Reserpine? Sudden-onset behavioral problems in mare.
Posting question here b/c I think a lot of you know more about medications and mare problems than on the dressage BB.
Dressage mare, in work, posh barn: rock-solid compassionate, professional stablemanagement (turnout, etc.). Bad behavior came on recently, suddenly and violently--no evidence of trauma, mental or physical. Unridable now. Vet tagged problem as "behavioral."
Implying what, I wonder? That the problem is NOT physical. For sure? How sure can he be sure if he isn't there living with the mare day in and day out? I can think of a list of things that could cause this problem, can't you?
So this is what I'm wondering: Have any of you heard of using Reserpine, maybe as a diagnostic aid--i.e. if she improves, then it's not "this" or "that"? Can it be a way of ruling out certain physical issues?
Rearing, bucking, bolting, spinning, throwing herself on the ground?
Some things to consider - teething issues, stomach ulcers, spinal subluxation, kissing spines, EPM, wobblers syndrome.
How old is the mare, how long has she been at this particular facility, have her teeth and mouth been checked by a GOOD dentist, has her saddle been looked at by a professional fitter (and preferably also with her regular rider in the saddle)?
Reserpine isn't going to rule out a physical problem. It would kind of like be sedating your horse...whether your horse is hurting physically or mentally, it will have the same effect. Why not have her palpated and make sure she is ok reproductively? It might be worth it to have your vet out to just to an overall check. Don't give her reserpine.
Consider also diet. Horses can develop food intolerances or allergies even to something they've been eating for a while. There are plenty of cases were a very common feedstuff has caused a major behavior change.
I'm with everyone else on this. It sounds physical; that's the most common reason for a sudden change like this. I'd see a second opinion and if the owner's are that invested in her it sounds like a ton of diagnostics are required. Probably neck/spinal radiographs, a bone scan, etc. A chiropracter might be worthwhile, too. Has her vision been checked? I once had a 4 year old that started spooking, bolting, etc. and finally had her eyes checked. Congenital cataracts in both eyes had reduced her vision to practically nothing. There are also plenty of injuries that cannot be easily diagnosed, especially if you are dealing with a back or spinal issue. I wouldn't use the reserpine; she'll be sedated but if it is a pain issue then she is still feeling it,just can't respond to it.
This sounds similar to what happened to my Stedinger mare. She was a SAINT under saddle for the first year of riding and then suddenly became violently unrideable. Everyone tried to tell me it was behavior, but I knew it was absolutely not. I finally had her back xrayed and the xray revealed 2 fractured vertebrae (with fragments) directly under the saddle area. The weird part was that the fracture was obviously old (arthritis had set it) but she had just gone through a HUGE growth spurt and completely changed shape (sprouted withers) and the vets guessed that it had dislodged the fragments from where they had been and it became unbearable for her to be ridden. Shortly after this was diagnosed, the mare also became intermittently extremely lame on her LF, but nothing was found to be wrong with it. She would have days where she looked like she had a broken leg and then the next day was 100% sound and then the next day lame again. We suspected that the fragments were pinching some nerves or something. She's now sound 95% of the time and will never be a riding horse again.
So, keep looking......
Gee, Tico! As much as I don't want to scare anyone, gosh, I feel obligated to pass your description along. This is a young mare, too (about 6, I think).
I must find out what kind of spinal workup they did on the mare. I just remembered that Cat got worse and worse when Karen was riding her and Karen wanted me to get her a full-body something or other (scan?). My mind starting short-circuiting as I imaged the cost of that for a one-season-eventing broodmare-to-be, so whatever it was was blocked from entering very far into my mind.
The more I read, the more I think perhaps the physical work up didn't cover everything (I don't recall hearing the mare being shipped anywhere for a scan, for example).
Have her tested for Lyme disease while the work up being done.
That is exactly what came to my mind. That and her teeth. I had a mare once that had an extraction done before I got her. I started her under saddle and she was easy. My mom who had not ridden in 20 years used to hack her. Then all of sudden she became a danger under saddle. Bucking, bolting and rearing. So unlike her. New dentist came out and found that she had a peice of tooth left behind and it became very painful. Once removed she was able to continue her training and ended up being purchased to go to the track. Where she has done well for her new owner. Good Luck.
After personally knowing of more than half a dozen horses who had significant neck and/or back issues and were called sound sometimes for YEARS by local "well respected" veterinarians, I would get the mare to a top cliic and get a full workup before drugging a young horse who (IMHO) sounds like she is screaming to anyone who will listen that she has a problem.
Recently I have also learned that it is really important to not only have surgeons on the case, but vets from the medical/neurological department as well. The surgeons I had look at my horse (and others) missed some pretty significant signs that pointed exactly to my particular problem. It was a wonderful local surgeon that recommended I stop looking at joints and ligaments, etc, and start looking at the horse more holistically.
Oh, and rather than sedating her, has anyone tried to put her on a large dose of bute for a few days and see if that helps?