FAINTING when girth is tightened?? Help!

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FAINTING when girth is tightened?? Help!

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    07-17-2011, 03:13 PM
Exclamation FAINTING when girth is tightened?? Help!

Hi All -- it's been so long since I visited, but I could really use your helpful expertise on behalf of a friend of mine! She has a 2yo filly that has been exhibiting some pretty odd behavior and we'd like to know if you have any input that could help.

Here's what happened with Trouble yesterday (c&p'd via an email from her owner to me): First of all, about three weeks ago or less I had her in overnight cause the farrier was coming the next day. BO called around 8am saying that trouble was circling in her stall, and was super wobbly like she might fall down. I immediately assumed she'd likely colicked from being cast. By the time I got there she'd calmed down and we gave her some banamine and watched her for a while and put her back out to pasture. But today I had a friend pull her in so that after I worked with the new mare I could work Trouble. In the cross ties I put the surcingle on her and a couple of seconds later her front feet camped out and the light went out of her eyes. She sat back on the cross ties and struggled a bit but not much. Finally she lurched forward, hitting her head on the rafters and breaking loose one cross tie and went down on her face and knees. When she came back up I undid the other cross tie and went straight out the door and into the arena. After about 5-10 minutes she was back to normal, so I tied her up in the arena, went and got the surcingle, untied it, and this time my friend tightened the surcingle. She had the same reaction, just in a safer environment. Also in the cross ties I noticed that her gums turned slightly purpulish blue, though back to pink when she recovered. So basically it's like she's passing out when I tighten the girth, and Lynn noticed that she was kinda hot to the touch and that never went away. Also she's been sorta moving her mouth weird, wide and circular like she wants to pop her jaw. I did call the vet and he'd seen this before in older horses with ulcers so given her turnout and lack of work we all doubt that is in play in anyway.

So guys... what are your thoughts? She could really use your help!!

Thank you :)

Oh, an addendum: The whole thing with her jaw or teeth started that day a few weeks ago too, maybe if she had tried to work her back then she would have seen this happen too. The other thing that is very important to note is that her gums were discolored and I don't know if that happened from literally sitting back on the cross ties or if it's something bigger. She does seem disoriented and afraid when it happens and comes to her owner for comfort. This is NOT a stressed filly, she's very laid back and has had super slow training with long layoffs and constant turnout with others. She takes new situations very well, which is why we are so stumped by this behavior and worry that it's health related.
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    07-17-2011, 03:20 PM
Narcolepsy? Epilepsy? Something very painful under the girth? Girth is too tight and is cutting off air?
    07-17-2011, 03:23 PM
When I googled her symptoms, the tight girth issue was the only thing to come up. At first, I thought it explained her symptoms well, because I read lots about how many horses will "faint" or "shut down" or what have you when the girth is tightened too quickly. Unfortunately, that doesn't explain the bizarre yawn-like behavior and what seems to be dizzy spells in the stall :(
    07-17-2011, 03:26 PM
I'm getting from the post that she's a young horse. I wouldn't suspect any kind of brain tumor / neurological abnormality at her age, but then who knows? Is it at all possible she got kicked in the head or something?
    07-17-2011, 03:30 PM
Yes, she's a 2yo filly. That is actually very possible, she's kept out to pasture with 3 other horses -- one very big mustang, a small mare, and another 2yo filly even smaller than she is... As far as I know, she gets along well with the mustang and the other filly but I don't know how she is with the other mare. But then again, anything can happen out in the pasture..
    07-17-2011, 03:36 PM
Uugh, this rings a faint bell, but I can't remember what the cause was. I think it might have been something to do with restricting blood flow by pressing on something directly related to the heart. If I can find it, I'll repost. I think I found it a few years back when I was researching my horse's sudden falling asleep episodes.
    07-17-2011, 03:40 PM
I have a horse that occasionally goes down while being saddled. Sounds pretty similar to my boy, I just had a post on it and a lot of people posted some good information and possible solutions.

Horse goes down after Saddling

Its a lot of info to put down, but if you have any questions just let me know. I have been dealing with this for about 6 years now. Though for young horses that are starting their training it is heard of every now and then.
    07-17-2011, 04:11 PM
I'm by no means experienced in this. But you could try taking your hand and pressing firmly against different spots on her belly, where the girth would go. If you notice she seems to go wobbly when you're pressing in one spot maybe tell the vet about it. I'm curious about the blocking of a major vessel related to the heart too.
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    07-17-2011, 06:35 PM

I don't know if it happens in horses, but in people it is called the Valsalva Reflex

Valsalva's manoeuvre: Information from Answers.com.

If you hold your breath which simultaneausly exerting yourself, you will pass out. In human beings, it is a little-known but completely normal phenomenom.

I wonder if your horse tries to hold her breath or "puff out" against the tightening girth....and is clenching so hard that she is inadvertantly causing the same drop in blood pressure that will lead to fainting?

Let us know what your vet says...
    07-17-2011, 06:42 PM
I know a lot of horses at my barn hold their breath because they don't like a tight girth....... Keep us posted.
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