Extreme behavioural change - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 05-31-2013, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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Question Extreme behavioural change

Hi following numerous vet tests / behavioural assessments I'm hoping some one out there will be able to shed some light or provide some direction I can take with my mare. 'Leyla' is a three year old warmblood / thoroubred cross ; several months ago I notice that she had large swelling near her gland (right side under her throat). I had her scoped and it was identified that she had a small bit of timber lodged in her guttural pouch which was causing the gland to swell (vet stated it was infection), we placed her on anti biotic's for several weeks, however the only thing that changed has been her behaviour. She has gone from a sweet natured girl to laying her ears back, charging at me, rearing and striking, last week she threw me for the first time and fractured three of my vertebrae's; even when I put her rug on she goes rigid and lays her ears back ready to attack. My neighbour had even stated that whilst she was working near the fence, 'Leyla' came charging across the paddock towards her and with her teeth bared.

There has been no changes to her diet / stable environment or daily routine. I've had blood tests conducted which have all come back clear / teeth has been checked/ chiropractor has seen her , all in all I believe I have covered every base and have now hit a brick wall.

This mare has been with me since she was a baby and as previously stated she has never been a problem. If any one could provide some direction or advise it would be greatly appreciated. I won't get rid of her as I feel there is a 'medical' problem causing this extreme behavioural change, just knowing what that is or how to identify the problem has me stumped.
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post #2 of 16 Old 05-31-2013, 09:20 PM
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Hormones? She could have a hormone imbalance. That would explain the extreme change, irrational aggression, etc. A lot of mares are in pain, and that might be way she is acting out.
Not sure where you're located, but if it's spring, perhaps she's just going into heat and having a tough time. If you think that's the case, I've always favored a cup of dried raspberry leaves (herbco.com) a day for spring/summer.
Other than that, I don't think there's really enough info for other suggestions.
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post #3 of 16 Old 05-31-2013, 09:54 PM
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I am curious about the bit of timber in the guttural pouch you mentioned. Is it still there? Do you have any idea how it got there in the first place?
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post #4 of 16 Old 05-31-2013, 10:08 PM
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I also wonder about the piece of wood. Did the vet go in and remove it? And if not, why not?

A couple of years ago my mare developed an abcess in the same area as your horse. It was stubborn. The vet xrayed and went in and opened it to make sure there was no foreign object.. It took a year of treatment and attention to finally heal. She will always have a thickness in the area from scar tissue. But unlike you mare, mine had no personality change.

If the object your mare had/has was not removed I would be concerned that there is still something there causing problems. It would be worth another vet call on this.

If you ever find yourself in a fair fight, it's because your tactics suck. ~ Marine 1SGT J. Reifinger
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post #5 of 16 Old 05-31-2013, 10:20 PM
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Since the wood is foreign to the body it will reject it. I'm wondering if this mare has one or more abscessed teeth as they are very painful. This can cause swelling in the lower jaw, causing a lump. If an abscess the antibiotics would help for a while but the pain may return as infection builds up under the tooth.
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post #6 of 16 Old 05-31-2013, 10:52 PM
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Thainui, Very sorry to hear this happened to you, what is your mare grazing and are you feeding her anything else - if so what?

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post #7 of 16 Old 06-01-2013, 01:35 AM
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Another possibility is ulcers, due to the original stress & antibiotics. Association with people equalling pain... And I know this isn't what the thread is about, but if she's only 3yo, I wouldn't be riding her much if at all yet, as you obviously care about her long-term health.
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post #8 of 16 Old 06-01-2013, 02:15 AM
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Sudden severe behavioural change needs investigation. I would be concerned pain was the root cause.
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post #9 of 16 Old 06-01-2013, 02:39 AM
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If she were my horse I would get her scoped, and run a full blood panel. It may be possible the infection is coming back. There are tons of nerves and a large blood supply in the gutteral pouches- this makes it easy for
infection to spread to nearby structures including the brain.

Guttural Pouch Surgery Large Animal Hospital College of Veterinary Medicine University of Florida

A behavior change that drastic sounds like either pain, a neurological problem or an infection.

I would get her scoped and if that fails to show anything start her on ulcer medication and/or birth control to regulate her hormones.

Ulcers can also result in behavior changes due to pain. With my mare she turned into a nervous wreck rather than the calm horse she usually is. She was anemic and had some mild colic before being diagnosed.

A sudden and dramatic behavior change is absolutely abnormal. Any time that happens it makes me suspect possible brain involvement. Even a horse in pain should not go from being a sweet horse all the time, to being that aggressive! If she was in that much severe pain you would see other symptoms (elevated heart rate, lack of interest in food, sweating etc).

I would consider checking her for testosterone as well, but that would probably be a long shot.
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post #10 of 16 Old 06-01-2013, 03:08 AM Thread Starter
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Hi all and thankyou so much for your comments. To answer some of the questions raised, I can confirm the following actions have been completed, : full blood test / scope & ultra sound of the throat / airways. It was via the scoping the piece of timber was identified. Like most I thought surgery would have ben required but it was explained to me the area in question was very difficult to access and even if the did undertake the surgery infection would be very hard to contain; as such it was advised that given the foreign object was small it would break down over time. Every possible test recommended by the vet and equine surgeon was conducted and to date this have been to no avail.
Cycle wise, Leyla comes into heat like clock work, even though we are in the beginning of winter here is Sydney (Australia) every 28 days she's in season. What I have noticed this afternoon though was a large protrusion that has come up near her teats; when I tried to touch the area she almost went through the roof and struck out trying to kick, could this be the problem? if so could it be possible she may have a hernia and what is the treatment ? Do you think her behaviour is as a result of pain due to a 'possible' hernia? I checked all vital signs following her reaction from my touching the area other than a slight increase in her heart rate ( not to point that could be described as out of the ordinary) everything was fine.
As usual this evening when I put her in the stable she went straight to her feed and began to eat, throughout she has maintained a health appetite.
As I'm new to this site (so not familiar with how to up load photos) I'll take some photos tomorrow morning and see if I can up load them so you will have a clearer view of the swelling I am referring to

Again I appreciate your comments.
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