lie down at all and she would fall dozens of times per day. Most of the time she would catch herself before she went all the way down but not always.

Whyevernot55
Nov. 27, 2012, 03:13 PM
I had a mare who would fall while sleeping and catch herself halfway down - my vet said it was due to her not laying down to sleep and basically getting narcoleptic, and not locking her joints properly.

That said I have also seen it in neurological horses, but it tends to be less when sleeping and more when moving.

2tempe
Nov. 27, 2012, 03:24 PM
Many years ago at a barn where I was boarding, there was a (not old) horse that had this problem. Snoozing in stall, would start to tip over, wake up. Never had a problem when he was being handled/ridden, etc.
I would still get a vet evaluation to be sure it isn't some neuro issue that has developed.

andylover
Nov. 27, 2012, 06:26 PM
I have a 25 year old, very big and arthritic t-bred who does this and has done this for years. I believe he isnt comfortable in laying down to sleep and consequently sleeps on his feet. His front knees dont lock properly and so when he gets to a heavier sleep he starts to fall. I have never seen him fall over completely. I found the first few times that I saw him do this horrifying, but as time progressed and no injuries resulted from his near misses, have learned to accept it. I cant do anything about it truly except treat the arthritis. He never did it either while being ridden. hope this helps.

Lauren12
Nov. 27, 2012, 09:08 PM
I had a 9-yo TB in high school that used to fall asleep in cross ties. After a few minutes, his knees would buckle, then he'd wake up and catch himself, then go right back to his nap. He also did this while snoozing (fully tacked up) at a horse show while my non-horsey dad was holding him. Scared my dad half to death! We never saw him go all the way down to his knees, but we knew he did because he would intermittently show up with abrasions on the front of his knees, cannons and fetlocks (which before noticing him in the cross ties I had passed off as playful TB buddy injuries).

I had a battery of diagnostics done - routine bloodwork, neuro/tick panels, full neuro exam, full eye exam etc. etc., and nothing showed up abnormal, other than 1+/5 flexions on hocks behind and 2/5 on the right front.

So, we started him on a bute trial, injected his hocks and coffin joints, started him on Adequan and Legend, and gave bute after any kind of tough work (jumping lessons, shows) and he didn't do it again for about a year. When he started it again, we rechecked blood work, neuro and tick panels, all of which were within normal limits. So, we repeated the bute and hock injections, and I didn't see him do it for the rest of the time I had him before he was sold.

I've heard it called "sleep-deprivation narcolepsy," although it isn't truly narcolepsy (as told to me from some of the higher ups in equine academia), just a lack of REM sleep because of anxiety and pain - horse knows it will hurt getting up and down, so won't lay down and sleep. It's fairly common, but does take some digging to find physical problems. I know the one that I had was at a super nice barn, doing the junior jumpers successfully (no stopping or decreased performance that I or trainer noticed), and was still falling on his face just from some minor 9 yo arthritic changes, potentially combined with the stress of away shows. ::shrugs:: I guess TB's really ARE sensitive!

alto
Nov. 28, 2012, 12:17 AM
Sure hope this isn't the beginning of something really bad. This guy has been with me so long, he's such a good guy. Will call the vet after I go check on him again. Can't stop crying. :cry: Has anyone seen anything like this?

Sorry didn't mean to scare you - except to stay off him until the vet is able to come out (check that vet is confident to do a neuro-exam).
Even if it's neurological, I'd expect horse to carry on happily enough for years, just perhaps not as a riding horse.

Hopefully it's just sleep deprivation as others have suggested :)

betsyk
Nov. 28, 2012, 07:06 AM
I've seen it, too, in both older horses and middle aged. Sleep deprivation, for whatever reason, seemed to be the common thread. Don't give up on riding him, do get him checked out, and see if you can collect data on when and where it happens. If it's only when he's relaxed and snoozing, maybe you'll never see a sign of it under saddle.

Katy9532
Nov. 28, 2012, 07:13 AM
I have a 26 yr old TB, she will not lay down ever any more. I see her at 3pm everyday taking a little snooze where she will wobble, then start to fall, wake up, straighten up, and keep on napping. Like others have posted, she is too arthritic to lay down.
I hope your horses issue is not something much more, and only sleep related.

*Teddy*
Nov. 28, 2012, 08:59 PM
what about alot of shavings? so that it doesnt hurt to lie down? I rode a 27yrs narcoleptic, standing too loong was bad. if he wasnt weaving he was sleeping. he only fell u/s if a rider let him stand too long. hah the bombproof guy? only time he spooked was when he saw hooves under the 1/4 opened door and when someone tightened the girth while he snoozed(he actually reared!)

Judysmom
Nov. 28, 2012, 09:44 PM
Agree with those who suggested sleep deprivation induced narcolepsy.

Had it happen to a horse that I owned, see it in others.

Make sure the horse has a nice place to sleep, may have to bed up the stall. Also might try a course of previcoxx, in case the old guy is just arthritic and uncomfortable.

My oldie (27) lays down to sleep, but he gets a little previcoxx everyday to keep him comfy :)

rabicon
Nov. 28, 2012, 11:42 PM
I was going to ask also if he is laying down at all. This can happen when they don't get in the rem sleep cycle enough and they can't when standing. They have to lie down for it. I'd have a vet out to check out for neuro issues butid also watch to see if he is still laying down.

Live2Jump
Nov. 29, 2012, 12:31 PM
Sorry didn't mean to scare you - except to stay off him until the vet is able to come out (check that vet is confident to do a neuro-exam).
Even if it's neurological, I'd expect horse to carry on happily enough for years, just perhaps not as a riding horse.

Hopefully it's just sleep deprivation as others have suggested :)
It's ok, I've just had him so long - when I do eventually lose him I'm going to be a wreck. The thought of that possibly being sooner than later is hard to face.



what about alot of shavings? so that it doesnt hurt to lie down? I rode a 27yrs narcoleptic, standing too loong was bad. if he wasnt weaving he was sleeping. he only fell u/s if a rider let him stand too long. hah the bombproof guy? only time he spooked was when he saw hooves under the 1/4 opened door and when someone tightened the girth while he snoozed(he actually reared!)

We don't bed our stalls (common around here) as they are always open onto their paddocks. He rotates between being out in a big field during the day/stalled at night (with small paddock access), and being in a bigger arena-sized paddock with a run-in and a sand box to roll in around the clock on the other day. When he's out in the field I still see him roll a ton (he loves to get muddy) then rearing, bucking and running around, so I don't think he has trouble getting up and down. Yesterday he was in the large paddock and I saw sand on the side of his neck/face so I do think he still lays down to sleep when he's in there. He probably is likely to get more of a deep sleep there since he is on his own and has access to the soft sand even at night. Maybe instead of alternating between the 2 spaces each morning I should make sure he's in the big paddock with the sandbox every night. (Unfortunately he can't be in there all the time because he rotates with my friend's stallion who doesn't get turnout in the field, but the stallion could stay in the stall at night.)


Agree with those who suggested sleep deprivation induced narcolepsy.

Had it happen to a horse that I owned, see it in others.

Make sure the horse has a nice place to sleep, may have to bed up the stall. Also might try a course of previcoxx, in case the old guy is just arthritic and uncomfortable.

My oldie (27) lays down to sleep, but he gets a little previcoxx everyday to keep him comfy :)

Vet has determined that it's not neurologic, so we think we are dealing with sleep deprivation now. He's been on a joint supplement for years but I'll ask about previoxx as an option if switching around his PM turnout situation doesn't help.

Thanks so much everyone!!

SuckerForHorses
Nov. 29, 2012, 01:03 PM
Agree that this sounds like sleep deprivation for some reason.

You said he is a TB - any chance he ever raced? Has he ever been treated for ulcers? Over 90% of racehorses have gastric ulcers, and constant pain can prevent a horse from achieving REM sleep which will eventually cause sleep deprivation.

Other posters are also on track with arthritis being an issue - again, constant pain, no sleep ....

One thing to think about is administering NSAIDs for the arthritis...if the issue is a combination of arthritis AND ulcers, you're shooting yourself in the foot with the NSAIDs. My mare did the falling down thing until we injected her hocks (arthritis) - after the injections, she was MUCH better but would still do it on a milder level. A few years later, she was diagnosed with ulcers. We're sure the reason she continued to do it on some level was because although her hocks felt better, her tummy still hurt.

Another thing to keep in mind: some horses that are too "on guard" will not lay down to sleep because they are edgy and are keeping an eye out for the herd or if alone, themselves. My mare is also this way (which contributes to her ulcers...)If a horse will not lay down for ANY reason, they cannot get enough REM sleep and will become sleep deprived.

jetsmom
Nov. 29, 2012, 01:24 PM
Sometimes older horse's "stay apparatus" gets worn out, and doesn't hold them up. If that is what it is, you can safely ride them, as it is only when they are trying to sleep standing up that it's a problem. You can buy boots to protect the fetlocks and ankles for when they are not being ridden.

KnKShowmom
Nov. 29, 2012, 01:42 PM
Our older guy lives out with a run in but we bring him in every afternoon for about 6 hours of "nap & quiet" time in a stall. Gives him a chance to eat, drink and sleep without anyone bothering him.

We keep pretty close tabs on when he does or doesn't lay down or looks like he is having a stiff day and will give a bute now and then along with some tractgard to buffer his stomach.

If he goes a few days without "his time" you can see a big difference in his level of alertness - he will fall asleep on your shoulder and you can see his knees buckeling!

Live2Jump
Nov. 29, 2012, 06:25 PM
You said he is a TB - any chance he ever raced? Has he ever been treated for ulcers? Over 90% of racehorses have gastric ulcers, and constant pain can prevent a horse from achieving REM sleep which will eventually cause Sleep deprivation.
[snip]
Another thing to keep in mind: some horses that are too "on guard" will not lay down to sleep because they are edgy and are keeping an eye out for the herd or if alone, themselves. My mare is also this way (which contributes to her ulcers...)If a horse will not lay down for ANY reason, they cannot get enough REM sleep and will become sleep deprived.

He's definitely a quirky OTTB. I bought him off the track when he was 6. He's never liked eating hay much, cribs and acts a bit like a paranoid psyzophrenic (sp?) when he's not being handled or ridden. We have laughed for years that we should make him a tin foil hat to help protect him from 'the aliens'. :lol: I've tried ulcer treatments a few times over the years hoping he would start eating more hay, but that never made a difference. His teeth are fine, too. It's just him, Ive always had to be a bit creative to get him to eat. Anyway, ulcers are a good thing to keep in mind but I don't suspect them at the moment.

His anxiety is what Im worried about most as a cause if it isnt arthritis. What on earth could we do to help him if thats the case? Nothing has changed in his world for a long time (same place, same feed, same turnout situation and buddies) though, so I have no idea why he would be having increased anxiety. He seems like his normal self, but I will try to pay close attention in case I can pinpoint something new.


Sometimes older horse's "stay apparatus" gets worn out, and doesn't hold them up. If that is what it is, you can safely ride them, as it is only when they are trying to sleep standing up that it's a problem. You can buy boots to protect the fetlocks and ankles for when they are not being ridden.

I actually ordered some for him yesterday!


Our older guy lives out with a run in but we bring him in every afternoon for about 6 hours of "nap & quiet" time in a stall. Gives him a chance to eat, drink and sleep without anyone bothering him.

We keep pretty close tabs on when he does or doesn't lay down or looks like he is having a stiff day and will give a bute now and then along with some tractgard to buffer his stomach.

If he goes a few days without "his time" you can see a big difference in his level of alertness - he will fall asleep on your shoulder and you can see his knees buckeling!

This makes a lot of sense for my guy. I am hopeful that keeping him in the large paddock on his own at night with access to the comfy sandbox will help him feel more comfortable to get some deep sleep. Hubby said he will get another truck full of sand for the box this weekend, too, in case it needs to be 'fluffier' for him.

jawa
Nov. 29, 2012, 07:02 PM
I wonder if the fact that you don't bed your stalls is making it so he doesn't lay down in his stall, so gets over tired / narcoleptic and has the falling spells.

Especially since he is seen or shows evidence of rolling and laying down in other locations.

I would try bedding his stall or add extra sand, something soft to his paddock area to see if this would improve him.

SuckerForHorses
Nov. 30, 2012, 08:23 AM
He's definitely a quirky OTTB. I bought him off the track when he was 6. He's never liked eating hay much, cribs and acts a bit like a paranoid psyzophrenic (sp?) when he's not being handled or ridden. We have laughed for years that we should make him a tin foil hat to help protect him from 'the aliens'. I've tried ulcer treatments a few times over the years hoping he would start eating more hay, but that never made a difference. His teeth are fine, too. It's just him, Ive always had to be a bit creative to get him to eat. Anyway, ulcers are a good thing to keep in mind but I don't suspect them at the moment.

His anxiety is what Im worried about most as a cause if it isnt arthritis. What on earth could we do to help him if thats the case? Nothing has changed in his world for a long time (same place, same feed, same turnout situation and buddies) though, so I have no idea why he would be having increased anxiety. He seems like his normal self, but I will try to pay close attention in case I can pinpoint something new.



What did you use for ulcer treatment? A 28 day course of GastroGard? Because your horse is a PERFECT candidate for ulcers, and has many of the symptoms. Also, a horse with ulcers can become that nutty anxious horse because of the pain (my mare was calm after we treated her, but as her anxious nature returned, so did her unwillingness to eat, indicating to me that her ulcers had returned. We're dealing with this right now, in fact).

If I were you, ulcers would be my FIRST suspect at the moment.

Live2Jump
Nov. 30, 2012, 12:19 PM
What did you use for ulcer treatment? A 28 day course of GastroGard? Because your horse is a PERFECT candidate for ulcers, and has many of the symptoms. Also, a horse with ulcers can become that nutty anxious horse because of the pain (my mare was calm after we treated her, but as her anxious nature returned, so did her unwillingness to eat, indicating to me that her ulcers had returned. We're dealing with this right now, in fact).

If I were you, ulcers would be my FIRST suspect at the moment.

I know, he really is. I was really surprised that 30 days of ranitidine and 30 days of BPR made no difference. Obviously ulcers can develop quickly so I'm not ruling them out, but I really think those quirks are just him. Hes been like that since he was 6. Right now he is acting/eating normally (for him), except for the falling when sleeping. If his anxiety has increased it could definitely be a factor though, so I'm watching him closely to see if anything has changed in his environment that I haven't noticed yet.

I haven't seen another falling episode (knock wood) since changing around his turnout. He now is in the large paddock with the sandbox every night, comes into the stall/small paddock for breakfast, then goes out with his buddies in the big field midday thru evening feeding time. I think he can get up and down ok, but needs the extra softness of the sandbox + the alone time at night to relax enough to use it. He used to sleep in the smaller paddock outside his stall on the nights he was in there, but I think he doesn't anymore. It's got some cushion (buckshot footing) but not nearly as much as the sandbox. I know as I get older I'm pickier about the softness of the couches/chairs I sit on, so that makes sense. Fingers crossed that we've found the solution!

SuckerForHorses
Nov. 30, 2012, 12:54 PM
Since you haven't treated him with the ONLY proven medication (GastroGard or UlcerGard) I wouldn't be convinced that its not ulcers. I have used the BPR myself (in fact, treating my mare with them for 28 days as soon as they arrive, I orderedt hem today). BUT...my mare is a confirmed ulcer case, we scoped her and she did have ulcers. We treated her wtih 28 days UlcerGard, 1 tube daily, adn then rescoped to confirm they were healed (adn they were). Now that her symptoms are reappearing, I'm going to do 28 days of BRP and see what happens. That beign said, if her symptoms don't subside with the BPR, I will do the treatment dose of GastroGard again, because I KNOW these symptoms for her are ulcers.

I wouldn't put stock in 30 days of Ranitidine healing ulcers if he had them, and I certainly wouldn't put stock in BPR since we really have no way of knowing they do waht they say they do (I realize there are anecdotal accounts, but that is not proof).