Strange Episodes in Cushing's Horse
My mare has had a couple of unusual episodes and I am wondering if anyone has seen something similar or has any idea what might be happening.
I'll preface this by saying she is 28 years old, has Cushing's that is being treated with Prascend and appears happy and healthy. She is a good weight, is turned out 24/7 and gets along well with her two companions. She is retired from riding due to back arthritis.
I've seen this happen twice now. The first time (a couple months ago) I thought she was dying and just sat near her and thought I'd see her pass away.
The first time this happened, I arrived just after she had been given her night hay, which she gets a small amount in a hay net when all the horses are fed in the evening. When I arrived, she was lying down and her eyes were unfocused. She was flat on her side, and breathing with deep, rapid breaths. I wondered if she had a seizure or colic, but there were no disturbances in the sand and she did not look at her belly or roll.
For about ten minutes, she lay still almost looking asleep, but with her eyes open. Her ears, nostrils and mouth twitched a little and she just took big breaths but did not appear to be struggling in any way. After ten minutes, she sat up to a more normal lying position, but her eyes were still unfocused. Then, several minutes later she got up, shook herself, and went back to eat her food as if nothing had happened.
Last night, it happened again. I was giving her the handful of hay pellets she gets with her vitamins. She had eaten about half of it, when suddenly she walked out of her shelter and looked like she was going to roll. That was unusual because she never leaves food until it is all gone. But I thought maybe she needed to scratch an itch. She went down like she was going to roll, but instead went on her side and her eyes glazed over like the last time. She began breathing in big, deep breaths again. Her ears and nostrils twitched a little. She stopped breathing hard, but then just lay there. After about ten minutes, she suddenly focused and then got up and shook, and went straight back to her food.
My first guess is that she is having complex partial seizures relating to the Cushing's, and gets some kind of aura that makes her feel she should lie down ahead of time. I guess if that is the case, I'll just monitor her as long as she doesn't progress to having grand mal seizures. If she does start those, I would have to put her down to keep her from going out in a bad way.
Are there any other explanations? I was considering a few things...
-Since this is around feeding time and her teeth are getting worn down (she just had her dental float recently and still has chewing surfaces, but the teeth are short): I wondered if she could be getting some kind of wad in her esophagus that caused pain as it went down. Maybe this pain would make her want to lie down until it passed, and the staring off and twitching is related to focusing on that.
I have seen her have to cough up a wad of hay a couple of times in the past several years. I'm there when she eats most nights though, so it is a rare thing.
-Some kind of intermittent heart arrhythmia that causes her to feel strange or have chest pain, so she lies down until it goes away.