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Has anyone ever experienced anything like this with a horse?

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  • Has anyone ever experienced anything like this with a horse?


    I am new to the forum, very experienced with horses and have trained dressage and hunter/jumpers. This past Monday, I had to euthanize a 3 1/2 year old filly. She was a "gift" to myself after rescuing 14 horses and 751 dogs. The filly came from out-of-state and was said to have a good temperament and that both sire and dam had good temperaments. She came from a breeding farm. The filly had never been under saddle, but was said to be calm and easy to load.

    The morning the transporters arrived with the filly was horrible. As soon as the shipper drove up, they told me "your horse is insane" (not what you want to hear). They said that it took 2 1/2 hours to load her and that the owners were afraid of her. They also stated that she would rear straight up and several times they thought she would flip over backwards. The owners were said to have "given her treats" every she swung her rear end towards them, and yet one owner became so frustrated trying to load the filly that she ended up "prodding her with a pitchfork". They said the filly had been stomping the entire 26 hour transport and that her eyes were "nuts". They warned me that the filly was crazy and then unloaded her.

    The transporters then led the filly out and she truly looked like a bomb about to go off. Her eyes were "crazy" and she was extremely tense. It was obvious the transporters were afraid of what she might do, and at that point, I was getting very concerned. The filly refused to walk forward, and would occasionally rear and threaten to bolt in the opposite direction. To keep her from running into traffic, I put a 30 ft long line on the filly and stood on her right, while one transporter stood on her left. With gentle encouragement and plenty of space, the filly finally took 2 steps forward and then bolted. We could not hold her and both had to let go let go. She stopped next to the fence and we thought everything would be ok as the horses were just on the other side of the fence. However, she suddenly plunged through the smooth wire fence and started running. She proceeded to run through 11 fences (including an aluminum gate), and somersaulted at least 6 times. She sometimes went through fences at a trot, sometimes at a canter. She finally got hung upside down and stopped. Miraculously, she was still alive and not mortally wounded. She allowed me to free her, but then would not walk forward into the pasture. We had cut a section of fence and cleared it completely so that she would have room, but she continued to refuse to move forward. The head of the transport company arrived and was able to back her into the pasture and then had to back her all the way to the barn area (about 200 yards), because she would not walk forward. The vet arrived and her most serious wound on her chest/foreleg was stitched and a drain put in. She was given antibiotics/painkillers etc. For the next 2 1/2 weeks she respected the fences and acted almost like a normal horse. She was difficult to doctor, but that wasn't surprising given the situation and that her wound was painful. At one point, she did jump through a round pen panel, when cornered by the dominant gelding, but otherwise went through open gates and did not test fences.

    Last Saturday, I arrived to find that she had gone through an interior fence, no one knows why. She hit it with so much force that 6 sections of fence came down and the t-posts (which were all capped with safety caps) were all bent at a 90 degree angle. The filly was not injured and seemed "normal" that day. On Monday, after I haltered her, she reared, spun to the right and took off. I caught her twice and each time she would immediately rear, spin and bolt again. While running loose, she avoided fences and ran with her two pasturemates in a "calm" manner. Suddenly, while running with them, she swerved to the left (for no obvious reason) and went straight through the fence. To be clear, she left her buddies and had to do a 90 degree turn to find a fence to run into. They had been cantering in a wide-open area and it was incredibly bizarre behavior. She continued a slow gallop and ran into a 6 inch wood post with her right shoulder. I have video of her cantering around that same post three days prior. She hit the post with so much force that it moved 4 inches, even though it was sunk 3 feet in the ground. She ran a little further, stopped and seemed quite calm. I approached her and when caught, she again reared, spun and bolted. She cantered around and then ran into one of her pasturemate's hindquarters, and then stopped. She suddenly started running again, went through another fence and then went through the final fence and basically skinned her leg 360 degrees to the tendons. She continued cantering even though her foreleg skin was hanging about a foot and flapping below her knee. She finally stopped and stood calmly while I approached her and moved her to a small pen of round pen panels. One vein in her leg was bleeding profusely and I was afraid that she was about to bleed out. Let me stress that at no point in any of this did I get rough with her or act aggressive in any manner. I have trained many horses and do best with the sensitive breeds. I have never in my life known of a horse to act like this. It was insane. Anyway, while she didn't bleed out, her leg wound was catastrophic, and I made the agonizing decision to have her euthanized. Because it was obvious that no fence could hold her, she was a potential danger to cars and people walking. She ran into my gelding when there was plenty of room to go around him. I pictured her breaking through the perimeter fence and running into a car or person or house or anything else. This was the toughest decision that I ever made, but I saw and still see that there was no other alternative because she could not be safely contained on the property and I didn't know of any property that could safely contain her, since even 5 ft round pen panels wouldn't stop her.

    The filly had been eating alfalfa/grass mix before she arrived and was changed to straight grass hay and to good pasture at my place. No grain was given. Originally, I thought the alfalfa hay was solely responsible for her behavior upon arrival and she was certainly much less frightening on the grass hay and less reactive. I have seen horses that go nuts from alfalfa and was hoping that the behavior would never return. However, she did run through 3 fences while eating straight grass hay and pasture, so obviously something else was going on as well. On Monday, while she running through the fences, it lacked the frantic insanity of the first day and was almost more frightening due to how calm she appeared while choosing to run into fences, a post, and another horse.

    The filly was vaccinated for rabies before she arrived and I have to wonder if it affected her. When I vaccinated my two geldings, one literally went crazy within 24 hours and became extremely dangerous to handle (spinning, rearing, whirling and kicking). The gelding returned to normal after a holistic vet recommended treatment with Thuja (it works!)

    Please do not attack me for this decision. It will haunt me the rest of my life as it is, and I am beyond devastated about this. My "dream" horse turned into a horrible nightmare literally within seconds of arriving. The day she arrived and wreaked so much havoc, the transporters kept apologizing that they had not called me when they tried to load her and thought that she was totally crazy. Certainly, I was told that a well-bred, calm, sane horse was arriving and cannot conceive of anyone deliberately sending such a dangerous horse on a transport. The breeder claims that the filly was wonderful until the transporters "did something to her", but the transporters were forthcoming as soon as they pulled in that there was something terribly wrong with this filly. I do not for a second believe that the transporters did anything to her, as they were too busy taking turns driving and sleeping. Also, the transporters stayed for 4 hours to help and the two horses left on the trailer were extremely calm the entire time. Something was wrong in this poor filly's head and I need to make sense of this (if sense can be made).

  • #2
    Wow - cannot offer any insight but you get no judgement from me. It definitely sounds like this horse was messed up in the head, for whatever reason. I think you made a wise decision.
    My CANTER cutie Chip and IHSA shows!


    • #3
      I wonder if she had vision issues and/or neurological issues?


      • Original Poster

        Thanks To the Max.


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by artisticgold View Post
          I wonder if she had vision issues and/or neurological issues?
          Hi artistic gold.
          I do wonder about her vision and brain. She would act as if her vision was fine and avoid the very fences she later ended up going through. The day she arrived, as 3 of us helplessly watched her plow through fence after fence, we wondered if she was blind. However, at times, she would attempt to "jump" the fences (and the gate), but not clear them. Her eyes were definitely insane that first day, and she almost appeared to be hallucinating. The moment she was unloaded, she stopped and stared at the two horses on the premises. Staring at them, eyes bugging out of her head and refusing to move in their direction. They were in the second pasture, so that she could be led in the first pasture quietly but she just stared at them and shook. I have handled stallions in the past and never before handled a horse that needed a person on both sides. With her, I felt that was the only option since she was refusing to move forward and was going up and back. I keep second-guessing myself, but I don't know if there is a right answer in a situation like this. There is always the thought, "What if I had....", but I don't know if anything would have made a difference.


          • #6
            Frankly, I don't know of anyone who would blast you for your decision. It sounds to me like the mare would have done herself in, with absolutely no sense of self-preservation. A ticking time bomb. My condolences, and I'm sorry you had to go through such a horrible and bizzare experience.


            • #7
              I owned this filly's twin. He was a foal I had purchased in-utero, and was foaled here. All full and half-siblings were amazing show horses, and I still own a half-sibling.

              From day 1 this colt was wrong in the head. I have all solid pipe rail and he'd run full tilt into it over and over and over again. The fence always won. Never any clue what set him off - never any reaction from the other horses - never any attempt to go over or around. Some days he was dog gentle and some days you'd go in the stall and he was so terrified he'd break into a sweat and start throwing himself into the fence. I stuck it out for 2 years before putting him down.

              Some times things just go wrong and it's no one's fault.


              • #8
                After reading GaitedinCali's post, then perhaps there was some lack of oxygen to the brain either while in the womb or during the birthing process. There is a reason why twins are not usually successful.

                I am sorry to hear that both of you lost young horses, but you both did the right thing. And OP, the breeder knew that this filly was not safe. I am not sure you can take an legal action but it would be a shame to be out the purchase price, shipping, the vet calls, the "appointment" and all the wood for the fencing she took out.


                • #9
                  What a nightmare. My first thought was Rabies, but if that was ruled out, then something neurological?
                  Don't second guess yourself. you did the only thing you could do. She would have fatally injured herself sooner or later, and may have hurt a person eventually.
                  It would be interesting if you could have had a necropsy done of her brain.


                  • #10
                    I would have been very interested in a necropsy report. Something was seriously wrong with that filly. You did the right thing, no doubt about it.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jetsmom View Post
                      What a nightmare. My first thought was Rabies, but if that was ruled out, then something neurological?
                      Don't second guess yourself. you did the only thing you could do. She would have fatally injured herself sooner or later, and may have hurt a person eventually.
                      It would be interesting if you could have had a necropsy done of her brain.
                      Totally agree with this. And would add that, in my opinion, she would have hurt a person sooner rather than later. Even the sanest and most gentle horses can still pose tremendous liabilities.
                      Since I assume her chest wound was treated and she was euthanized by a vet, what were his/her theories of what may have been possible causes for the behaviors?
                      "And I will be an embarrassment to all
                      Who have not found the peace in being free
                      to have a horse as a best friend."


                      • #12
                        What a horrifying and sad story! From your description, it sounds like this horse had some serious brain damage, with the moments of lucidity then turning to the bizarre incidents of running through multiple fences, etc.

                        I don't believe those breeders for a minute....sounds like they never did anything with her because they were scared of her. I would contact gaitedincali for more info on this filly's twin, and armed with that, ask for at least your purchase price refunded. I think you were KNOWINGLY sold a very dangerous animal. Thank God no other animals or people were harmed-or worse! A look at the brain tissue might have been helpful-not a pleasant thought, but could provide some answers.

                        My sympathies to you, one of my horses suffered a catastrophic pasture injury to her leg, in February, had to be euthanized an hour later, and it is devastating to witness. It does take some time to heal from that. {{{Hugs}}} from one who knows how difficult that is...


                        • #13
                          I had a horse rear up and go after my horse in a small warm up arena. I actually was so scared I cried-I'm not a cryer-and my horse never went into that arena again calmly. The woman rode the horse and lunged the horse for 5 hours and it never changed. The woman was asked to never bring that horse back.

                          Some horses are better being put down. I'm not even pro-slaughter but 1200 pounds of insane horse is simply dangerous for everyone and really there are so many sweet horses put down for lack of care.Thank you.


                          • #14
                            Sounds like a serious neurological problem-not rabies (and no, the vaccine couldn't have caused it), but something. Restricted oxygen in the womb, brain tumor, who knows, but I can't see what else you'd do with a horse like that if you don't have a teaching hospital that wants to dissect her and you don't have carnivores to feed. Too many horses in the world needing homes to spend resources on one that's determined to kill itself and doesn't care who they take with them.
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                            • #15
                              Wow. That's all I can say. Kudos to you for trying as long as you did. Sorry she wasn't your dream horse. But that at least means she's still out there waiting for you. I hope you find her.

                              Hell hath no fury like the chestnut thoroughbred mare


                              • #16
                                I think you absolutely did the right thing. This filly sounded very dangerous. It wasn't worth the risk of having her crazy behavior end up hurting someone very badly.

                                There are absolutely times when putting a horse down is the right thing to do. This was one of them.

                                If it makes you feel any better, I know of one situation where a horse was put down because of his deliberate and dangerous attacks on people. This particular horse had good breeding but ended up being a bit of a nut-case. Talented, but nutty. One day the trainer was putting him out in his pasture and when she turned to go back out, this horse turned around and kicked her full-bore with both hind legs. People who witness this said it was absolutely clear that he went after her.

                                Fortunately she was able to recover from her injuries, but they were pretty severe and required a a serious hospital stay which included surgery.

                                That horse got put down because it wasn't worth another serious accident or possibly someone's life from a repeat of that.


                                • #17
                                  We had a filly like that 40 years ago.
                                  She was not quite right when we weaned here and the vet examined her and could not find anything.
                                  As a long yearling she went thru the brush and maybe bounced off one fence, we had to tend to several light cuts on her chest and neck and on a hind leg.
                                  While under sedation to sew her leg, she kicked out and cut the vet's scalp and he finished and we had to take him to the hospital to be sown himself.

                                  Later, while tending to her cuts, she pulled loose and went thru the yard fence and ripped half the stitches loose, but the vet didn't think redoing them would help.
                                  All that healed fine.

                                  We debated if to euthanize her, when a friend said she would take her and try to start her under saddle.
                                  We thought it was crazy, but she insisted and took her.
                                  Several months later she finally had her euthanized, as she said she kept going thru fences like they were not there.

                                  Just like with people, some horses just are not mentally stable.
                                  There is nothing anyone can do and definitely not put others at risk keeping such horses around.
                                  I think that a necropsy may not show but gross brain abnormalities, but it would have been interesting to have followed thru with one to see if there was something missing there.


                                  • #18
                                    I don't think gaitedincali literally has the mare's twin but just had a youngster with a similar issue... I'd be curious to know if either of you had a necropsy done and what of anything was found.

                                    Sounds like you did the right thing OP. What a nightmare and I'm so sorry. I just bought a youngster sight unseen and what you describe is the absolute worst case scenario. Take comfort in the fact that you were able to give her the peace that her breeder was unwilling to give her.


                                    • #19
                                      I wish a necropsy would have been done.

                                      I have heard of slightly similar circumstances with horses with Cerebellar Abiotrophy with regards to be unsafe in fencing and environmental changes.

                                      So sorry for your dream-turned-nightmare.
                                      Semi Feral


                                      • #20
                                        I am so sorry you and the horse had to go through this. You did the absolute right thing for you and the horse. I know when the vet got there you had your hands full with the injuries did they by chance do a blood test then? A necropsy and blood test would have been a good idea just so you could tell the seller and the shipper for future knowledge of yours too.

                                        Just brain storming here so be kind. I have had horses all my life and have never had anything so traumatic or perplexing happen. A combination of things maybe...

                                        Could it have been a reaction to a IV drug the seller gave horse prior to leaving? Yes the Rabies shot could be it too. If it was a reaction to a drug given before hauling then it would have been having the reaction the entire 26 hours. If the horse was hauled 26 hours usually a vet has to do a health certificate and look over the horse so it was fine then?

                                        I had a friend buy a horse and he was wonderful. Calm, sweet and perfect. A well trained dressage horse. They brought him home and I was there to help unload him. He was crazy, wide eyed and tried to bolt. He came off trailer like a bullet and we barely could hold him. He was a TB 16.2 hands and with all the adrenaline in his body he was fierce looking and veins popping. Walked him and tried to settle him. Finally stalled him. It was only about a three hour trailer ride. It was dark when they got home. So new place, new trailer and new people. But he was already upset when he arrived throwing himself around in trailer whole ride.

                                        Next day he was running around like crazy screaming and hollering in his own pasture wouldn't settle. No fence running through like you went through. That night they called me said he was really off and worse. I went over there and he was shaking, pouring sweat in his stall, eyes wide, trying to get out and super pushy. I told her I had never seen it in my horses but thought he was tying up. Vet arrived and that is exactly what was happening and had been. Stress related. Vet explained that when they tie up it releases toxins in their body and if they don't calm down it can do a lot of damage to their system. I know it seems so simple but if the horse had been so stressed and was tying up for the entire 26 hour ride could it be the toxins, adrenaline and stress was just too much? Does cause neurological damage if untreated due to the toxins? I can't remember what he said they were called specifically but it wasn't good at all.

                                        What is they gave the filly ace to load her and she had a reaction and tying up?

                                        It is very possible it was all just too much. Just throwing some ideas out there.
                                        So sorry for your pain and you will really never know what happened. But I have a feeling the seller knows and isn't telling IF it isn't something medically that was wrong with the horse.