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Horse Almost Fell asleep in crossties as I was tacking up

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  • Horse Almost Fell asleep in crossties as I was tacking up

    I've never seen a horse do this before. I had my horse in crossties as I was tacking him up tonight. Right before I bridled him, his eyes were almost closed, and all of a sudden his knees buckled and he almost fell down. He didn't, thankfully. Then I put his bridle on and he still looked sleepy, eyes half closed. I tightened all the bridle straps, and then about 5 seconds later, his eyes closed and his knees started to buckle again. It was the weirdest thing. He's never done this before. (Can horses have narcolepsy?). Anyway, I took him into the ring and he was fine. He had a good workout yesterday...maybe he was just tired.
    Last edited by ParadoxFarm; Nov. 25, 2011, 07:15 PM. Reason: typo
    “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
    ¯ Oscar Wilde

  • #2
    Could he be having a seizure? Seizures in horses aren't well understood and come in a lot of different forms. It doesn't sound like a typical presentation, but you never know.


    • #3
      Yes, horses can have narcolepsy, it's not terribly common though... has he done it again? Maybe he was just chillin'.


      • Original Poster

        So far this was the first and only time he's done it. And he didn't look distressed at all. Just like he was sleepy. I've had horses close their eyes, or half close them when I tacked them up, but never one to totally close the eyes and knees buckle. And when we were riding, he was fine. I'll keep tabs on it, but wondered if anyone else has had a horse do this. It was kind of funny, as long as he's okay.
        “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
        ¯ Oscar Wilde


        • #5
          Narcolepsy isn't terribly uncommon either, although in horses it is usually sleep deprivation. Do you see him lie down? Or see manure stains indicating he does? I have one that doesn't like to lie down, and he often buckles in his stall or starts to doze and catch himself on the crossties. You will see it again if that's what it is, but make sure the horse has plenty of bedding to encourage him to lie down, and if there are any issues that need injecting, etc. addressing those may help. Or not, and you may just have to live with it, as I do .


          • #6
            YES they can have narcolepsy. I know of a very expensive hunter that kept having "small incidents" then one day he literally tore down the inside of the cross tie stall at a horse show.
            He was given (stupidly) to a large show barn who accepted him, knowing his history, into their lesson program.
            He fell asleep one day standing in a lesson and the child was horribly injured resulting in a negligence law suit.
            Probably more info than you were asking for, but proceed with extreme caution.


            • #7
              i had OTTB with sleep disorder-! no joke. The day after i bought him he fell asleep, his knees buckled, and he hit the barn floor!! I thought he died! However. later through a friend of a friend, I learned this very horse had been her lesson horse. He was known to have the sleep disorder humans have- cant remember the name. He usually would fall asleep when i was tacking him up. Sometimes he would fall and other times he would wake up when i patted him or yelled out to him. Very annoying, especially when the seller was aware and never told me about it. The vet did not have any practical treatment. I had to wrap his legs when stalled because he would fall over and bloody his fetlocks and knees. Good luck!! Be careful that he does not fall asleep in the show ring waiting for ribbons! i would have to keep him awake once he was standing after the line up for the judges.


              • Original Poster

                I would almost think something like narcolepsy would manifest itself more than it has. This has happened once in a month. But I don't know. I'll be careful. I know his previous owner, and he never told me about any problems (I would hope he would have!) so we'll see. I'm just hoping it was a sleepy kind of day.

                I don't know yet if he lies down. I turn them out at night. They're in during the day. I'll try to watch that. He's 8 years old, doesn't seem to be sore anywhere.
                “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
                ¯ Oscar Wilde


                • #9
                  my horse does this as well, but only in the summer and usually when its really hot out or hes just finished a really hard workout. There is no rhythm or reason to it, Ive looked into narcolepsy but it isnt that b/c it only happens part of the year. My horse WILL NOT lay down, EVER. He rolls but then gets right back up. I wont leave him on the crossties if he's quiet but he does it in his stall too, however he usually catches himself before he falls. So I have no answers, only that my OTTB does it too...
                  "to each his own..."


                  • #10
                    OTTB are use to working early in the morning rather than at night or in the evening. He might have gotten a little relaxed during grooming and being his "bed" time, decided to follow his dreams. Anyway, perhaps he just needs time to adjust to the new schedule of H/J

                    Originally posted by ParadoxFarm View Post
                    I've never seen a horse do this before. I have a new (had about a month now) OTTB. I had him in crossties as I was tacking him up tonight. Right before I bridled him, his eyes were almost closed, and all of a sudden his knees buckled and he almost fell down. He didn't, thankfully. Then I put his bridle on and he still looked sleepy, eyes half closed. I tightened all the bridle straps, and then about 5 seconds later, his eyes closed and his knees started to buckle again. It was the weirdest thing. He's never done this before. (Can horses have narcolepsy?). Anyway, I took him into the ring and he was fine. He had a good workout yesterday...maybe he was just tired.


                    • #11
                      Horses don't need a lot of deep sleep, but they need some every day and they have to lie down to get this deep sleep. They can doze/nap standing up but for the real restorative sleep they have to lie down. If he doesn't feel secure enough to get the required amount of this sleep he may be getting to a point of exhaustion. Where you have only had him a month, he may not have settled in enough yet to get as much real sleep as necessary.
                      2016 RRP Makeover Competitor www.EnviousBid.com


                      • #12
                        I'd put a vote in for sleep deprivation. We also had a OTTB who after the first full 2 days on full 24/7 turnout, almost drop to his knees while standing in the crossties. I don't think the poor soul knew it was ok to sleep outside. Brought him in for a couple hours where he would pass out during the day, than slowly weaned him back to less and less stall sleep time and onto 24/7 turnout with my grandmotherly Belgian mare who is always stands guard and is the last to lay down and sleep. He figured it out and it was never seen again.

                        I'd check to make sure he feels "safe" enough to sleep for a good block of time, next to (or out with if on TO) a watch buddy. And that he has some quiet time and a comfortable place to pass out at night (not living next to an antagonist or chronic stall kicker/cribber/stall walker, no radio on.. just quiet on a nice comfy bedded stall or run-in.)

                        Like everyone said, narcolepsy in horses does certainly happen, but much more likely is sleep deprivation.


                        • #13
                          I've actually seen this a handful of times... Did it happen pretty soon after you tightened his girth? Most horses that I have seen do this, its not to long after the girth is tightened, what fixed it was making sure to slowly and gradually tighten the girth, like put it up a hole... go back to doing something else, then put it up another hole... and so forth.
                          I once heard someone say that there is a nerve where the girth is that in some horses can get pinched and cause this behavior I have NO CLUE if thats actually true, haha, might just be one of those odd horsie rumors, but almost all the horses that I have seen do this, except 1, were cured by having the girth tightened this way. The one exception would do this every once in a while during a ride if she was allowed to stop work for a while and doze off in the middle of the ring sometimes her knees would buckle and she would almost go down!
                          Either way goodluck!
                          the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
                            in horses it is usually sleep deprivation. Do you see him lie down? Or see manure stains indicating he does?
                            I was dealing with a horse that wouldn't lay down for awhile and he got so exhausted that he would fall asleep in the crossties and almost fall down. I solved the problem by moving him to a different stall (pipe corral to stall with run) and I always make sure there is tons of bedding.
                            Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                            Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"


                            • #15
                              An old appaloosa (who was entirely too smart, as aged appies tend to be) used to do this to people who were new to him to see what kind of a reaction he would get. Apparently, the larger the reaction the more entertaining it was, because the people who would run down the barn aisle yelling were the people it happened to repeatedly. When I rode him, I didn't know about narcolepsy, so when his knees started to buckle I gave him two swift slaps under the belly and told him to get up (because I thought he was going to have a nice nap in the barn aisle).

                              Rather peeved, he stood up and never tried the little "game" with me again. I don't know your horse's personality, but if he's a bit mischievous and tends to have little "games" this may be one of them.


                              • #16
                                My friend used to own a narcoleptic horse. He had to wear special neoprene boots on his knees in his stall because he'd just fall down. It was the weirdest thing but the vet said it was narcolepsy...


                                • #17
                                  I had a narcoleptic TB. He would buckle and go down in his stall or in the crossties, but never while being ridden. He could stand for pinning without a problem too. But 15 or 20 minutes without being asked to do something, and the wobbling started. Sometimes he would sit like a dog, then go down in front, sometimes do downward-facing-dog and then fall over; it just varied. He was arousable with a few slaps on the shoulder/chest/belly when he was in the crossties, so he never went down there but I never left him alone, either. The weirdest thing was that you could drop him in a second by putting an ear puffy in his right ear and massaging it around. Boom. So I'm sure there was some sort of neurological wiring issue going on.


                                  • #18
                                    I think this must run in TBs. Had a OTTB mare who did this in her stall. Several times barn staff said they heard her crashing down in the stall only to witness her getting up off the ground. They fall asleep and their legs buckle. Vet said it was prob narc.


                                    • #19
                                      Been there, done that...

                                      I, too, had an Appendix mare that would do this. I had had her since she was 8, but it didn’t manifest until she was about 18. During hot summer days in Oklahoma, she would just buckle at the knees out of nowhere while in the crossties. To my knowledge, she never did it in the stall or pasture, just while being groomed. When I noticed she was going to go down, I could smack her on the chest a little and make noise and she would perk back up. She never actually went all the way down. Keeping a fan blowing in front of her also seemed to help. Once tacked up and working she had plenty of energy and didn’t display any sign there was a problem.

                                      My vet didn’t really have an answer, and since he didn’t seem concerned, I wasn’t. When DH and I got married and moved, I decided to leave her with my trusted trainer as a school horse (since it wasn’t a problem under saddle). About a year later when she was 22, she had an incident during a summer lesson where she went down with a little kid on her. My trainer pulled her out of the lesson program at that point (obviously…) and retired her on her farm.

                                      Around the same time, she started having major full body seizures. The vet put her on several different medications, and nothing seemed to work. She couldn’t be in a stall, or turned out with anyone, and it was dangerous for anyone to be around her…1200 lbs of thrashing is really dangerous! Eventually Trainer decided the best thing to do was to donate her to Oklahoma State’s vet school where they could do MRIs and whatnot…and hopefully learn a lot in the process. I don’t even want to know how much she must have spent on medications and treatments to that point…

                                      Unfortunately we never found out the results, as when she was en route to OSU at a layover facility, she had another major seizure, and the guy who was hauling her made the executive decision to have her put down.

                                      My guess is that it was some sort of brain tumor. She’d also had some slight vision loss in one eye.

                                      What a good mare she was…miss her everyday.


                                      • #20
                                        Another thing -- did it happen soon after you put the girth on? Some horses have a thing where the girth can pinch a nerve behind the front leg, and it will cause them to buckle/collapse once the girth goes on. The solution is to put the girth on very loosely and walk forward immediately, tighten a hole or two and walk forward, continue until the girth is tight. My old jumper developed this condition around age 9 and did it the rest of his riding career, couldn't even put a girth on him while on the crossties or he would collapse to the ground. Weird but easy easy easy to deal with.

                                        If he seems to be getting enough sleep (I knew my horse was not narcoleptic after a full vet workup, and he loved taking long naps and only did this thing when the girth went on/until he could walk forward so it wasn't exhaustion) I would at least consider this alternative. My vet diagnosed him with this nerve thing after watching me tack him up a few times and putting the girth on too quickly. She said it is more common that you think, often people think horses are just being naughty or wily and punish them when really they think it is like hitting their funny bone. Try a fleece girth too, can't hurt and mine preferred that though still, never put it on on the crossties and always tightened slowly with lots of walking.

                                        I would have a full vet workup first, of course, to rule out any of the other problems discussed above. Your horse sounds more sleep-oriented but just wanted to toss this out there since it happens more than you'd think, according to my vet.

                                        ETA -- didn't see jumpinbean's post above so sorry to repeat the same info twice, but obviously I agree!
                                        Last edited by fordtraktor; May. 23, 2011, 09:04 PM.