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Sudden-onset, intense box walking -- UPDATE post 47

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  • #21
    Could she have ulcers that are really bothering her (more than they were) which causes her to stress, which causes her ulcers to bother her more, which causes her stress some more, lather rinse repeat.
    Once you take her out the interaction and the attention she pays to other things lowers her stress level.


    • #22
      IF it was electricity and you put another horse in there as a 'canary'
      wouldn't the same thing happen to that horse?

      Funnily enough there is a large barn here and a lot of their paddocks are under a power transmission line as well as the parking lot. When we used to haul in their for shows, lessons, etc. some horses would be fussy tied to the metal trailers, some not seem to care.
      Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


      • Original Poster

        The latest -- she was calm all afternoon yesterday and then went nuts again last night. Still only upset in the stall, and immediately calm after stepping out into the aisle. She slowed down gradually last night, and was mostly calm by morning.

        Today I went through with a move to another local barn (which had been in the works for some time, but this issue caused me to bump up the move date). She was great in the trailer and did fine in a stall during the morning and in a small paddock in the afternoon (I've given up on stall resting her). She spent the day completely calm -- totally not bothered by the new situation. But in the evening when I put her back in her stall she ignored her grain/hay and lost her mind, worse than I've ever seen -- spinning, cantering around the tiny box, pawing at the door, rearing and trying to scramble up the stall bars to go over the top. I tried turning off the lights and closing up the barn, but that just seemed to make it worse -- it was more than I could stand to see just the glimmers of my horse's blaze and stockings flailing about over the tops of the stall walls in the dark.

        So here are my latest theories:
        1. Not a voltage leak, due to the issues in multiple stalls/barns
        2. Not claustrophobia (since she was calm in the trailer)
        3. Worse at night than in the day -- perhaps a traumatic experience in the night before it started?
        4. Worse in this new stall, which doesn't have any facing stalls or direct views to other horses, and ameliorated somewhat when she has a direct line of sight to horses she knows well. So probably an anxiety issue.
        5. Could be ulcer related (esp. if, for example, the staff missed a dinner feeding the night before it started). But the sudden onset doesn't jibe with my previous ulcer experiences, and when she's out of the stall she's calm even when she's not focused on other things, so I don't think it's as simple as pain/distraction.

        At this point, given the sudden onset and intensity of the issue, I'm starting to think something very bad happened to her in her stall the night before this all started. There were no signs of being cast, but I can't rule it out. This evening's behavior was sheer terror and full on panic -- my nerves are still a little shaken from seeing her try to climb up and over the stall walls.

        Right now she's in a different stall where she can see horses on both sides -- it's not possible to make this the permanent arrangement, but it seems to keep her to a walk and not panicking/sweating through her blankets. I've got a stall mirror on the way but don't feel safe putting even a nibblenet in with her now so she'll have to get by without distractions until I can get a mirror up.

        How I wish she could just articulate what is bothering her!!!
        Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!


        • #24
          Wow, no advice but I can't imagine dealing with a horse on rest with a ligament injury spinning in it's stall! Hope your horse hasn't injured itself worse and you figure this out quickly!


          • #25
            Originally posted by ElisLove View Post
            Wow, no advice but I can't imagine dealing with a horse on rest with a ligament injury spinning in it's stall! Hope your horse hasn't injured itself worse and you figure this out quickly!
            This happened with my horse a few years ago. He constantly weaved and paced the entire four months of stall rest.

            Can't offer any other suggestions but I know how scary and frustrating it is watching your horse panic and possibly hurt himself and you're helpless to stop it.

            Is there a grooming stall where she can be tied at night, like a straight stall?


            • Original Poster

              Thanks for the well wishes! There isn't any sort of tie stall at either the old one or the new one. I'd just tie her in the box if I trusted her not to pull back. I was scared tonight that she was going to flip herself over trying to get out over the top of the walls, though, so I think the panic state is more potent than her respect for the halter/rope.

              I've sort-of given up hoping to maintain the rehab situation and am now just hoping she doesn't kill herself by colic or some sort of panic-induced accident.

              Originally posted by pony baloney View Post
              This happened with my horse a few years ago. He constantly weaved and paced the entire four months of stall rest.

              Can't offer any other suggestions but I know how scary and frustrating it is watching your horse panic and possibly hurt himself and you're helpless to stop it.

              Is there a grooming stall where she can be tied at night, like a straight stall?
              Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!


              • #27
                X-Halt- does her stall have double walls... I had a situation where a creature was living in the wall and scaring a horse to death. His neighbor could not care less. I never found out what it was but Scary Horse could hear it moving around at night and it drove him nuts. We left him out at night until a stall in the stud barn was available. IT arrived in the winter, left in the spring. I'm sure IT was a big snake hibernating in the wall, anything else would have left tracks or poop.


                • #28
                  I would think tying her would be the best option, if only to break the cycle (this seems to be heading into obsessive/stereotypy sort of territory to me). I'm a big fan of using stalls for tying in general (for tacking, for cooling out, for grooming, for teaching patience) - primarily because it is so safe. It's pretty hard for them to really get going backwards because...where do they go? There's a wall on every side (almost any horse will pull back, given something scary enough and no wall to their behind to stop them, IME). I'd tie her in a safety knot with water and her hay bag and plan to camp out for the evening. Over the long term, this craziness in a stall may actually be more harmful to her than the possibility of her setting back - I wouldn't want this to become a learned behavior/habit, were it a horse of mine...

                  I agree with the others that acing her in such a worked up state is probably a terrible idea, however, I would consider having your vet out to prescribe a long-acting tranq (like reserpine), but administered while she is out of the stall and has been for awhile to let her come down from the adrenaline.


                  • #29
                    I am with you that it sounds like something really frightened her at night. Have you ever tried playing soft music for her, someone told me that horses like the quiet better because they are so attuned to the environment, but it sounds like she could use a bit of a distraction. I mean some classical music, I know some barn owners would not allow a radio on all night but just maybe to see if it helps her, and of course put it well out of the way of any horse lips to wires possibility. Poor mare, I hope she settle down soon. She must be so exhausted.
                    "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK


                    • #30
                      Since darkness seems to be her trigger can you have her eyes checked? Maybe as light dims she can't see as well and becomes panicy?
                      Ask vet for one of the long acting tanquilizers, Prolixin was what we used on OTTB that were on stall rest and needed help to stay calm. Really works!
                      You are right something happend, you may never know what. Getting her settled is the priority. If the barn will let you, can you tie an old/calm babysitter type horse by her door for moral support? Just for one night until you can get the
                      long acting tranq into her and rule out any vision problem
                      By the way- how old is your mare, re-reading your post, it sounds alot like the seperation anxiety the weanlings go thru. Is she vocal at all? Contact calling, or snorting. Does any other horse answer back?
                      Last edited by csaper58; Jan. 9, 2013, 12:50 AM.


                      • #31
                        I do hope you have this horse on a tad more than the maintenance dose of UlcerGard! If she doesn't have ulcers, she will after this ordeal!
                        "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


                        • #32
                          Me too

                          I would be really interested to hear what happens with you. Because I am going through the same thing and do not know what to do. I have a very sweet, mild mannered, QH. She is a dream on the ground. And, is a pleasure to ride. She used to love her stall.... That is, up until about a month ago. The barn manager said she suddenly seemed "frantic" one morning and was anxious to get out. (She is on about 8 hour/day turnout since it is winter.) The BM didnt seem super concerned about it. But, said it was abnormal behavior for her, which I agreed. I could not go out in the mornings to see what was happening, but I caught her doing it one evening. She was a frantic, crazed horse. Quickly flipping from one side to the other. She was pacing like a tiger and she was nickering. Not whinnying or really calling. I was so saddened and scared by what I was seeing. She seemed inconsolable. She had plenty of hay and had just eaten. Thinking she may have been claustrophobic , I tried opening her door. She promptly broke through her stall guard. Its like she was looking for something. I cant describe it.
                          Fast forward a few weeks of this going on... I was called out to the barn last night because she fell from being so frantic. I went out there and of course she was pacing. (btw- she was fine from the fall.) Someone came up to me and said, "yes, I saw she was walking and opened her door and gave her treats...." (hmmmm....). It got me thinking... is it an attention thing?? Everyone left for the night and it was just me and her. She starts pacing when her eye catches me standing near her stall. I quietly, but sternly say "no". she pauses.... this repeats 2 more times. She stops pacing.
                          I pretended to leave a few times and came back over a course of an hour. No pacing...

                          Probably like you, I have read a lot on this subject lately. People tend to say the same things "give them neighbors, give them a goat, give them turnout..." Well, when most of us board, we cant just go off and buy a goat and put it in our horse's stalls. she has neighbors on either side of her, but she cannot see them. I cannot tear down the walls or cut holes out.
                          I cannot give her more turnout than the rest of the horses. her routine has to be the same as theirs.

                          Something is just not right with this little horse and it is killing me that I cannot figure it out. I do not believe that moving stalls or barns for that matter will help because I just have a feeling it goes deeper than that. (Oh and no signs of any critters...)

                          Here are some of my theories and things I am trying or going to try....
                          - Stomach hurts/ulcers. She is already on a ulcer preventative. Someone suggested a hind gut buffer. She has a history of ulcers. Maybe something threw her over the edge and her stomach hurts. (she has also been pretty gassy lately and looks a little bloated.) So, Monday I started her on equishure. we will see if that helps.
                          - Separation anxiety: Someone suggested a stall mirror. We bought one and the husband is installing it this weekend. To go along with this. I also bought her a baby toy that talks and plays music when its moved. i brought it out so she could see it and touch it and hear it. she was unphased, but seemed interested. So, I am hanging it in her pacing pathway this evening and see if it being in her way annoys her enough to slow her down. and, if the music/talking calms her.
                          - Attention: I am hanging a sign on her wall that says "no treats". It could be that she was doing it one day and someone gave her treats (as that guy said he did the other day.) So, now she thinks she has to do it all the time.
                          - Abuse: Oddly enough, my friend's horse started acting weird. Shaky and nervous. She moved barns last week and the horse is back to normal. you never know what could really be happening when no one is around. hmmmm... this one, I do not have a solution for yet.

                          Please let me know if you figure anything out and if you are interested I will let you know if anything I try works out.


                          • #33
                            Have you thought about a 'nanny cam' or trail camera? Maybe you could see exactly what triggers this behavior.
                            Also, many feed co. change ingridients in the fall/winter, try switching to hay only for a week to see if this is a reaction to something in the feed.
                            Are there any weeds growing in your area that could cause this behavior? Or has your horse been chewing on any surface that could have lead paint, or other toxin?
                            Both of the horses mentioned are mares could it be hormonal?
                            when your horses exibit these symptoms what are there vital signs, gut sounds, what does your vet say?


                            • #34
                              Is there somewhere you could take her thst has a stall with an attached paddock, so she can come and go as she pleases?


                              • Original Poster

                                Thanks for all of the ideas! She's calmed down slowly over the last week or so, so that she's now just pacing and rushing the door when someone's at the barn, not constantly freaking out. She seems to calm down when the barn quiets, as long as she can see a buddy nearby. The logistics are making the barn manager grumpy -- she needs to be in most of the time due to the risk of re-injury in the deep mud we've got now, but he hates keeping another horse in to keep her calm. Tomorrow I'm picking up my new stainless steel stall mirror -- we'll see if an artificial "buddy" will calm the horses and humans alike.

                                I'm afraid the stall/paddock setup doesn't exist at any local barns that I know of. I've got her going out in a small paddock now and then when it's not knee-deep mud, but mostly she's in with hand-walking -- the mud is just too deep, given her injury.

                                Since I can't go back in time and put a camera in place to record the onset of the behavior, I don't think cameras, etc. are of any use. The genesis of this problem will probably always be a mystery -- the goal now is to restore this poor little mare's typically happy, calm demeanor and keep the stall terrors from becoming a deeply entrenched behavioral pattern (if it's not too late!).
                                Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!


                                • Original Poster

                                  PS: GoldPonyRider -- how's it going with yours? Any luck with these tactics? I am sorry to hear you're going through this too -- it's been a nightmare.

                                  Originally posted by GoldPonyRider View Post
                                  Please let me know if you figure anything out and if you are interested I will let you know if anything I try works out.
                                  Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!


                                  • #37
                                    Honestly, it sounds like with her limited turnout, that could EASILY be causing the anxiety/rushing response when she's in her stall.

                                    My mare will settle down once left alone, but if I stall her, she will pace and when she hears me, she will also rush the door and try to run me over when I open it to get out (we have discussions about this adn she doesn't come out until she settles).

                                    When her ulcers flare up, its soooo much worse. Adding that she doesn't like to be stalled...its like a vicious cycle...stalling creates anxiety, which results in an ulcer flareup, which INCREASES her irritable behavior especially in her stall and she turns into a nutty pacing lunatic when stalled.

                                    In addition, decreased turnout/increased stall time has been shown to aggrivate or create ulcers.

                                    I would try a round of ulcer meds and see what happens.
                                    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


                                    • #38
                                      But the sudden onset doesn't jibe with my previous ulcer experiences, and when she's out of the stall she's calm even when she's not focused on other things
                                      See my post above. Actually, horses can develop ulcers quite quickly, and stalling as your mare has been because of the layup absolutely could've caused her to get ulcers during this timeframe. Additionally, my mare settles down once removed from her stall.
                                      "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


                                      • #39
                                        I know nothing about meds - but could she be on a long-term tranq that they give stall bound horses?
                                        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                                        • #40
                                          Could this be hormone related? I've seen mares become so agitated that they chewed through a 2x6 overnight.