My horse has done this a few times over the past year, and its pretty scary! The first time it happenened, right after i put on the saddle his legs buckled underneath him. I got him to his feat and took off the saddle and he was pretty scared. i went to ride him the other day and he collapsed again after i put the saddle on. He does not seem back sore at all. it seems like an unvoluntary reaction when he goes down. And it doesn't seem consistant...most days he's totally fine, and all of a sudden it's an issue. anyone have any experience with this? Advise? i thought maybe its the girth but im not sure. He never had an issue before and it only popped up recently. Help! :-)
Last edited by Sonoma City; Dec. 21, 2011 at 02:17 PM.
He could be narcoleptic. We have had two narcoleptic horses at the barn over the years, both of whom had similar symptoms. Narcolepsy is triggered by excitement, so the horse could be anticipate being saddled, get excited, which could then set off an episode.
I'm not sure how this diagnosis is confirmed in horses (both horses I knew were already diagnosed by the time I met them), but I know that for humans you go to a sleep lab where they can monitor your brain patterns in response to various stimuli.
My old OTTB has narcoleptic issues. When he would get tired/relaxed his front end would buckle. When he started doing it with me on him at a horse show between classes I stopped riding him. He's pretty much been retired for 3 years now and he will be 24 this April. I have noticed him do it in pasture or in his paddock every now and then, but less so over the past year.
I knew a narcoleptic horse who would collapse if cross-tied or kept standing still in the center of the arena to talk to an instructor/wait for someone else to do a course. However, it wasn't predictable that she would go down at the exact same time - the falling after saddle is put on would ring some alarm bells that it could possibly be something else, but it definitely sounds like it could be narcolepsy to me, too.
My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.
Originally Posted by katarine
If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed
We also had a narcoleptic horse who would collapse if the girth was done up too fast. We had to buckle up each side on the first hole, take him for a lap around the barn, then go up a hole, walk a bit, and repeat until tight as needed..
Does your horse indicate that he sleeps prone at night (or day...)? Shavings on his flanks, mane, etc? Can he get up an down easily? (Some horses don't lay down because they can't get back up -- arthritis and other problems so they develop this sleep disorder). Horses need to sleep prone to get the benefits of REM sleep -- at a minimum of 1-3 hours/REM a day.
I ride a horse who does this -- his previous owner had the same problem. Even with deeper bedding -- he just doesn't lay down to sleep. He can roll and get up, so that is not his issue. We just watch him carefully and keep him moving when he is being groomed. During lessons, we make sure he doesn't stand for long periods of time. He is a dear, dear horse.
Some mares have this problem if there are not other mares around (they are the herd's night guards and some mares won't sleep unless they share guard duty with other mares). At least that is the theory.
It sounds like your saddle or girth is causing this if he only does it when you put the saddle on. I had a horse that did this earlier this year--it turns out he had a rib out right where the girth went on his right side. Osteopathic vet fixed it and he stopped doing it.
Could also be the saddle is pinching. There are acupuncture points under the saddle that affect breathing. Do you notice if he holds his breath when you put the saddle on?
Is he perfectly quiet when you saddle him or does he get anxious?
It is not narcolepsy if he only does it when you saddle him.
We had a horse at our barn that did this if you did not slowly and carefully put his girth on one hole at a time as another poster mentioned. Have heard of many similar stories. Try just being very careful and slow to tighten girth and see if that cures it. Sure is scary when they do go down though. I don't think its narcolepsy (if its the girth,) its a nerve that triggers it when you tighten girth too fast.
My horse has done this a few times overthe past year, and its pretty scary! The first time it happenened, right after i put on the saddle his legs buckled underneath him. I got him to his feat and took off the saddle and he was pretty scared. he seemed a little back sore so i took him to the eqine hospital to have him checked out and everything checks out. Soreness but no cause. I gave him 3 months off and started riding again. Everything seemed ok, but he had another unfortunate injury after about a month under saddle so was off for another two months. i went to ride him the other day and he collapsed again after i put the saddle on. He does not seem back sore at all. it seems like an unvoluntary reaction when he goes down. anyone have any experience with this? Advise? i thought maybe its the girth but im not sure. He never had an issue before and it only popped up recently. Help! :-)
This was years ago before accupunture. It turned out to be a girth issue. A double elastic girth (elastic on both sides) solved the problem. There is a nerve bundle right under the girth, behind the elbow. It can be hypersensitive. Accupunture can address this but a girth with double elastic should help. Obviously tightening the girth very gradually is a good idea as well. Hope this helps.
Does he have sores on the front of his front fetlocks? Some horses don't sleep lying down for who-knows-why reasons-keeping watch over his friends, doesn't like his bedding, hurts getting up, etc., etc. They sleep standing then suddenly the front knees buckle and they go down on their fetlock fronts, causing little sores. We had one like this. Couldn't figure out how those sores got there then EQUUS came out with an article describing exactly what our guy was doing.
You can search through these articles. http://www.equisearch.com/?s=sleep+disorders
Another idea is that maybe there's a pinched nerve somewhere. A friend of mine has a horse with whom she's done H/J and Eventing. One fine day he went flat out in his dressage test...turns out after LOTS of diagnostics, his chiropractor found a pinched nerve in his shoulder. Your saddle might be touching something that makes him go down.
Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.
I leased a mare that had atypical narcolepsy and she would do this occasionally. What we did was to put Vicks Vapor Rub in her nose whenever she needed to stand around for a long time. And we also left the girth loose and then tightened it slowly. But it seemed to work for her. However, I'd have a vet and maybe a chiro out to check him over to make sure there's nothing going on neuropgically. Good luck!!
The girth thing is more common than you might think. It's the reason why I got my horse for free Never, never put the girth on while the horse is tied. Start with the girth very, very loose-- like so that you can easily slide your whole hand between it and the horse-- and go for a walk in hand or lunge for a few minutes, put it up some, walk/ lunge a bit more, then put it up the rest of the way. I would also recommend girths with double elastic-- they make the whole routine a little easier. As Mr Winston said, the girth presses on a nerve-- I think it's the vargus nerve?-- which can cause some horses to collapse. Mine goes backward, hard, and then just sort of folds up. As soon as I undo the girth he leaps to his feet like nothing happened.
Truly narcoleptic horses will do it at other times, not only when you are saddling. Mine is a big napper on sunny days, so I know that's not his problem!
Try this, and if you dont mind letting me know if it works...
DONT saddle again in X ties. Some horses are girthy, and in cross-ties, seems to make it worse.
Soooo...go in stall and put saddle on. As loose as you can, but still comfortable that it wont o under belly. Walk her in circle, tighten a hole,mwalk in circle, continue till comfortably snug, that you can lunge. Lunge few minutes, and go to riding. If this works, prolly a horse who is girthy.
Now, a training help, for that....
Take a REALLY THICK pad, and put on under a lunging cavesson. Leave on an hour so a day in stall. Or better in roundpen. I have found doing this for a few weeks will help. It allows them freedom to move about, and learn they can move. I have alwaysthought, personal opinion, that girthy horses are clastrophobic to some degree, and are not positive they are still capable of moving.
You should also, obviously, check for physicalissues. But my first TB that we had off track, exact same thing...he was just girthy. And would do it to the day he died...if we didnt go thru the whole process once in a while! But gosh he was an awesome horse!
I have heard that the Vagus nerve in some horses can be involved in that "cinchy" reaction- could be on the crossties your horses stands in just the place that you catch this at times? I had a horse here that when being saddled would erupt into a bucking that would make a pro bucker proud. It was suggested to me at the time that this might also be a reaction to pressure on that nerve.
I would stop using the crossties to saddle, and see if that helps- would be afraid a horse could get hurt falling like that. Wouldn't Narcolepsy make itself known at other times?
I have one that will do that. If it is only when you are putting on the saddle, like others have said, it probably isn't narcolepsy but the nerve thing. My horse would also do it if you tried to stretch his front legs with his saddle on- triggered the same nerve.
I always untied him to tighten his girth and didn't stretch his legs. Never had any more problems.
my two year old did this. I was saddling him to get used to it and the farrier arrived a little early. didnt take the saddle off, and he almost went down. The girth wasnt tight, just a strange feeling for him. But since your horse isnt as green as mine, my bet is too tight, or you put it up too fast (that is since you didnt find anything else going on).