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Epilepsy in a near blind elderly horse. Experiences?

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  • Epilepsy in a near blind elderly horse. Experiences?

    I have recently taken on a 25 yr old TB with cataracts; his vision is not completely gone but is quite impaired. His hearing might not be great either. He's a darling old guy and his owner loves him dearly and is currently away visiting family in Spain.
    On the 27 of June(Sunday) at 1:00pm I watched him drop to the ground in his paddock and I jumped through the fence to see him paddling fore and aft, teeth clenching and clacking, eyes rolled and third eyelid engaged all lasting about 30 seconds then nothing. The next instant he was up and listing to one side stumbling and then he took off and ran back and forth pretty much unstoppable until the vet arrived. He was wringing wet and I could see that his heart was trip-hammering, he finally settled enough to be restrained and examined. Owner was called in Spain and will be back on Saturday this week. If she wants to keep going with this old fella the vet brought up Phenobarbital, potassium bromide, etc., does any one have any experience with this? I'd appreciate your thoughts.

  • #2
    Got to say with multiple problems already and then this that it sounds like it's time to say goodbye to the old guy.

    Epilepsy in a horse is VERY difficult to manage. (dangerous for handler and horse)


    • #3
      Epilepsy in horses is rather rare as a primary diagnosis, most common would be from other, like liver failure, some kind of encephalitis, etc.

      Since a vet already examined the horse, I am sure that was taken into consideration already.


      • #4
        That's exactly what I thought too and with blindness and deafness it makes me wonder if there's not something much more sinister going on.


        • Original Poster

          Absolutely agree with you Thomas; I cannot say for sure what will be decided for him when his owner comes back and I must say too that as much as I adore this sweet old horse; I don't want him to suffer needlessly because his sensory deficits may be stressing him to the point of having seizures either. I will be very careful around him; this afternoon he looked like he was getting worked up so I coaxed him into his stall and closed him in hoping for him to calm down, which he has. On his best days, he's got a lot of pluck for an oldtimer and not a lot of ground manners. What is/has caused the seizure is not known and may never be diagnosed; he may never have another. But for now I am choosing how I do things around him very carefully and monitoring his behaviour closely for any signs of a repeat event.


          • #6
            I have seizures, and I have a dog with them too. In both cases, it's been due to head injury (dog got kicked, I fell off horse). In my case, there are also some medication issues, and stress too.

            It's had enough to manage in humans, even with the multitude of drugs available. In dogs, it's a bit easier because you can give phenobarbital, and you don't care too much if the dog gets sleepy, and if they fall it's not that big a deal.

            I cannot begin to imagine putting a horse and handler through that. It's going to be VERY dangerous for you as the handler, to the point where if it were me I would flat refuse to care for him any longer. Obviously give the owner a little bit of time, but you cannot put yourself at risk. Getting the drugs to the right levels can take a while, and withdrawal can cause the seizures to start up again.

            In a horse that aged and with that many other issues, it's time to let him go peacefully. Seizures can be VERY disorienting. I have been told that afterwards I am confused, sometimes cannot talk. My little dog gets confused, stumbles around, and then gets very very hyperactive. If he's already got questionable ground manners, the last thing you want is a confused, stumbling horse with questionable ground manners who could fall on you.

            Seizures can also come in clusters, where the person or animals finishes with one and then has another shortly thereafter. Just something to be aware of. I have had them like that, as has the little dog.


            • #7
              To me, blindness + deafness + seziures + old horse most likely = brain tumor. Of course, it definitely could be something else, but with *so* many signs that point to a problem in the brain, that's probably what it is.

              The phenobarb and KBr may control his seizures, or they may not. It takes a while to build up levels of phenobarb in the blood in the first place, and sometimes tumors grow faster than the anti-convulsants can help.

              Seizures in horses are so dangerous...given everything else that is going on with the pony, I would lead towards euthanasia. Otherwise, he may hurt someone else (horse or human), or catastrophically hurt himself and need to be put down anyway.


              • Original Poster

                This in my heart I know is the right thing for him.
                A year ago today almost to the minute I was waiting for the vet to get here because my Clumpy wouldn't touch his dinner. We lost him post surgery late evening July1,2009. My Mischief I also lost 6 months before that. I know this sweet old guy is a ticking time bomb for himself or someone else but I know that his owner will be embarking on a tough journey that many here have also traveled. And I really feel for her.


                • #9
                  Just made this decision tuesday for an old girl. Hugs to all of you.


                  • #10
                    There is a time to say good bye and the owner should do it as soon as possible. As the others said, it is a very risky situation.
                    Even if he seems to feel better inside, not sure I would like having a horse seizing in a stall... I don't know...
                    ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                    Originally posted by LauraKY
                    I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
                    HORSING mobile training app


                    • #11
                      We had a neighbour that had a really old horse that was having seizures......just like you described.......the horse ended up hurting itself during one of the seizures that I helped administer antibiotics via IM.....the horse recovered only to seizure and go through the fence and over the bank to its death.

                      I would say that it is time to say good bye to the old guy before he seriously hurts himself or somebody else.