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Unusual Horse Behavior Right Before Death...Anyone Else?

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  • Unusual Horse Behavior Right Before Death...Anyone Else?

    I returned home today to 5 messages, asking me to check on my horses...A horse had been found down in a ditch about a mile from my home. Heart in my throat, I checked on my boys. Both accounted for....whew!

    I went to the road where the horse was, by then the caretakers had been notified. The horse was a 34+ YO Mustang mare, who had been under vet care for some time-in fact, he'd been there the day before, and the out of state owner was being notified the horse would either need to be put down quite soon-arthritic, just about toothless, heart issues, and now not eating, kidney issues, etc.

    She was checked on at 1:15 PM. At 3 PM she was seen stiffly trotting down the road, apparently she had jumped? clambered? over her stone walled paddock, then went down another road, down an incline, over another stone wall, and into a somewhat swampy area, about a mile from her home, where she collapsed and died. There were numerous people present when she was down, including the caretakers.

    They had no idea who to call, so I called hubby at work, who came over and took care of bringing the old mare "back home". While we were waiting for him, I talked to the caretakers. The mare could barely walk, they hadn't seen her trot in close to a year. They were quite mystified that she would suddenly break out and take a road trip, so to speak. Actually I had known the mare MANY years ago, she was adopted as a 2 YO at a Mustang adoption.

    The owner ended up calling me tonight from out of state, questioning why I thought the horse did that. While I don't know, does anyone think it's possible a Mustang (she remained a tad feral) would "leave the herd/home" to die? The horse was in poor condition, it's hard to believe she would even have the energy to do what she did.

    Anyone with a similar experience?

  • #2
    I have seen dogs do weird things like this. I think their mind goes elsewhere a bit before their body.


    • #3
      I don't know. Maybe some instinct that tells them to move away from the herd so when the scavengers come they herd is safe?

      I do believe I have heard that animals do that rather often....



      • #4
        I know of an old guy who escaped and wandered down the road to the corner store. He died the next day.
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        • #5
          Could she have been colicking and trying to run away from the pain? I've seen horses do strange things when they're colicking...


          • #6
            I had a horse do the opposite, my first horse was out at pasture and he was demanding to be let in. We let him in his stall and a few minutes later he collapsed and died.
            Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.
            Bernard M. Baruch


            • #7
              I think they want a safe place.
              "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


              • #8
                I'm pretty sure when I watched one of the documentaries on mustangs, they said they will usually go off alone to die. The also go off alone to give birth. From my understanding it is to protect the herd by not attracting predators to them. Some times 1 or 2 other mares that are close to the dying/pregnant will go with them to protect them.
                Celtic Charisma (R.I.P) ~ http://flickr.com/photos/rockandracehorses/2387275281
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                "Hope is not an executable plan" ~ My Mom
                I love my Dublin-ator


                • #9
                  Something very strange happened the day my <3 horse broke his leg and was euthenized. It's a little different because it wasn't his behavior which was strange- and it's not as if broken legs fit into the patterns of strange "preparing for death behavior"

                  The day was very hot and sunny- and I was in the house and I was pregnant. It was the sort of day when I'd go out and make sure the water tank was full and put on fly masks, but not much more with the horses beyond that. The horses were in a pasture that was 90% obscured from the view from the house.

                  Suddenly *almost* my whole herd (4 out of 5) ran through the electric fence, breaking it down, and galloped as a group across my front yard. Yeah- THAT sure got my attention. The fact that one of the five was not with them was more alarming to me than the fact that the other 4 were loose in the yard (no biggie) I immediatly headed out into the pasture and found the remaining horse with a broken leg. I think he must have broke it some time before (20 minutes to an hour) due to the way he was sweated and the amount of tramping on the ground where he was standing.

                  I honestly think that the other horses didn't know what to do and hatched a plan to get me... and I am so thankful they did.


                  • #10
                    I've known several of the "oldest old," or horses with known neurological issues, to go "lights are on and nobody home" within about 48 hours of the (assisted) end. Suddenly they don't know you , or even seem to 100% know where they are. One thing curious about this is the other horses ALWAYS know and go off and leave them alone--even their best buddies. I have surmised they've had a stroke or something, but no one knows.


                    • #11
                      While I've not had to deal with this in my horse yet, I have with several kitties. Each time I knew it was "time" when I consistently found them in places they would never go before. Places that were well hidden and out of the way...I have wondered if it's something that's just hard wired in all animals.
                      “Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of Solitaire. It is a grand passion.” ~Emerson


                      • #12
                        Coincidence or ...?

                        Just days before I lost my first horse, I noticed him acting differently ... depressed, head low, not taking much interest in the goings-on around him.

                        He didn't appear sick (no fever, colicky behavior, limping or weaving). Then a couple days later, this horse -- always the lowest in the turnout herd -- pushed his way to the front of the paddock gate at feeding time. That was like a suicidal move: the alpha laid into him with a kick that took him down and likely fractured his pelvis.

                        And that was the end.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Plainandtall View Post
                          I honestly think that the other horses didn't know what to do and hatched a plan to get me... and I am so thankful they did.
                          More realistically, the odd movements, trampling, and perhaps flopping of the broken leg (so sorry) of the injured horse caused the panic. With those strange movements it meant that the other horse was "not a horse" and something from which to flee.


                          • #14
                            Yes Anne- You are probably correct. I do like my anthropromorphised version better though. It was a really rough day, and the horses "coming to get me" was really the only teeny bright spot.


                            • #15
                              {{{Hugs}}} I hear you. Most of us have been there and these tragedies break our hearts. How awful.


                              • #16
                                I have seen this kind of thing with humans two times. Minutes before my Mom passed, she tried to get out of the bed and go somewhere.She wasn't trying to run away, she seemed to be wanting to go "to" somewhere.

                                A couple of days before my Grandpa died, he struggled and wanted to get out of bed. He swore he had something to do in the basement.

                                I wonder if in some the horses minds they are reliving an old memory or think there is something they need to do.