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Horse Dropping to Knees while being ridden

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  • Horse Dropping to Knees while being ridden

    A friend asked for any comment on this ... 5 YO OTTB (they think) gelding; new to the riding facility; nothing of his background is known.

    Her description: "everything was fine for the first ten
    minutes, he was listening (mostly)... [we]reverse[d], and we'd gone maybe half way around [the arena] and I was bringing him off the rail into the center, and he went down. His legs buckled slowly, and he kept "treading" on his knees, with his nose in the dirt, per everyone watching. I .. got him back up, ... Checked his girth, he was fine, no problems. Got back on
    him, and he started throwing his head and sidestepping everywhere. I got off of him. That was my ride. * * *
    People said it just looked like he fell asleep...."

    I suggested a full vet exam as it sounds physical to me. But any comments welcome.

  • #2
    I don't know if it will help or not, but I had a 26 yr old guy come to me as a companion and the owner wanted to have him still be ridden lightly. The horse had been gamed, evented, pony-clubbed, and even fox hunted till he came to me. I did ride him lightly-mostly just trails for 2 yrs. He did stumble on occasion but when he hit 29, he started going down to his knees at a walk. At first I attributed it to high grass in the fields but when it happened the 2nd time on a short groomed surface I stopped riding him. A yr later, both back suspensories went. We could see it coming slowly even when he came to me at 26. We guessed that because he was hurting behind, he put his weight on the front end, which caused his tripping and finally going down to his knees.

    I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


    • #3
      Sounds neurological. Lyme Disease damage, narcolepsy, epilepsy, spine/nerve damage; I am sure there are many other possibilites. Only a vet can say. I assume there will be a full vet consulation?
      Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


      • #4
        It's possible he's narcoleptic. A vet exam is a good idea.

        I hope he's okay!
        Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!


        • #5
          I saw my very own mare apparently fall asleep while the farrier was working on a front leg; when she started to go down he dropped the leg he was holding up and got the heck out of her way and she went down to her knees. And once she's pulled what seemed to be the same stunt while I was riding her at a walk--it was like she started and woke up and stumbled all at the same time--at any rate, one minute we were moseying and the next I was on the ground. Those were the only two times this has happened. Nobody got hurt either time. Its not like she doesnt get a chance to sleep, either, I've caught her flat out as well as recumbent lots of times. And she drowses plenty on her feet, too. Weird.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks for the responses so far!

            msj - wow! I never thought of that! Poor ol' guy, but thanks for the input .. I'll definitely pass it along.

            AnotherRound - I hope there will be a full exam, too, but am doubtful. The horse is not my friend's; it belongs to the riding facilty. Seems like they buy horses through a horse trader for as little as possible; I don't think they even vet them before purchase and know not alot is spent on them after they are purchased. They aren't kept horribly, but the conditions aren't 5*. They are lightly ridden. That's about all I know. I'll pass on your thoughts to my friend as well - who knows maybe she can convince them to do a full work up.

            jenm - that's one of the things I was thinking of!

            jeano-I've heard of horses falling asleep with the farrier ... very rarely do I hear of it happening when they are being ridden!


            • #7
              We had a cross bred Shetland /Arabian gelding who was a rescue case. We knew the horse trader where he came from and the son of that man said his dad had taken a 2x4 to the horse for some real or imagined wrong doing.
              He ended up at our farm and was very happy to be with our ponies and horses and being treated kindly. He loved the children and my second daughter rode him out on the trails. One day he just dropped to his knees and fell over on his side. My daughter stepped off when he went down and waited for him to gather his wits and get up. He seemed to have a peti-mal seizure.
              I asked the people who knew his history about his falling down and they said he never did it before.
              My vet checked him out and said in his opinion the pony had a concussion and perhaps brain damage from the beating he took.
              He seemed to do better for a while and then it happened again three times in less than a week.
              So he went to a lady who wanted him for a companion for her old horse.
              Get a vet check on this horse. It could be a pinched nerve or ?.
              Be careful with him until you get a prognosis.
              There are so many things it could be.
              Too bad.
              Kind regards, L


              • #8
                Long time ago we had a horse in Pony Club who fell asleep during lessons...
                I recommended they not ride him until he was seen and it turned out he was described as narcoleptic. This is very different to the dropping down when standing around when they fall asleep an tumble..these horses only do it when trying to fall asleep., not while being ridden.
                Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                • #9
                  I have seen one do that because he had a huge worm load, and a bellyache.
                  ... _. ._ .._. .._


                  • #10
                    He didn't just stumble coming up off the rail and catch himself on his knees for a few strides? I have seen that happen a lot at the track with babies.
                    Shop online at


                    • #11
                      I'd have the vet do a neurological work up on the horse, if he were mine. There are many things it could be. Better check it out. Better safe than sorry.

                      Good luck.


                      • Original Poster

                        Thanks everyone, I'll pass on the suggestions/comments.

                        Just to reiterate, this is not my friend's horse; it's a horse she rides at a lesson barn. The barn owner does not necessarily want to get a vet out, but hopefully wtih EVERYONE saying a vet check is imparative, she'll get off her duff and get one out there.

                        vbunny, no, according to my friend, he didn't stumble, he just went straight down. They had already turned off rail at a walk and were walking the other direction when he fell. She also says he's not unbalanced and goes easily both directions.

                        Sure hope they can figure out what's going on with him!


                        • #13
                          I had a QH with HYPP do that. Also PSSM is a possibility.
                          The thing about smart people, is they look like crazy people, to dumb people.


                          • #14
                            Search the forum for "vagus", as in vagus nerve in previous posts. There's a problem that exists.

                            here's a quote from another forum: "The vagal nerve is a large parasympathetic nerve that runs right under the girth area. Parasympathetic nerves slow systems down. When the vagal nerve is stimulated it decreases the heart rate which lowers the blood pressure and can cause the horse to faint (or almost so). This is more common in thin skinned breeds. To prevent the horse fainting you have to get his heart rate up but walking him a short way inbetween tightening the girth. Cinch up a bit, walk, cinch up more, walk. Just a few steps will do it."

                            Since you say this horse is new to your facility, it could be as simple as a poor fitting saddle/girth. Hopefully that's all it is but a vet visit is a good idea.


                            • #15
                              my first thought was saddle pressure on withers / spine. Obviously get the freaking vet out, but that is something they could check right now on their own.

                              You keep saying it's not her horse, she just rides there. Sorry but she clearly can see the problem, knows their habits and knows that they deprive horses of needed vet care. So she can't say she wasn't aware. And yet she still supports them by paying?

                              She needs to find a new stable, because you can't have it both ways. Can't say I'm not guilty but then keep giving the guilty party money to keep doing what they're doing.