OTTB Mental Health - Need Help!
I purchased an OTTB 2 years ago this coming November. Things changed in my life right around when I bought him and I wasn't able to spend as much time with him as I would have liked. I only rod him about a dozen times that first year so this year I decided to put him in training for a month and then sell him to someone who will be able to spend more time with him.
In week 3 of training he started flipping over. This is totally uncharacteristic of him. We thought it was behavioural at first but it does't seem
I had the vet come out to see him because his behavior is not normal. His throwing himself backwards is very dangerous and I really don’t feel right about selling him knowing someone might be seriously hurt by him.
He passed all neurological tests, and only showed a bit of back discomfort and minor lameness in his right front, but really not a big deal. So that part was good news… But there’s a but…
He is sometimes found with his head pressing against the barn, so the vet was wondering if these fits may actually have been seizures. So the vet did some blood work to rule out liver, kidney, or other organ diseases, and other than slightly low calcium levels he checked out fine.
The vet doesn’t believe that this is avoidance behavior meaning that it’s something else. That something else we really don’t know… The next step would be to do a cat scan but I am not in a position to spend that kind of money.
At the end of the day I am at a loss. He is not a safe horse to ride, or sell. I am grappling with either putting him down, find someone to take him to put him out to pasture… I’m not sure we have any other options.
I am going to continue to research to see if we can come up with any possible solutions… But it could be a brain tumor or something of that nature… Without doing the test we just wont know.
I am looking for any insight that may be available on this message board and thank you in advance for your help!
Head pressing is a sign of pain.
The flipping or other self destructive behavior could be neurological as the horse isn't thinking clearly. It could be a mass that triggers the episodes & if it is there probably isn't much you could do for him. Seizures could be from a number of causes, most which won't show up on image tests.
Kissing spines could cause lameness issues but usually not flipping over.
You're right, he is not safe to ride & if it is seizures he really isn't safe to himself no matter where he is.
We had one who never showed any signs of illness until one night he had a massive seizure that led to him sustaining horrific injuries when he smashed his head & body around his stall. When found he was quiet but had so many head fractures he wasn't recognizable. The well built stall was demolished with blood everywhere. We got him to a hospital & while his injuries could have been fixed whatever had caused the seizures was still there so we sadly had to say goodbye.
I hope your horse has a better outcome.
I had a dairy cow do the same thing. Clearly she had a head ache.. truly and really that was what her behavior indicated. We put her on high doses or NSAID's at first and there was no improvement. We put her on high doses of steroids. It was get better or die and either the steroids would cure her or they would leave her open to infection and that could kill her or whatever was causing her pain was going to kill her.. Helped for a day or two and then she reverted to the pain behavior.
In the end we had her put down.. and because cows don't always manifest rabies like other animals and based on the time frame this happened in, the vet took a brain sample and sent it to the rabies lab. Fortunately she was negative (and after that we started to vaccinate everything on the farm for rabies). Her name was Freida.
He did mention her brain did not appear normal when he took the sample.. and while we never took this further I have always wondered if it was encephalitis (cows are not typically vaccinated for this and I do not know if they are susceptible to the organism).
I wish you luck with this horse. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do is the hardest.
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