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What happens when a horse is down for a long time?

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  • #21
    LE, if the old guy went down for a nap in the afternoon I wouldn't let the sun set on him. That's as close to a time guideline as I have. So that'd be about three hours at this time of year.

    I don't know either whether it's the going down for the oldsters that is so damaging, or if they have already lost their resilience and the inability to get up is a symptom or a combo of the two. I do know that I've discussed it with my DH and it's one of the things that'll be a benchmark for euth if he doesn't just pass on his own.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible

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    • #22
      So sorry about your friend's horse! 10 years ago, my Rosie came down with WNV as a two-year-old. It was very bad and my vet told me (much later) that he hadn't expected her to make it—out of 86 horses locally that contracted the virus the same weekend, she seemed to be the worst.

      She would stand as long as she could, and then go down and be unable to get up. Doctor told me that as long as I didn't let her stay down more than 2 hours, that part wouldn't be a problem. We would let her rest for an hour, then get her up.

      It took three people and smacks with a crop to get/lift her up each time, but after 6 days of treatment, she was finally able to get up by herself. She had no lingering issues, but I lost 10 years off my life during that week.
      "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." –Bradley Trevor Greive

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      • #23
        Several years ago, my old guy, who was probably around 17-18 at the time got stuck between a stack of round bales. Somehow he got flipped over on his back. I have no idea how long he was there but when I went to feed that morning that's how I found him. I couldn't get the tractor started, no one was home to help me move the bales but luckily I was able to flag down some duck hunters with a wench on their 4 wheel drive and they helped me pull the bales back so we could get him out. He got up but soon began laying down again and showing signs of colic. Vet couldn't come right away but left me some banamine at his office. Ran into town, gave Buddy the banamine and kept him walking and he was fine after a couple of hours. Scared the poop out of me though.

        BTW, Buddy is pushing 30 now and is fat and sassy. Old fart bosses all the younger horses around.
        I'm a second hand Vegan. Cows eat grass. I eat cows.

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        • #24
          How sad....

          My now 18 y.o. gelding got one foot caught in one of those round bales feeders that you see in pictures all the time. The red one with the U-shaped rails with the brace up the middle. He got his right hind caught at the pastern and couldn't get it out. I suspect that he was snoozing and rolled over and basically got himself cast. Fortuantely the kids found him, so I don't think he was down too long. But I've always considered myself lucky that he was just a little stiff and sore for a few days. Fortunately the b/o no longer uses that type of feeder. They are a hazard to horses, and I'm always concerned when I see them in photos in various horsey magazines.

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          • #25
            It also depends on temperature and how much thrashing they did. If it's 90, with 95% humidity and they've been down thrashing for some time, the window of opportunity to get them back up & do well is much smaller.

            (( Hugs to your friend ))
            <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.

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            • #26
              Originally posted by wireweiners View Post
              Several years ago, my old guy, who was probably around 17-18 at the time got stuck between a stack of round bales. Somehow he got flipped over on his back. I have no idea how long he was there but when I went to feed that morning that's how I found him. I couldn't get the tractor started, no one was home to help me move the bales but luckily I was able to flag down some duck hunters with a wench on their 4 wheel drive and they helped me pull the bales back so we could get him out. He got up but soon began laying down again and showing signs of colic. Vet couldn't come right away but left me some banamine at his office. Ran into town, gave Buddy the banamine and kept him walking and he was fine after a couple of hours. Scared the poop out of me though.

              BTW, Buddy is pushing 30 now and is fat and sassy. Old fart bosses all the younger horses around.
              tee hee, glad you had a happy ending. It's a winch not a wench.....

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              • #27
                or maybe it was a really strong wench....

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                • #28
                  Our mare had a really bad foaling that left one side of her hindquarters paralyzed due to nerve damage and she was down for nine days. But she was bright and alert the whole time -- eating and drinking and responding to us.

                  We finally got her up in a specially-made sling. Even then, she wasn’t able to stand on her own for another three days. Once she was up, she would NOT lie down. She had terrific muscle damage on the paralyzed side of her hindquarters – there was hardly enough there to keep her stifle in place. She was one sad looking horse.

                  Our vet told us the nerves would regenerate if we could keep her alive long enough. It took eight months, but he was right. She recovered completely.

                  Horses are fragile, but they are sometimes tougher than we think.
                  Last edited by mp; Apr. 4, 2013, 05:06 PM.
                  __________________________
                  "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
                  the best day in ten years,
                  you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."

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                  • Original Poster

                    #29
                    Got a little more info today.... horse had a front hoof caught in the halter (all horses at her barn are now getting breakaway halters). Still no idea how long he was down but he was down in the snow/slush and it was a 'warm' day (30s) but still pretty cold to be down after dark. One person that was there thinks he was gone mentally when he was found. Perhaps he gave up. DH said he showed zero inclination to stand on his own and no amount of pulling/tugging/whacking with a lead rope was getting him up. No one wanted to use more force than that (cattle prod). Even with the sling and tractor he wasn't helping bear his own weight.

                    They did give him Banamine early on (two doses/shots) before the vet got there but that didn't seem to help either. The whole situation has been described as "horrific." UGH.

                    He was put down last night. I guess that is what the insurance company wanted. (?)

                    Glad tho, to hear that there are success stories out there of horses that have gone on to survive/thrive/be fine after being down a long time.

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                    • #30
                      If they are down too long they can have lung problems.


                      "Date of publication : 2/9/2009
                      Source : Univ. of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine

                      It's something you wouldn't believe could happen unless you saw it. You walk out to the barn in the morning and start to panic when you realize your horse has cast itself. Somehow, someway, your horse has managed to lie up against a wall and is unable to get its feet underneath it to stand up. Most horse owners know their equine companions can't lie down for long, but exactly why that is remains a mystery to many.
                      "The longer they are down, the more prone they are to reperfusion injury," says Dr. Elysia Schaefer, an equine surgery resident at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Reperfusion injury can happen because horses are such large animals and the weight of their body in and of itself can prevent blood flow to certain locations. This can cause severe problems when they try to stand up again, and blood flow tries to return to normal.
                      Because Dr. Schaefer frequently deals with equine patients that must remain on their backs for an extended period of time during surgery, she knows time is of the essence in the operating room. While surgeries in smaller patients, including humans, may go on for countless hours, equine surgeons usually have a window of about three hours to get the job done.
                      After surgery, "We usually give them around one to two hours in the recovery stall and let them try and stand on their own," explains Dr. Schaefer. At the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, the large animal surgery recovery room is covered from wall to wall with soft blue pads, and the floor is an inflatable mattress to better comfort patients coming out of anesthesia.
                      Whether a horse is down because of surgery or it has cast itself in a stall, there are several problems that can occur. Besides reperfusion injury, muscles on the down side of the animal, as well as nerves, can become damaged from excessive pressure. Also, the "down" lung of the horse may cause trouble as excess blood pools there due to gravity.
                      Horses with neurological diseases are occasionally referred to the teaching hospital for intensive care. In some of these cases, the animal cannot stand. "With neurological cases where the patient is down, we are very careful to go in and flip them every few hours," says Dr. Schaefer. Although an equine surgeon worries about several issues if their patient were to be on one side for a long time, horses can get bedsores just like humans too.
                      While there is no hard and fast rule about how long a horse can be down before permanent damages ensue, the sooner you can get them up the better. Some owners think it is beneficial to pile wood shavings at least two feet high around the perimeter of the stall to prevent casting. However, that isn't fool proof.
                      If your horse has been down for a long period of time, or it is has cast itself and you are concerned with its health, call your veterinarian. Some horses may be very scared if they can't get up on their own so use extreme caution if you try to move them."
                      ... _. ._ .._. .._

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                      • #31
                        (( Hugs to your friend ))

                        Alas, this is the reason I never turn out with halters on, regardless of the size or age of the horse. Every halter & lead is hung right at the gate, tho, (with extras) so that should someone need a horse caught, they don't have to go searching.
                        <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.

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                        • #32
                          Asked my vet today about how long I should let the old guys stay asleep without flipping over before I should intervene--she said "normal" is about 45 minutes (as someone up-thread also said.) She said don't wait longer than about an hour to make sure they get up before they become too stiff.

                          However, she said there's no true rule of thumb--all depends on the age and condition of the horse, its health otherwise, the weather, etc.

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