Just heard from my neighbor and friend that her young mare, most likely has brain tumors. Jingles for my friend please, she's had a rough year as it is.
The mare has been showing head trauma-like symptoms for the past 3 months that would seem to "heal" and then randomly reappear. It's pretty upsetting as this horse has a really great disposition and we had talked about me taking her to her first event this past summer before the first incident in August. It has been heartbreaking to watch this horse go from "What a wonderful day!" type to staggering in the barn like a drunken sailor and back again.
She has been seem by multiple vets and specialists, who have seen the drastic change in her demeanor. After the last visit to a specialist (I've changed the names) ,
"While there *the mare* became nervous and her behaviour became extreme. The chiropractor observed horizonal nystigma and mare began head shaking- like behavior. Specialist said that that behavior combined with her whole history suggests a cluster of brain tumors or possibly one brain tumor. She said that it's now known that a horse can have one or even no external tumors and be riddled with them internally. Mare was totally unaware of where we were and it was very difficult and even dangerous to handle her. Chiro was floored because she's only seen the sweet Mare we knew before all this stuff began. So the sad news is I'm going to euthanize her."
The horse does happen to be grey, I don't know if that predisposes her to internal tumors as opposed to melanomas. Does anyone know of the causes or early symptoms to try to catch this earlier in other horses? Is this common? I know scientifically cancer happens to all creatures, I've just never heard of a brain tumor in a horse before, let alone a young one (she is 5). This came as a total surprise to us, like I said we were aiming for a few small shows.
It seems to me like the most dramatic symptoms were exhibited after being slightly stressed: in August we were heading out for a hack and she became spooky at a mule and turkey penned together(she's seen them before) and went downhill from there. This last time in front of the specialist, she had been trailered some distance to a new farm(she's trailered before without incident). There was one other incident that was totally unprovoked, neighbor heard a loud bang in the barn during the day and found the horse staggering in the run-in area, her other 3 were outside perfectly fine.
I ohly know about brain tumors in humans, not in horses. I've had 5 friends with brain tumors. Two lived who had benign tumors that were operable. The 3 with malignant tumors lived 12 month to 3 yrs with treatment and surgery.
I know all had severe headaches and loss of balance.
I doubt there have been many studies on brain tumors in horses since most would not have been diagnosed.
There are some theories about brain tumors running in families and therefore being hereditary. One friend who died of a brain tumor had an uncle who had also died of a brain tumor. And my good friend whose father died of a brain tumor also died of one. All smoked tobacco though,so maybe what the doctors told them did not factor in the nicotine element. And the mare in question is going to have personality and physical changes. As the tumors grow, they put pressure on different areas of the brain and cause physically changes and mental changes. Like seizures. Which is how one of my friends found out he had a tumor.
ETA I've never even known a dog or cat with a brain tumor diagnosis. Lots of liver cancer/tumors, but no brain tumors. I'm sure it has happened, but I've not had friends with animals diagnosed.
I think gray horse melanomas in very young horses is rare, but we did have a four year old andalusian colt I started that had some tennis ball tumors under his tail and a few golf ball sized in his throat area.
He was a very light blueish gray with big dapples, a color I had and have since not seen again and mostly white mane and tail, some small socks and a small blaze.
He was super gentle, kind and not slow to ride, but after six months started having some stumbling and balance problems and eventually we had to send him back to the breeder.
The colt we heard later had to be euthanized and had some brain tumors also.
I hope this mare will be ok after all, or can have relief soon if not.
She's a beautiful steel dapple gray with a lighter face, just a real sweetheart. She has a hairless growth on her forehead, the vet biopsied and tests came back as an ulcerated wart. No other tumors are obvious or external.
The first incident she basically lost it under saddle once she became agitated by the turkey/mule, rearing, bucking, totally gone mentally. I hopped off her as we were near a barbed wire fence and was handing her off to her owner when she bolted back to the home property about 1 mile away. My friend caught up with her at home and got back on only to have her freak out again and go sideways through/over her 5' no climb fence. Thinking it was a behavioral issue, we wanted to end with a positive and put her on the lunge-line. I think she trotted maybe 1 time around before she started coughing up gobs of blood/mucus (mostly blood). We both thought she was dying then and there, I had my cell out to call vet instantly. She "recovered" and was a space cadet the rest of the day. That was probably one of the scariest things I've ever experienced...
I guess she's calmer back at home and my friend is going to give her some time to just be a horse and then put her down before she heads to her PA farm sometime around December, or before if she happens to decline in health.
Jingles to you and your friend.
I've known a horse that had a tumor that effected the eye, the eye was removed, but it spread to the other eye, I should say occular area, many months later. That good boy was euthed.
Unfortunately have seen brain tumors in dogs and cats as well. Not common, but still.
Jingles for your friend, as someone who has experienced the same thing. Melanoma tumours were the reason I lost my beloved screen namesake 14 months ago at 15. She was also grey
She had many external lumps, both hard and soft, especially around her throat. They were ugly and gross
One August evening I got a call from the barn that she had just crashed into the fencing and fallen down as if she had gone blind, and was now standing there shaking, confused and very frightened. In the 8 minutes it took me to get to the barn she had somewhat recovered but was still acting confused. I stayed overnight at the barn to observe her if it happened again [it didn't].
The next morning I called my vet and described what had happened the night before. She confirmed my suspicion that something like this had happened before when no-one was around to witness it, and that it would happen more and more frequently as the tumours grew into her brain, and perhaps happen when someone was near her who would become trapped and injured, or worse, at that time.
I had her put down that afternoon, as I couldn't bear to have her suffer the indignities of these seizures.
Incidentally, a grey Andalusian stallion that boarded at the same barn before I got there had to be put down because his personality changed so badly due to a tumour also. Apparently his normal, sweet nature changed overnight into a butterfly-attacking demon that couldn't be safely fed.
Has this horse been diagnosed with a brain tumor? This would require a cat scan or xray or something that would show the brain and any abnormality. Lesions included. You cannot diagnose a brain tumor by behavior or by external examination.
And coughing up blood is not symtomatic of a brain tumor.
A trip to Cornell or another teaching vet hospital might confirm or deny a tumor. The horse might have something that is treatable. Or a totally different disease. Bizarre behavior could be caused by EEE or WNV. But neither of those would cause bloody coughing. EPM can cause seizures.
I did know of a driving horse that had a brain tumor. A really nice horse that would all of a sudden start trembling and then flip himself over backwards. Not good, but really not good when hooked to a carriage.
They euthanized him and found the tumor during necropsy.
Kanoe Godby www.dyrkgodby.com See, I was raised by wolves and am really behind the 8-ball on diplomatic issue resolution.
There was a horse featured in an Australian horse magazine a few years back with similar symptoms to the ones you have described. It had a (forgive me here) para-nasal tumor (??) - basically a tumor/growth/compaction in its sinus that gave it constant migraines and strange behaviours such as described above. They thought it had a brain tumor but a scan revealed these tumors. Horse had it's sinus' scraped and lived a happy life thereafter.