Has anyone ever experienced anything like this with a horse?
I am new to the forum, very experienced with horses and have trained dressage and hunter/jumpers. This past Monday, I had to euthanize a 3 1/2 year old filly. She was a "gift" to myself after rescuing 14 horses and 751 dogs. The filly came from out-of-state and was said to have a good temperament and that both sire and dam had good temperaments. She came from a breeding farm. The filly had never been under saddle, but was said to be calm and easy to load.
The morning the transporters arrived with the filly was horrible. As soon as the shipper drove up, they told me "your horse is insane" (not what you want to hear). They said that it took 2 1/2 hours to load her and that the owners were afraid of her. They also stated that she would rear straight up and several times they thought she would flip over backwards. The owners were said to have "given her treats" every she swung her rear end towards them, and yet one owner became so frustrated trying to load the filly that she ended up "prodding her with a pitchfork". They said the filly had been stomping the entire 26 hour transport and that her eyes were "nuts". They warned me that the filly was crazy and then unloaded her.
The transporters then led the filly out and she truly looked like a bomb about to go off. Her eyes were "crazy" and she was extremely tense. It was obvious the transporters were afraid of what she might do, and at that point, I was getting very concerned. The filly refused to walk forward, and would occasionally rear and threaten to bolt in the opposite direction. To keep her from running into traffic, I put a 30 ft long line on the filly and stood on her right, while one transporter stood on her left. With gentle encouragement and plenty of space, the filly finally took 2 steps forward and then bolted. We could not hold her and both had to let go let go. She stopped next to the fence and we thought everything would be ok as the horses were just on the other side of the fence. However, she suddenly plunged through the smooth wire fence and started running. She proceeded to run through 11 fences (including an aluminum gate), and somersaulted at least 6 times. She sometimes went through fences at a trot, sometimes at a canter. She finally got hung upside down and stopped. Miraculously, she was still alive and not mortally wounded. She allowed me to free her, but then would not walk forward into the pasture. We had cut a section of fence and cleared it completely so that she would have room, but she continued to refuse to move forward. The head of the transport company arrived and was able to back her into the pasture and then had to back her all the way to the barn area (about 200 yards), because she would not walk forward. The vet arrived and her most serious wound on her chest/foreleg was stitched and a drain put in. She was given antibiotics/painkillers etc. For the next 2 1/2 weeks she respected the fences and acted almost like a normal horse. She was difficult to doctor, but that wasn't surprising given the situation and that her wound was painful. At one point, she did jump through a round pen panel, when cornered by the dominant gelding, but otherwise went through open gates and did not test fences.
Last Saturday, I arrived to find that she had gone through an interior fence, no one knows why. She hit it with so much force that 6 sections of fence came down and the t-posts (which were all capped with safety caps) were all bent at a 90 degree angle. The filly was not injured and seemed "normal" that day. On Monday, after I haltered her, she reared, spun to the right and took off. I caught her twice and each time she would immediately rear, spin and bolt again. While running loose, she avoided fences and ran with her two pasturemates in a "calm" manner. Suddenly, while running with them, she swerved to the left (for no obvious reason) and went straight through the fence. To be clear, she left her buddies and had to do a 90 degree turn to find a fence to run into. They had been cantering in a wide-open area and it was incredibly bizarre behavior. She continued a slow gallop and ran into a 6 inch wood post with her right shoulder. I have video of her cantering around that same post three days prior. She hit the post with so much force that it moved 4 inches, even though it was sunk 3 feet in the ground. She ran a little further, stopped and seemed quite calm. I approached her and when caught, she again reared, spun and bolted. She cantered around and then ran into one of her pasturemate's hindquarters, and then stopped. She suddenly started running again, went through another fence and then went through the final fence and basically skinned her leg 360 degrees to the tendons. She continued cantering even though her foreleg skin was hanging about a foot and flapping below her knee. She finally stopped and stood calmly while I approached her and moved her to a small pen of round pen panels. One vein in her leg was bleeding profusely and I was afraid that she was about to bleed out. Let me stress that at no point in any of this did I get rough with her or act aggressive in any manner. I have trained many horses and do best with the sensitive breeds. I have never in my life known of a horse to act like this. It was insane. Anyway, while she didn't bleed out, her leg wound was catastrophic, and I made the agonizing decision to have her euthanized. Because it was obvious that no fence could hold her, she was a potential danger to cars and people walking. She ran into my gelding when there was plenty of room to go around him. I pictured her breaking through the perimeter fence and running into a car or person or house or anything else. This was the toughest decision that I ever made, but I saw and still see that there was no other alternative because she could not be safely contained on the property and I didn't know of any property that could safely contain her, since even 5 ft round pen panels wouldn't stop her.
The filly had been eating alfalfa/grass mix before she arrived and was changed to straight grass hay and to good pasture at my place. No grain was given. Originally, I thought the alfalfa hay was solely responsible for her behavior upon arrival and she was certainly much less frightening on the grass hay and less reactive. I have seen horses that go nuts from alfalfa and was hoping that the behavior would never return. However, she did run through 3 fences while eating straight grass hay and pasture, so obviously something else was going on as well. On Monday, while she running through the fences, it lacked the frantic insanity of the first day and was almost more frightening due to how calm she appeared while choosing to run into fences, a post, and another horse.
The filly was vaccinated for rabies before she arrived and I have to wonder if it affected her. When I vaccinated my two geldings, one literally went crazy within 24 hours and became extremely dangerous to handle (spinning, rearing, whirling and kicking). The gelding returned to normal after a holistic vet recommended treatment with Thuja (it works!)
Please do not attack me for this decision. It will haunt me the rest of my life as it is, and I am beyond devastated about this. My "dream" horse turned into a horrible nightmare literally within seconds of arriving. The day she arrived and wreaked so much havoc, the transporters kept apologizing that they had not called me when they tried to load her and thought that she was totally crazy. Certainly, I was told that a well-bred, calm, sane horse was arriving and cannot conceive of anyone deliberately sending such a dangerous horse on a transport. The breeder claims that the filly was wonderful until the transporters "did something to her", but the transporters were forthcoming as soon as they pulled in that there was something terribly wrong with this filly. I do not for a second believe that the transporters did anything to her, as they were too busy taking turns driving and sleeping. Also, the transporters stayed for 4 hours to help and the two horses left on the trailer were extremely calm the entire time. Something was wrong in this poor filly's head and I need to make sense of this (if sense can be made).