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Sad day today

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  • Sad day today

    Today I watched a horse die in the paddock. It was very sad, and while I absolutely understand sometimes things just happen, I'm trying to make some sense of what I saw.

    We weren't watching the paddock for that race, but saw people run over with what I thought was a stretcher of some sort, so went over to take a peek from the upper deck of the clubhouse. It wasn't a stretcher--it was a screen--and there was a horse down. It was bleeding heavily from the nose, and in distress. After a few moments, it scrambled and tried to rise, got loose for a very terrifying 30 seconds (although it felt like far longer--good lord that was scary) and didn't get very far as it never really was able to get all the way to it's feet. Then it fell again and twitched (I'd say "seized" but I don't think it's what was really happening) for another two or three minutes before it died. From when I saw the people run over with the screen to when the horse died was maybe five to eight minutes. I was told the horse reared and went over backward, but am not sure if that really happened or what roll it played.

    The trainer is one I highly respect and I cannot even fathom that there could have even been any sort of shadiness involved in the handling or treatment of the horse.

    Given the blood from the nose, does this sound like a ruptured ethmoid hematoma or guttural pouch mycosis? Is this how they present?

    I'm hesitant to post this at all, but I'm upset with what I saw and I'd like to make some sense of it, if that's even possible. From what I saw and what I do know, I think it's unlikely that this horse's death was related to racing--I think this likely could have happened in any venue, or out in a field--but I thought I would post here as I did see this at the track and I thought perhaps our super seasoned race track people might have some insight, even if only due to the sheer number of horses they've been around.

    Also a question about track operations: why is there not a vet employed by the track in the jock's room or the racing office (which adjoins the jock's room for us) or otherwise nearby to the paddock? I understand things very, very rarely happen, but they paged the vet a few times and I never did see him.

    If I can, I'll try to chat with the trainer next weekend, but I also don't want to be disrespectful or upset him.

  • #2
    Could it have been a ruptured aneurysm? I have seen personally 2 horses die on course at 4* events and that is what it sounds like.
    I am sorry you had to see that...
    Mai Tai aka Tyler RIP March 1994-December 2011
    Grief is the price we pay for love- Gretchen Jackson
    "And here she comes. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's ZENYATTA!"


    • Original Poster

      Do those horses bleed from the nose, ivy62? I've never seen that first hand, either, thankfully.

      I'm sorry you've had to see something like this twice


      • #4
        Not horses, but my mother once had a burst artery in her nose. Is it possible that the horse might have had something similar and just bled out?

        One of the signs of Pulmonary hemorrhage is nose bleeds in horses. Do horses have pulmonary hemmorhages that aren't associated with EIPH?
        "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
        Thread killer Extraordinaire


        • #5
          I know of several horses over the years that flipped over when the aneurysm burst, and then , yes they bleed out from the nose. It is not pretty.
          Or it could have flipped and hit its head, then bled out.
          "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"


          • #6
            Originally posted by ivy62 View Post
            Could it have been a ruptured aneurysm?
            Guttural pouch mycosis could account for what you saw. Technically, the mycosis ("fungal infection") doesn't cause death. It causes constriction/weakening of a branch of the internal carotid artery which runs over the guttural pouch. When the wall of the artery gives way, the horse hemorrhages fatally into the guttural pouch, which then flows out the nose.

            Not to be dramatic, but since you're talking about a horse pre-race, and probably any horse feeling pain and a sudden huge rush of blood in a part of the body they probably were previously unaware of, the heart rate is high and the amount of blood coming out is -- well, the amount you'd expect from a horse's carotid artery. If this happens in a stall, there will be blood all over the walls.

            The struggling (and perhaps even the intial rearing over, if that happened) could be symptoms or the horse's reactions.

            Sometimes, one or two nosebleeds presage the fatal hemorrhage. Perhaps in a racehorse that bled after working, those might not have been followed up as they would a pleasure horse. On the other hand, some horses with guttural pouch mycosis never bleed, and the first symptom, tragically, is a dead horse with a tremendous amount of blood around it.

            Sorry to be so descriptive. I am also very sorry you witnessed this.

            Obviously, many other explanations are possible.


            I can ride my horses without a sharps container.


            • Original Poster

              I appreciate the feedback, all, and the details, too, Martha. I'm the sort of person who need to understand the mechanism to mentally work through something like this, so the conversation is helpful. I realize it's not fun to talk or think about

              While the horse bled out a considerable amount from it's nose, it was not an ENORMOUS "wow, horses have a lot of blood in their body" sort of volume. Does that fit with an ethmoid hematoma or guttural pouch mycosis?

              What sort of aneurysm causes the horse to bleed from the nose? The Horse has several articles about aortic aneurysm, but they also mention there is no outward signs: http://www.thehorse.com/articles/147...-heart-attacks Would an aneurysm of the large pulmonary artery fit here (like viney suggests)?


              • #8
                Sounds like he flipped and hit his head. We had one of those in the paddock for the first race of the year. He didn't die then, they got him up and loaded onto the wagon and back to the barn, but he did end up being put down.
                It's a uterus, not a clown car. - Sayyedati


                • Original Poster

                  Not to be dense, Slewdledo, but where does the extensive bleeding from the nose come from with a simple flip and head hit? I have seen one of those--a horse stood up and went over on concrete--and it did not look anything like what I saw today, and there was no bleeding with that horse.

                  Also, there was no way this horse was going to walk away. It was very clear from the time I walked to the window that the horse was not going to survive. I was surprised to see it try to rise, but after thinking about it later, I figured it was a flight response to critical O2 levels in the brain from the loss of blood.


                  • #10
                    Well they have to hit their head just right (wrong.) Many years ago my boss had a mare rear and flip while being bred, hit her head, bleed from the nose and die just about instantly. I believe Exogenous was bleeding from the nose when she flipped at the Breeders' Cup. (May be wrong on that.) Alos in the '90s a nice filly named Demon Acquire flipped/died. And Three Ring.

                    When it happens in the paddock it is most likely a result of head trauma.
                    It's a uterus, not a clown car. - Sayyedati


                    • #11
                      I've seen horses flip for no reason and others flip because the groom was being too rough. One filly we had at Saratoga flipped on the way to the paddock because she had a lip chain on and an idiot groom. She was getting antsy and he jerked the chain several times. She went up and over. I didn't see it but I believe she died on impact, and there was a lot of blood, I remember washing it off her blinkers

                      I saw another go over walking to the paddock from being jerked on. She hit her head, got up and kept walking, then 10 steps later she staggered and fell down dead. Saw the whole thug and had to ride my very freaked out pony past her.

                      Those horses are so on edge before a race that little things can set them off.


                      • #12
                        I have seen something similar to this happen with a ruptured aneurism in the brain. The horse seized, reared, and flipped. She hit her head so hard on the concrete when she flipped that she started hemorrhaging from her nose. It took her about 3-4 minutes to die and in those 3-4 minutes she was thrashing and trying to get up. It was very, very traumatic and something that I still have nightmares over several years later.

                        I'm so sorry for that horse and all the witnesses. If you makes you feel better when it happened to the pony I knew, she was mentally gone after she flipped and I don't think she suffered at all.
                        Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
                        My equine soulmate
                        Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding


                        • #13
                          When a horse dies from gpm, there s MASSIVE amounts of blood, like gallons. I've seen a couple die after flipping and hitting their head on the pavement sadly and both times there was quite a bit of blood from the nostrils but nothing like the filly I lost to gpm.

                          Smilie I'm sorry you had to see that, it always leaves you with a punched in the gut feeling.

                          If you pm me the horses name, I will let you know if I hear anything


                          • #14
                            There's no way to know for sure without a necropsy, so many things can happen but the most common would be head trauma from flipping. The nose bleed was probably just that, a nose bleed. If you fall and hit your head and you have a nose as long as a horse, odds are you are going to give that a good smack too, which can cause a nosebleed.
                            Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

                            Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.


                            • Original Poster

                              There was a considerable blood from the nose, and what appeared to be arterial spurting. While I don't think the entire blood volume of the horse came out through the nose, I'd guess there was still at least gallon, likely more, on the ground.

                              I realize this is an academic discussion, and for my own peace of mind, I will have a careful discussion with the trainer, if he is open to any discussion at all. But having never seen anything like this before, it is helpful for me to understand the possibilities and mechanisms that might be at play.

                              I suppose it's easier, too, for me to accept that the horse had something physically wrong that caused a sudden bleed, which caused the flip, and lead to what I saw. It's harder for me if she just went up and over and died because of that, you know?


                              • #16
                                Not only have I seen this happen, I have a 2 year old right now that recovered from that. I had a yearling that was being led out to his pasture. He had been inside for a few days, so he was a little frisky. He bounced out beside the groom and just went up and over that fast. He hit the ground with a terrifying thud. He laid there, with blood coming out of his nose and ears. The farm vet happened to be on the farm, raced over, and treated him massively with DMSO, among other stuff ; he tried to get up once or twice, and just flipped over. The farm owner stayed with him, sat on his head so he couldnt get up. The vet said he'd be back in an hour. If the horse hadnt gotten up, they'd put him down.

                                About 15 minutes before the vet came back, he got up, but a very staggery, wobbly up. It took 6 people to get him into his stall without crashing again. He stood in his stall spraddle legged, and couldnt move, his whole head and neck tilted to the side. Im not even sure at that point why I tried to save him, it looked pretty bad. The vet came every day and treated him; he could barely move. He couldnt drop his head, so we filled his feed tub with hay and hung his bucket to head level so he could drink. When he slowly came out of being tranqed, he started to pull some strands of hay from his tub, so that was probably the reason we persevered with him. He never stopped eating.

                                He went from standing staggered, barely able to take a step forward, to being able to wobble around in a circle about a month from the accident. Head and neck still severely tilted, and one eyeball was really bulging out. He never stopped eating, and he slowly got better and better. He was in the stall for about 6 months before we felt we could safely turn him out.

                                Its been about 18 months. When he looks straight at you, you can still see one ear is lower than the other, and he has a slight head tilt, but thats the extent of it right now. He's been in training, and if you didnt know he had a previous accident, you'd never know.

                                It is such a severe injury at the time it happens that I think 95% cant be saved, especially if they happen in a paddock at a race track. I am 100% positive that if the vet hadnt been 30 seconds away from treating him, that he would have died right there.


                                • #17
                                  This is him close to a year after the accident:


                                  • #18
                                    Simkie, I have had a horse flip on the longe line and hit his head. Luckily he hit hard enough that he was gone brain-wise instantly (blank eyes) but his muscles were still working. You may not have been close enough to see if the horse was also bleeding from the ears, like mine was from the impact. Mine lived a horrible half hour + until the bet could arrive to put him out. Maybe one of your Canter connections can fill you in - I imagine the barns pretty much know what happened.
                                    Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


                                    • #19
                                      A fractured skull from a flip can cause a bleed.
                                      McDowell Racing Stables

                                      Home Away From Home


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Thanks for the continued conversation, all. Plumcreek, I cannot even imagine waiting 30 minutes for the vet to arrive to euthanized the horse At least the horse yesterday went pretty quickly, and I think it suffered very little.

                                        If I find out anything next weekend, either from the trainer himself or others I trust, I will update here if the info is appropriate to share.