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(posting for a friend) Medical Mystery :(

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    (posting for a friend) Medical Mystery :(

    I told my friend I would post her question on COTH, as I have always gotten a ton of help from my COTH friends when it comes to anything medical! Please read below:

    "My mare has been having some trouble lately, I'll outline below. To date my vet has been consulted countless times, and is scheduled to come out again tomorrow to pull blood. I thought I would throw this up here - see if anyone has any ideas.


    My Mare foaled on April 19 late evening, she had some difficulties post foaling, and ultimately had to be tubed and received Mineral oil to help an impaction, she also received Banamine for bad cramping.

    The following day she started displaying signs of discomfort during grain feedings. She would eat half her grain, lay down very calmly and rest for a few minutes, she would then get up, finish her grain and go about her routine as normal. This went on for several days and began to get worse each feeding.
    She progressed to biting her chest while kicking out with her back legs for a few minutes each time she got up - then would camly finish her grain.

    I was in constant communication with my Vet. We decided to treat for Ulcers, for one week to see if she would respond. A few days in she was no better, I started soaking her grain (Brooks Phase 2 pellets) with tons of water - looking almost like a soup - this seemed to do the trick! She appeared to be improving and as long as her grain was thoroughly soaked she did not lay down or appear to have any difficulty. As a result of this I opted not to continue the Ulcer treatment. I concluded that it could have been some irritation from the tubing, and that soaking her grain lessened this irritation.

    The problems seemed to fade over the following days/weeks but either never really did go away, or are now back in full force.

    I noticed she's biting at her chest again/still, she has open wounds from where she is biting herself. It seemed that once I started soaking her grain the problems disappeared or at least lessened to the point where they were going under my radar. One night a couple weeks ago I fed her grain and stayed for her to eat. She eat her very well soaked grain WITHOUT laying down and after thoroughly licking her bowl clean she came into the shelter where I was with the baby, she walked into 'her' corner where she always poops, had a very normal poop and then stood there for a few minutes. she started shifting weight on her back legs from one to another, she reached down bit and held her chest for a minute then rapidly kicked the wall, striking out with each of her back legs HARD - over and over and over.

    I tried calming her, she just continued to bite her chest, once she looked back at her side (this is the first time I've seen her do this) she kicked the wall a few more times and then took a few steps forward and started shifting weight again. The whole time she was in obvious pain and had her ears back. She stood still for a few minutes and seemed to be getting better, then the baby wanted to nurse - Mama was in such obvious pain - I was in tears! She let the baby nurse, but each time the baby head butted her she cried out and raised her head VERY high and pinned her ears - it really hurt her. I checked her udder, there is no sign of infection at all, so my thought is that the baby nursing and hitting her tummy furthered the pain of whatever was bothering her to begin with. She suffered thru it, stood still for a few more minutes after the baby finished nursing and then she was then fine and went to eating hay. I opted not to give her bute or similar at the time because I have heard that if she does have Ulcers that will aggravate them further. I stayed with her a while longer, she appeared perfectly fine.

    I had another consultation with my Vet, we decided she's been threw enough trauma, and because she is nursing we opted not to fast and then scope her - we again treated for Ulcers, more aggressively this time. She has been on the Ulcer medication for about 2 weeks, I've reduced her grain to just half a scoop and she gets it soaked with Alfalfa cubes, twice daily.

    She is no longer laying down at any point while eating, and I thought the Ulcer treatment must be working, as I now stay each time she eats and I haven't seen any problems.

    So, two nights ago I was at the barn watching a lesson in the sand ring that is near my mares field, this was not during a meal, and not even close to when she had eaten. She was out for a stroll with baby, stopped to watch some of the lesson, then out of nowhere she reached down, bit her chest and started kicking out with her back legs. I've seen this now on a few other occasions, now that I know to just sit and watch her. So it seems that this whole time I was sure this issue was related to her eating, it's possible that it has nothing to do with it.

    Has anyone ever seen a horse do something like this?
    She has open wounds on her chest from biting herself! These 'episodes' seem to come and go, in between she is perfectly calm, and there is no apparent outward reason/trigger for these episodes.

    Because this all started the night she foaled, I can't help but think it might be reproductive...maybe infection?"

    Any thoughts?

    Did she retain any of the placenta?
    R.I.P. Eagles Hill. 4/6/00-12/10/11.


      Original Poster

      No - the placenta was thoroughly checked by the vet and it was intact and all there.


        Did the vet spend time looking closely at the esophagus during the scoping?
        Sounds like there might be something going on there.
        "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

        ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


          Can I suggest you cross post on the Breeding section as you'll get more folks dealing with reproductive-related issues there.

          IMHO -- sounds like a serious problem that I'd be throwing the book at, personally. A mare biting herself into wounds would necessitate big action if my horse . . .


            The mare was not scoped, we figured it best, especially after a recent colic AND the fact that she is nursing that we not fast her, for a scope - we opted to treat instead.

            I'm obviously new here, I thought it best if I set up a profile to best answer these questions, I would like to thank everyone in advance for their help/thoughts.

            As for ....
            Originally posted by hollyhorse2000 View Post
            IMHO -- sounds like a serious problem that I'd be throwing the book at, personally. A mare biting herself into wounds would necessitate big action if my horse . . .
            I can assure you that this situation is being taken VERY seriously and I am doing everything I can to help her. I have an unbelievable amount of money invested in Vet consultations, medications ect ... to no avail .... thus why I'm on a public BB begging for thoughts/opinions - I'm desperate for answers/options and any possible way to help my Mare.


              This sounds a lot like "judybigredpony"s long battle with impaction. I sold a colt that nearly battered himself to death over ulcers so I know it can happen. Let me see if I can find the link to that impaction story. It will give you some ideas and some hope.

              Here we go:


                Altho I would exhaust all possible pain realted issues first, SOME horse, for wahtever reason begin "savaging" themselves. I ahve seen this behavoir, usually in stallions. No known cause, usually, and with stallions sometimes gelding stops it. However, I knew a horse that continued this even after gelding.


                  Originally posted by shawneeAcres View Post
                  However, I knew a horse that continued this even after gelding.
                  Yes, it can become an almost involuntary behavior similar to human Turrets. Goggle Self Mutilation in horses. There's not a lot out there.


                    Just an update; the blood work has come back with no abnormalities, in fact it's "Absolutely Perfect".

                    With each passing day the mare is becoming more withdrawn, she is allowing the foal to nurse, but other than that is not interacting with her at all, she is allowing her pasture mate (A pony gelding) to raise the foal. She is rapidly loosing interest in the baby.

                    I'm making arrangement for an Equine massage therapist to come out, and if that doesn't help I will move onto a chiropractor.

                    She is still being treated for possible Ulcers, and we've opted to continue that treatment for another two weeks...just in case. But, in absence of ANY abnormalities on her blood work, I'm hesitant to believe it's ulcers.... maybe it's physical.

                    It has also been suggested that it could be emotional, that she is possibly overwhelmed with the baby and / or the attention she's getting and could be 'jealous' and since she cares about the foal enough not to completely reject or turn on her that she is taking her frustration out on her own chest?!


                      Any muscle wasting? Any soreness? Any neuro symptoms? TPR normal? Weight loss or gain?
                      Off Topic Discussion about Life, Interests & Politics


                        Has she had a trans-abdominal ultrasound ? A nephro-splenic entrapment is not uncommon after foaling. Since she did have colic symptoms it would be a possibility.
                        Good luck !


                          Sigh....just lost a big post to you - trying again here. I had a mare who exhibited very similar behavior to your friend's mare. She was my show horse although she had foaled twice before I bought her, apparently with no problems. After retiring her from showing, we sent her to a very high profile breeding clinic for A.I. and it was discovered that all her "spells" were caused by an ovarian cyst causing her much pain, particularly when shedding a follicle. Ultrasound revealed the cyst. According to the clinic, this is not uncommon although not all mares suffer the pain my mare suffered. Breeding was not recommended and we brought her home and retired her to pasture. Banamine helped her greatly when she would have one of her "spells" and they eventually subsided after about two years.

                          When it was mentioned that the mare suffered pain when the foal would bump her tummy - that really rang a bell because my mare could not be groomed in the lower abdominal area when she was suffering with pain from the cyst. Your friend's vet may not be tuned in to the many problems that can afflict a mare breeding-wise. I had excellent vets who pulled a lot of bloodwork and could come up with nothing with my mare. It took a really good breeding clinic to find the cyst.
                          Susan N.

                          Don't get confused between my personality & my attitude. My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are.


                            Honestly, she needs to go to a clinic for a full diagnostic work up with all the latest gadgets-something is really wrong and the fact she is losing interest in the foal-and maybe life itself-worries me more then the rest of it. That usually means great pain or, possibly, neurological disorders.

                            There is only so much a mobile vet with a general practice can do and that depends on what's on their truck. I wouldn't think a massage and chiro adjustment are going to do anything but cost you more with this depressed, self mutilating new mother that is losing interest in her baby.
                            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                              Originally posted by findeight View Post
                              Honestly, she needs to go to a clinic for a full diagnostic work up with all the latest gadgets-something is really wrong and the fact she is losing interest in the foal-and maybe life itself-worries me more then the rest of it. That usually means great pain or, possibly, neurological disorders.

                              There is only so much a mobile vet with a general practice can do and that depends on what's on their truck. I wouldn't think a massage and chiro adjustment are going to do anything but cost you more with this depressed, self mutilating new mother that is losing interest in her baby.
                              Really agree with your post - sometimes it's the only way to find the solution. I just realized the owner of the mare has posted on here - I missed the post before. Honestly, don't waste money any further on chiropractic or massage therapies. Those therapies are good for a lot of ailments but going on the description of the symptoms in the first post, you need a serious work-up from a well qualified clinic. I sympathize with you concerning rising costs associated with the mare - I've been there too many times with horses.
                              Susan N.

                              Don't get confused between my personality & my attitude. My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are.


                                I agree with the above. You're wasting money having your vet out over and over who has no answers. Load mommy and baby on the trailer and get to a clinic. It could be any number of things but regardless she's obviously in tons of pain whether emotional or physical and the source needs to be identified and treated before the mare kills herself or her foal.
                                Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.


                                  What Findeight said. This is BEYOND where a mobile vet, masseuse or chiro can deal. To a clinic, immediately if not sooner!
                                  "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


                                    Thanks everyone for their thoughts. I'm fortunate to live in close proximity to a large, reputable clinic, and it is this clinic that I've been working with, and will continue to work with.

                                    Does anyone have any thoughts on a possible behavioral explanation for this?

                                    Have you ever seen a Mare start to reject/dislike a foal after several weeks?

                                    Ever known a Mare to become jealous of her foal?

                                    What about the HUGE change in her daily life/routine...causing such emotional distress?

                                    I'm pleased to say that I spent the entire day with her today, I fussed over her all morning, just like I would have prior to her foaling, she did not bite herself once. She is more than willing to allow the filly to nurse, but is still not 'engaged' with her, she's quite distant.

                                    I will be having a Massage Therapist out, it's certainly not going to do her any harm, infact if anything, this stress/pain...or whatever is going on with her is certainly going to cause her to be tense, while this may not correct the issue, it could certainly help her relax and feel better, even if for a short while - money well spent in my book.


                                      We bred horses for about 18 years and never saw foal rejection after that long of a period. I did have a few mares who were intensely jealous of sharing food and their foals had to learn to eat out in their adjoining paddocks while their mothers ate inside. Couldn't even use a creep feeder with two mares because they were so ugly to their foals. I also have had some insecure mares that didn't quite get the full-blown mothering instincts I would prefer to see but they were sufficient mothers. I tried to read back to see if you mentioned this but didn't see it - is your mare a maiden mare? It probably doesn't have anything to do with her current problems but some maiden mares can be pretty peculiar with their first foal.
                                      Susan N.

                                      Don't get confused between my personality & my attitude. My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are.


                                        I would ask for some sort of imaging and take a look inside....something is bothering her and over time it could become behavioral but there is a reason it started in first place.
                                        "If you've got a horse, you've got a problem"