Years ago we had a boarder turn out his horse in side reins (per the trainer.) Horse flipped over and hit his head. Almost the same scenario played out as you describe. Barn staff could not locate the trainer's vet. We frantically started calling around all the area vets but no one would come out to euthanize the horse because they were not the regular veterinarian. It was awful. The horse's owner's teenage daughter was present during all this too.
Vet eventually got there and said it was a broken neck, though I imagine it was a fractured skull.
Not something you ever forget. I am sorry you had to witness this.
Sorry Simkie. Blood or no blood, it's a horrible feeling when an animal is suffering and in the process of dying.
I've seen more flips than I care to remember, including several in the paddock. Depending on how they go down, some manage to escape unscathed, but falling from that height with a heavy head on a hard surface almost ensures a fatal injury.
And, yes, I do believe that incompetent handling can be a culprit in inciting the behavior.
For what it's worth, our track has a state vet in the paddock during saddling and watching the post-parade.
Sounds like he flipped and hit his head. We had one of those in the paddock for the first race of the year. He didn't die then, they got him up and loaded onto the wagon and back to the barn, but he did end up being put down.
I was in the paddock when a horse did something similar. Flipped and hit her head. Lots of blood. She was on the ground for a while, I thought she broke her back. But she got up and was vanned off. Never raced again, but outside of that, I don't know what happened to her.
A lot of times, if they flip, they will end up ripping two muscles from their origin at the back of the head, within the guttural pouch. These muscles run down the front of the cervical vertebra, so you can see how hyperextension of the neck/poll could cause it. Because it is so vascular in the guttural pouch, there is generally a lot of bleeding involved.
As someone else said, guttural pouch mycosis is also a cause of extreme epistaxis, but given that the horse just flipped, it was likely that they ripped these muscles from their origin.
Guttural pouch mycosis could account for what you saw. Technically, the mycosis ("fungal infection") doesn't cause death. It causes constriction/weakening of a branch of the internal carotid artery which runs over the guttural pouch. When the wall of the artery gives way, the horse hemorrhages fatally into the guttural pouch, which then flows out the nose.
Witnessed something very simliar several years ago at a polocrosse tournament. Spectacular torrent of blood and similiar reactions. Guttural pouch mycosis was the best guess.
I worked at a barn where someone trailered in for a lesson.
Getting off the trailer the horse reared, hit its head hard, and bit off its own tongue.
It lay in a pool of blood in the driveway kicking and flailing until it bled out. The vet arrived minutes later to euthanize it but it was already dead. Awful awful awful but there was nothing anyone could do.
I was at the paddock fence and witnessed this incident. I'm a long time lurker here and lifelong horse person, as is my partner who was with me. Yes, as others have said, maybe stuff 'just happens,' however in this case in my opinion it was not random, it could have been prevented entirely from the start of when I began watching. Filly rears, twice in saddling stall enclosure. Both times hits her head on metal roof, raking her head along the beams. My husband says, thats it, she should be done for the day back to stall, she hit her head. Stalls are WAY to low roofed for safe handling of horses. (an apparent epidemic here as I complained about this at my former stable. Same builder I believe) The handlers finally realize they should lead her out of the enclosure, where, seemingly in slow motion, she rears straight up, and over backwards. Screens come up as has been discussed. Handler pulled on her as she went up. Rule one in horse handling, never hold a rearing/pull back horse. They just pull more. That is what I saw. Handler also stayed directly in front of her during rear, trying to pull her down. Only made rear worse. I realize discussion here has been more related to the biological why as to horse died. I'm far more concerned with the fact that this incident DID NOT have to happen at all and was the result of inept handling. Not the first of which we had seen in our half hour previous arrival at this track. A sad day indeed, for good horsemanship.
That is an incredible story, and you are right, if the vet had not been right there with the DMSO he would not have made it. I saw a horse flip over six times at Charles Town in the paddock, the first time kicking the assistant trainer in the head, and they ran him anyway but that is another story. He knew how to flip over and fall so well, his body would thump on the soft ground there, and his nead never hit. Everyone who knew the horse, knew he had to be saddled at the walk, well except the assistant trainer who needed a kick to the head and still did not figure it out. I will never understand to this day, why in the hell the paddock judge did not scratch that horse. Sorry you had to see this OP. The bleeding from the nose can come from some kind of arterial bleeding if they hit their head on a wall or of course the ground.
As Apolloette has said, most of the cases of horses rearing and flipping are because people are idiots and have no idea how to handle a frightened horse. If they would fine people for putting the horse in danger like this, at the racetrack or any public competiton, this kind of insanity would have a spotlight put on it. Inept, stupid or angry people should not handle horses, period, and the only way to prevent it is at this point and protect everyone is to fine the crap out of them. This puts a black eye to racing, which it most certainly does not need at this point.
"Nothing in life is to feared. It is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more and fear less." Marie Curie
Handling a rearing horse is one of the most challenging aspects of horsemanship because you have to overcome your instincts which tell you to get the horse back on the ground. I take it a step further and not only do I not try to pull a rearing horse back down but I also don't try to stop a horse that is backing up. If you pull on a backing horse rearing is generally the next step. I wouldn't call it inept or stupid as it is counter intuitive so they most likely were never taught to do it the right way.
My gut feeling goes along with OP's post #15... I tend toward thinking that something was wrong internally before the misbehavior- which caused the misbehavior- and the drama of the big rearing and flipping over is distracting and easy to focus on- let's ask why did she rear?
I don't think it's fair to assume that this was the handler's fault for pulling on the lead. Or the builder's fault for having a low ceiling or the trainer's fault for not pulling her and sending her back to her stall . She was likely in some sort of crisis already.
Spoke with the trainer today. This was a hot, sensitive horse. She had done very well in the barn, on the walk up to the paddock and in the paddock to be saddled. When she was taken out of the saddling stall to circle, she lost her little mind and started standing up. They brought her back into the saddling stall to calm her down, she went up again, hit her head and "got mad" and everything escalated to her going up and over.
It doesn't look like there were any medical factors but just a hot, sensitive, nutty horse who had some trouble in the paddock and everything just went wrong.
We're all critics, and I can't comment as I did not see the proceeding events, but I don't doubt that this trainer did everything he could to not have this happen.
You know, Littleton Equine has multiple interns. It might be good experience for one of them to hang out in the paddock every racing day. Would insure that a horse was attended while the track vet was getting to the paddock in emergencies. Paddocks are a super charged place, sometimes.
I never did see the vet in the paddock. I did hear him paged twice. There are at least two regular vets who work the backside every race day (perhaps every day, I don't know.)
I don't know what the track's policies are re: having a vet at the ready for horses in the paddock or on the track. There is a licensing issue for any vet who would like to work on the backside. I am unsure of how much $$ that particular license category runs, or what the paperwork looks like for vets.
Not making excuses by any means--I'm still curious why there wasn't a vet in the paddock--but it may not be a simple matter. I just don't know.
Often rearing in young horses, or even older ones at the track or at home is due to teeth problems, either erupting, or, wolf teeth which have been broken off when pulled and then start to erupt at a later date. Very few people check mouths when misbehaviour starts, couple that with an insensitive or inexperienced handler and you have a major problem.