Friday, June 19, 2009

Fred Gets Stuck and Misty Falls Over

Yesterday, as the geldings were waiting to come in from the pasture, Scout decided to get all excited and started galloping around the pasture - the others joined in. Scout is 6 and the others are all much older - all but one in their 20s and 30s. By the time they got in, they were all hot and the old ones were really tired out. Fred decided to roll in his stall - probably because he was sweaty. He rolled, but then couldn't get back up. I was in another stall picking a horse's feet when there was this awful crashing and banging. Fred was attempting to heave himself up, got the front end up but couldn't lift himself with his hind legs and kept falling back down, hitting the stall walls and his water buckets. We couldn't go in the stall to help him because he was flailing around too much. Finally he managed to get up. We checked him out - he was soaking with sweat from the effort, had a cut on the left side of his neck, with bruising, probably from hitting the water buckets, and the outside of his left hock was skinned and bleeding. We put some Nolvasan ointment on his wounds and put him in a small grass paddock with Fritz to cool off. He was walking fine and didn't seem upset by the whole incident. I checked on him again that evening - he has a history of colic - and he was resting quietly, and he was OK this morning. We kept his owner updated by phone and e-mail.

Fred is 23 (I think) but looks older than his age. His hindquarters are weak - he has a bit of wasting - which may be from when he had Lyme disease when he lived out east. When he canters, he doesn't go very fast, and does a bit of a "bunny hop" with both hind legs almost moving together. He may have just become exhausted from the running, and didn't have the muscle strength to rise when he rolled. Fred's owner said she was glad she wasn't there to see it - she hates to see him getting old.

We've recently observed some odd behavior in Misty. She's always been one of those horses that tends to become wobbly when girthed, and if you're not careful, she actually becomes unconscious and falls down. Her owner keeps her walking when girthing and that solves the problem. Recently, Misty has been falling deeply asleep in her stall after evening feeding, head drooping to the ground - and then she just falls over backwards, with her hindquarters hitting the stall wall - sometimes she sits down. This wakes her up, and she gets up. We're not sure - she may be narcoleptic - but it isn't due to an inability to lie down and get up (and therefore get enough REM sleep) that causes narcolepsy in some horses - she can easily lie down and get up. She's an Impressive-bred Quarter Horse and a HYPP carrier (not expressed), but I doubt that has anything to do with it.


  1. oh, poor Fred. I am glad he seems OK after not being able to get up!
    How difficult to watch them struggle as they get older.
    It is good that they have a good home and you are there to keep an eye on them. I always fear for those aging horses that are just left out somewhere without good supervision.

  2. You obviously keep a good eye on all your charges. It's so hard when animals age and can't tell us what is wrong or what we can do to help.
    I appreciate your visits to my blog even if I don't always answer comments.

  3. It is heartbreaking to watch older horses when their bodies begin to fail them, as it is with humans. But, we humans can verbally express our discontent while the horses suffer in silence. Glad you were there to keep watch. He probably had a ball running around, but paid for it later with the muscle fatigue and weakness. Poor guy.

  4. Has Misty ever sustained injuries to her legs? I worked with a mare who had been taken from the track after a leg injury--she was sound, but unable to "lock" her knees while sleeping. Unfortunately, this mare preferred to sleep standing up, and so she'd sleep while stumbling around her pen. The owners had to build her an inclosure without electric fencing so she wouldn't panic when she eventually ran into stuff. Weird--but the mare lived to a good old age with it.

    Give Fred a kiss. Old horses are the best.

  5. AareneX - As far as I know, Misty's legs are OK - apparently some horses just do this. The case you cite is an odd (and interesting) one!


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