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

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  • Original Poster

    #41
    Thanks folks!

    Mare has been on treatment dose of omeprazole since shortly after this started (and has been on sucralfate long-term for prevention/hindgut protection). I don't discount the possibility/probability of ulcers, but have no evidence to support them as the original, sudden cause of her stall terror -- all I can do now is continue the omeprazole. She's also on depo (was flirting a lot when we moved to town but no nasty mare behavior -- vet did a rectal exam of repro organs and then started her on depo this fall to minimize the winking/squirting).

    I would be inclined to suspect a confinement issue in most cases, but for the previous 4-5 years of this horse's life she lived in a 10'x10' stall at an urban barn with no real turnout -- only got exercise by riding/longeing and always seemed at home in her stall. This problem started a good 2 months into her recent stall rest and doesn't seem to be better on the days she goes out, so there's no smoking gun w.r.t. confinement. But like everything else, I can't rule it out 100%. In any case, I'm between a rock and a hard place on the confinement issue, with a soft tissue injury and deep mud in the paddocks. If I were a wealthy farm owner I'd fix her up an in-n-out or a small, dry paddock with a shelter, but as a boarder my options are limited.

    I've heard VERY bad things about some of the drugs used for long-term sedation -- seems like the common ones are repurposed psych drugs. My vet is reluctant to go there, and I tend to be even more conservative about sedation (one bad reaction has generated a lifelong caution).

    Since there seems to be no way to know what is going on internally with this one, I'm just trying to navigate the risks associated with all of my options and restore this little horse's calm as best I can...
    Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!

    Comment


    • #42
      What about using a safer but less potent drug like hydroxyzine (atarax) that is really an antihistamine with sleepiness as a side effect just to take the edge off? There really isn't a lot of risk/downside to that medication other than dry mucous membranes.

      Comment


      • #43
        Hi there, I wanted to follow up with you on this. sorry it has been so long. Right after I posted this, she completely flipped out while I was riding her, hit me in the head and gave me a concussion. It was pretty bad. I have been on the mend since then... that is when I had, had enough and called the vet out. he cant figure it out. did some blood work. ultrasound of her girly parts were fine. he did say that she is anemic and that her thyroid was abnormal. but that should not be causing this sudden onset of weirdness. he thinks the anemia could be from a bleeding ulcer being that she is exhibiting other weird symptoms. So.... we will be treating her for an ulcer once the medicine arrives. he thought about scoping her, but being that she is not really in the right frame of mind, he didnt want her to have to fast or be further stressed out. After the concussion episode, and really no help from the vet, I ended up talking to someone who said that she may have ingested toxins from grain or hay. and, that may be making her nuts. Also, they suggested that she may be magnesium deficient. So, they suggested brewers yeast to remove toxins. And, magrestore for the magnesium deficiency. it has been a few weeks. and, i have noticed a pretty big difference. So, not sure what the deal is, but she seems quieter and much happier. Long term my plan is to get her off of grain and brewers yeaast (she eats about 4lb of oats a day) and put her on equipride (supplement) and timothy pellets. Hope all is well with you x-halt-salute

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        • Original Poster

          #44
          Sounds like you've been through the wringer, GoldPonyRider. Too bad your vet wasn't able to rule things in/out more systematically -- it's always frustrating not to really know what the problem is. But I'm glad to hear she's doing better.

          Mine is still very unhappy in her stall -- digging holes to China and occasionally going into crazy mode and circling around and trying to climb out of the stall. When it gets really bad I just go out and handwalk her until she quiets down, which is a lousy strategy but all I can think to do. Based on the behavioral patterns I'm seeing and the circumstances in which these episodes happen, I think she loses her mind when her visual contact with other horses is reduced. I tried putting up a stall mirror but it seemed to set her off into a stall walking fit so I removed it. Still just trying to get through the prescribed rehab.
          Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!

          Comment


          • #45
            Have you tried a stall guard so she can hang her head out?
            Boss Mare Eventing Blog
            https://www.youtube.com/user/jealoushe

            Comment


            • #46
              This has not been a good winter, that is for sure! I am happy that it is getting a little better, not worse. At the same time, I feel like I am sitting and waiting for the next big blowup. We are very limited to vets in the area. This guy was a real joker. (but that is a whole other story.) so, i feel like I am having to go thru this without a lot of support from him. She used to be ok with a stall guard until the day she figured out that she could bolt thru it. (months ago, before this all started a horse walked by and kicked at her and frightened her...like thats all we needed!). she does do a little better with the door open, so I put up a towing chain with a 5,000 pound breaking point, plus I added a new cloth stall guard so that she cannot go under the chain. I know that is not ideal or really all that safe. my plan is to put a stall chain up (replace the tow chain), if/when we can trust her. with the door open, she is better, but not perfect. there are days that she gets that "look" like she is going to explode at any minute. she paws/digs. mine loved her stall mirror for the 1st week. She went and stood by it when she got nervous and loved on her reflection. And, then she got bored with it. we left it up, but its not really helping anymore.

              At least you are starting to get a handle on what is setting yours off. But, i know that can be hard to solve, especially if you are in a boarding situation.
              if we could only get inside their heads for one day, we could finally solve the mystery. I was so desperate at one point that i almost called a pet psychic. then my husband laughed at me and told me no. but i need to know why my happy horse went to crazy horse!
              I just started to lightly ride again. She has been pretty good and very quiet. she happily does what I ask of her.
              Have you had any riding issues with your horse?

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #47
                UPDATE

                As you may recall, my horse lost her marbles suddenly in January. For the better part of a year, she has been a compulsive box walker. We've been at 3 different barns, tried numerous stall/turnout situations, and tried just about any solution that anyone proposed to us. Her MO is to walk either wall-to-wall or in circles in her stall and to pace or run the fenceline in turnout. At times it is slow, but it frequently escalates to the point where she's lathered with sweat. She's doing wonderfully in training and is easy to handle, but her utter meltdowns when left to her own devices have done my head in.

                This past weekend, on a whim, I picked up a jar of Seroquine supplement at the Equine Affaire and started her on it. She hasn't box walked since I started giving it to her on Saturday. I'm dumbfounded -- mostly because I have little faith in supplements, but also because I haven't seen her rest in her stall in months. It's too soon for me to be convinced that the supplement is doing what it says it's been doing, but just having her settle down is such a relief!

                Has anyone else seen such a dramatic change when supplementing these vitamins/minerals (magnesium, b1, b8, taurine)? I'd eat my hat if a "magic potion" solves this problem, but I really want it to be true!
                Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!

                Comment


                • #48
                  Well, certain deficiencies can manifest themselves as anxiety or hyperactivity, so perhaps that's the case here.
                  Whatever it is, I hope it keeps up both for her sake and your sanity!
                  Keep us posted; I am interested in how she goes long-term.
                  As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.

                  Comment


                  • #49
                    Well, I put the old guy on a B vitamin mag calming supplement without telling my DH and DH noticed a change in his behavior - "are you giving him something new or different? He's much easier for me to handle now". So, if nothing else has changed but the addition of the supplement, maybe it's not a coincidence. Very glad to hear she has calmed down and hope for both your sakes she stays that way!
                    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                    Incredible Invisible

                    Comment


                    • #50
                      Originally posted by x-halt-salute View Post
                      UPDATE

                      As you may recall, my horse lost her marbles suddenly in January. For the better part of a year, she has been a compulsive box walker. We've been at 3 different barns, tried numerous stall/turnout situations, and tried just about any solution that anyone proposed to us. Her MO is to walk either wall-to-wall or in circles in her stall and to pace or run the fenceline in turnout. At times it is slow, but it frequently escalates to the point where she's lathered with sweat. She's doing wonderfully in training and is easy to handle, but her utter meltdowns when left to her own devices have done my head in.

                      This past weekend, on a whim, I picked up a jar of Seroquine supplement at the Equine Affaire and started her on it. She hasn't box walked since I started giving it to her on Saturday. I'm dumbfounded -- mostly because I have little faith in supplements, but also because I haven't seen her rest in her stall in months. It's too soon for me to be convinced that the supplement is doing what it says it's been doing, but just having her settle down is such a relief!

                      Has anyone else seen such a dramatic change when supplementing these vitamins/minerals (magnesium, b1, b8, taurine)? I'd eat my hat if a "magic potion" solves this problem, but I really want it to be true!
                      That seems almost too easy!! Did she have blood work when this all started??
                      Sometimes miracles still happen.

                      Comment


                      • #51
                        Originally posted by x-halt-salute View Post
                        Hi COTH folks,

                        I was called home from conference travel this weekend because while I was away my mare suddenly started box walking fast and furiously and cannot be quieted down (it's now been more than a day and a half). I plan to call a vet during normal work hours (i.e. not Sunday night) if I can't get her to rest, but in the meantime, since I won't be able to sleep tonight, I thought I'd see if anyone here has any experience/ideas that might help.

                        The skinny:
                        • I left Friday mid-day after hand walking her (she's rehabbing from an 8-week-old ligament injury), and got a call at 7a.m. Saturday saying the barn manager found her at breakfast totally undone, lathered with sweat, racing around her stall and could not calm her down -- I came home as quickly as I could. In the meantime the barn manager administered ace (with little effect) and called me periodically with updates.
                        • The mare was (and still is) totally calm and responsive and enjoys attention when not in her stall, but the minute she is returned to her stall she starts walking/jogging around it intently and cannot be distracted from it. She doesn't stop when the lights go out and the barn is quiet -- I don't think she's slept since at least Friday.
                        • She has zero history of stall vices or issues like this -- usually her stall is her happy place and she's typically a pretty mild mannered little thing.
                        • Nothing perceptible to me/others at the barn has changed -- hay, bedding, schedules, facilities, weather have been stable, and no horses/trailers have been in or out in weeks. I travel somewhat often and have the same reliable people keeping her routine for me when I am gone as always.
                        • She is used to stall confinement -- she lived for many years in an urban barn that had zero turnout, and has been characteristically quiet during recent stall rest
                        • She is still eating, drinking, and eliminating normal amounts and her vitals are w.n.r.
                        • I put up a NibbleNet to try to occupy her but she's just snatching little bits as she passes by. If I go in the stall with her she ignores me and keeps going -- she has awesome ground manners normally so this is very out of character.
                        • She looks like she's lost at least 50lbs in the last ~48 hours and I'm worried she may (re)injure herself



                        There are no open stalls at the barn and the manager does not want to make someone else switch with her to see if a different stall would help. This is her first real winter and she's injured, so I don't want to put her out all alone in a snowy/icy paddock. I don't know what else to do! She is acting like she's terrified of the stall itself -- hesitant to enter it (but obedient enough to do so when asked), and wild when left in it. I can't identify any change that could have triggered this.

                        I feel totally helpless. Does anyone have any ideas about how to deal with this sort of situation?
                        ab lib her hay and drop any feedstuff that is high in energy as your feeding her brain and not her body it will take 2 weeksfor it to come out of her system yeat only a couple days to enter it

                        once she off the grub----- then use low energy or cool mix feedstuffs
                        always read the back of the feed packet to see what it contains

                        i have found since being on this site that plenty of b/o use the same grub for all the horses as a basic feed
                        but - one wouldnt feed a shetland the same as race horse and one wouldnt feed a horse the same as one on sick leave

                        each horse type and breed and what ever displine it does should be fed accordingly -

                        so - once she off the grub slowly re introduce it by given her smaller meals little and often so not over facing her, and trial and error till you have happy medium you can work with and dont worry she wont strave at this point of time as long as ab lib the hay

                        try also drilling a hole in a sweed and hang it from the rafters
                        chop up apples and carrots and hide them in her bed to find
                        she properly bored stiff

                        Comment


                        • #52
                          Taurine is converted to Serotonin in the brain. I found that smartcalm ultra (also containing taurine) helped my mare when she was stressed out about being in training again.

                          Comment


                          • #53
                            Working with a stall walker, did the positive reaction to the supplement remain?

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #54
                              Originally posted by Toaster View Post
                              Working with a stall walker, did the positive reaction to the supplement remain?
                              Sorry you're also dealing with stall walking, Toaster.

                              My mare has been doing well since she started the supplement. She's had a couple of one-off episodes where she's stall walking when we get to the barn in the morning and takes a day of handwalking and time out of her stall to quiet her down. But in general, since we've started the supplement it's happened twice in four months, which is much better than the daily/nonstop freakouts that plagued her for most of 2013. I didn't have any blood tests done before I started the supplement so I can't say for sure whether it's solving some deficiency. But it seems to help so I'm keeping her on it for the time being.

                              A friend sent me a Chronicle article recently that actually sounds a lot like my mare (minus the Grand Prix part):
                              http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/...weary-windsong

                              She has collapse episodes like those described in the article, and our vet (or rather, team of vets -- she's that kind of horse) diagnosed her with sleep deprivation long before the stall walking ever started. The collapse episodes cleared up a lot when we treated ulcers, but she still has them now and then. Given the mysterious onset of the stall terror and the fact that it always starts at night, I am starting to wonder if something like the "night terrors" phenomenon mentioned in that article could be what initiates the stall walking for my mare...

                              Anyway, there is still a lot of mystery, but I think the supplement helps. Good luck getting yours some peace!
                              Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!

                              Comment


                              • #55
                                I had a TB mare much like Windsong, but she never collapsed...

                                When I first got her she would not stand still for one second, let alone one minute. I almost went bonkers trying to get this mare to act like a "normal" horse. I tried all kinds of horse feeds, including just plain oats--nothing worked, still too uptight, so I went with a grain balancer pellet and different types of forage products.

                                I tried many supplements, and many holistic and homeopathic products. If I'd known what a long, crazy path it was to become I would have chronicled it!

                                I had my horse for fifteen years until the end of her life--I was at the barn every day and night for hours (sometimes after 10PM). I never saw my mare lay down to sleep. I saw her lay down once in all that time and that's the time she sprained her ankle.

                                I wish TBs came with a manual! I mean a practical manual--not one that pretends these horses have no problems. I was finally able to keep my mare on an even keel but I got the sense she was not really comfortable in her own skin.
                                Last edited by Cherry; Apr. 10, 2014, 03:10 PM.
                                "None of us can move forward if half of us are being held back." ~Anonymous~

                                Comment


                                • #56
                                  My old mare started doing some really odd compulsive behaviors (pacing, extreme distraction, not eating). The only thing that helped was regumate.

                                  Comment


                                  • #57
                                    Originally posted by x-halt-salute View Post
                                    A friend sent me a Chronicle article recently that actually sounds a lot like my mare (minus the Grand Prix part):
                                    http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/...weary-windsong
                                    Thank you for the article. I have a gelding who won't lay down to sleep, which originated with moving to MI from CA several years ago. When he was in CA he lived at my house and he was down and sleeping every night when I went out to do night check.
                                    A few months after moving to MI he developed bad stall behaviours out of the blue, weaving and wall kicking intensely. After a while I noticed that he wasn't laying down to sleep, either, and when he was relaxed in the x-ties he would fall asleep and stumble around or fall. I have tried every imaginable stabling and turnout situations, various calming things, mirrors, ulcer meds etc etc and nothing has fixed the issue. I have wondered very much if he had some type of night terror and that's why he didn't want to lay down and sleep anymore.
                                    This all came to a head about 2 years ago when he fell at his door, where he sleeps, and ended up getting badly cast in the doorway and damaged the nerves in his back. He ended up losing a very significant amount of the muscle in his hindquarters, and he's lucky he isn't dead. Maybe some more supplement tinkering is worth a try.
                                    As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #58
                                      Originally posted by mlb722 View Post
                                      My old mare started doing some really odd compulsive behaviors (pacing, extreme distraction, not eating). The only thing that helped was regumate.
                                      I wish my mare's solution was as easy as Regumate. Tried it at great expense last year to no effect.

                                      For mine, when these episodes happen, the threshold of her stall door is a magical line that on one side holds a calm, even dozy horse and on the other is a terror-stricken panicky monster. I'm pretty sure now that it's not hormones or general "hotness".

                                      If I ever find a way to save up a bit (without vet bills or board increases or other sudden horse expenses raining on my parade) I may reconsider a night vision stall camera to get to the bottom of things.
                                      Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #59
                                        Originally posted by CrowneDragon View Post
                                        Thank you for the article. I have a gelding who won't lay down to sleep, which originated with moving to MI from CA several years ago.
                                        Holy cow. He sounds just like mine (eta: except mine does sometimes lay down). My mare's issue started several months after a move from CA to New England. She has c-spine issues we think are the result of collapsing (used to rest with head over dutch door before we figured out what was happening), and I live in fear of a more serious injury. I hope your guy is doing well! Keep in touch if you figure out anything about the source of the problem or ways to get him relief. I swear some days I could use a support group for owners of sleep disordered horses...
                                        Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!

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