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  1. #1

    Unhappy Behavior change after foot MRI?

    My horse had both front feet imaged with an MRI last Thursday to diagnose a medial col. ligament injury in RF. Had to have shoes pulled and put under GA to have imaging done. He was super well behaved for the entire process, the vet techs were impressed and appreciative of how easy he was to handle.

    Four days later, my farrier came back to trim his feet and put his shoes (fronts only) back on. My horse has always been a star about standing for the farrier. My farrier has done him even when no one else is in the aisle because he just falls asleep on the cross ties.

    But today, he would not stand, pulled back on the cross ties, broke one cross tie, and tried to pull back nearly every time the farrier tried to pick up any of his feet (not just the fronts). Had to sedate him just to put the shoes back on.

    My horse is a 14 yo QH, quiet and reasonable as they come. Never had any issues like this (including when we were at the vet clinic). Very dissapointed and upset right now.

    Anyone have any insight into this weird behavior change? I was at the vet clinic the entire day, and I am confident that none of the techs or vets harmed or traumatized him, so no need to suggest that. Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2002
    West Coast of Michigan


    General anesthesia can have lingering effects on coordination, cognition, and balance that might not be perfectly obvious but could show up if a horse were asked to shift its weight and balance for a farrier. It's also possible that the winching and hauling of the horse in and out of the machine, no matter how careful everyone was, caused some pulled muscles or generalized soreness.

    They didn't want me to pick my horse up the day after his general anesthesia because they didn't want him to have to balance in a trailer for 2 hours until they were positive all the anesthesia effects had worn off. They did shoe him and that was no trouble, but I'd say it was a good week before he seemed 100% normal to me, and it was nothing I would say was a problem, just that he was a little subdued and quiet. He'd also had surgery right after the MRI, so was probably in some pain, but I would be a little patient before making this into a huge problem. Good luck!
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun. 4, 2009


    Thats a good point about the balance and pain from the winching/hauling. He was fine on the trailer ride back (video camera in trailer so we could see him on small screen in truck) and has been fine balancing when picking out his feet.

    What I noticed more with the farrier visit was fear. He pulled back because he was afraid of things going on around his feet. He was spooky at the farrier's tools being rolled around him, and he is not spooky about those things normally. He was also not spooky about all the carts and trays filled with first aid stuff being rolled around his feet at the vet clinic... So I still don't understand why he's having such a high fear reaction to things that are normal and everyday for him... :-( Thanks again

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2002
    West Coast of Michigan


    Maybe his tummy hurts. IME that can (among many other things) make horses spook at things that otherwise have never bothered them.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep. 13, 2002
    Pacific Northwest


    When my horse had an MRI, also under general anesthesia, he came back cuckoo. He had a bad time in recovery, cutting his face despite the padded room and helmet he wore. Then the trailer ride home two days later was bad as I had him shipped and they loaded him with buddies and a blanket in the cold morning, the day became unseasonably warm but they left him blanketed, unloaded everyone but him an hour prior to he arrived drenched in sweat and frantic, blanket torn, a mess.

    And he was wacko for months after that. I don't know if it was the GA or the bad trailer ride or what, but he was over reactive and anxious about things that were not a problem prior. We couldn't shoe him without sedation, despite his almost perfect behavior in the past. We could hardly trim the hinds, let alone shoe them, and that wasn't even the end the vet clinic worked on.

    And my previously good loader and hauler required weeks of remedial training to load and haul safely again, but I blame that on the bad hauling experience.

    Everyone around him, barn worker, reg vets, farrier, trainer, noticed the personality change. It took months before he seemed himself again. The best thing I ever did for that horse was to take him from the busy boarding barn where he was then and bring him home for his time off. We weren't set up for it, but made it happen (had to kick one of my youngsters out to the overhang so his stall was free). He was able to relax, I could control the environment better, and I think it was key to his mental recovery.

    Time and patience will pay off, I'm sure ...good luck!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May. 31, 2012


    DW nailed it with the two most likely causes: anesthesia effect or pain from the induction/recovery process. The more out there cause could be oxegyn deprivation during recovery.

    I'd a least get a good a Chiro or osteopath out there to run their hands over him. Where are you located? I know we didn't MRI a collateral ligament injury on Thursday... So I can rule out one place!

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