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I just discovered that my 19 yo TB is falling down at night (someone who lives in the barn apartment at my boarding facility saw him fall down), apparently when he is trying to sleep. She also saw him with a locked stifle one time, though I have never seen him have this problem at any other time. My trainer said this sometimes happens to older horses, and he may not be laying down to sleep and so may be sleep deprived. I can't really tell if he is laying down in his stall. Separately, I have noticed that he trips a lot, both when lunging and under saddle.

The person who saw him fall down (apparently, this happens a lot but she didn't know what the sound was until she actually saw him do it one night) told me that it could be due to problems locking his stifle (and unlocking, I guess, since she saw him with a locked stifle), and that there are shoeing/trimming techniques to help this issue. So, I'm not sure if his falling down is due to sleep deprivation or due to a stifle issue. Also, I'm wondering if his tripping is related. He is due for his next farrier visit in about 2 weeks, and it would be helpful to know if there is something I should ask the farrier to do differently. He currently wears shoes on all four feet. I don't have pics of his feet but will take some (he is wearing snow poppers, so I can't get good pictures of his frog, etc., though).
 

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First, I would highly recommend contacting your veterinarian about this issue - falling and frequent tripping can sometimes indicate neurological issues.

The Superficial Digital Flexor Tendon runs down the back of the limb and is part of the stay apparatus - this is what allows a horse to lock its legs so it can sleep standing. I would be concerned that there may be injury or strain to this tendon, so having the vet take a look would be a good idea.

I would definitely get this horse checked out by a vet before trying to formulate a shoeing plan - it sounds like there is more going on here than just his feet.

Keep us posted!
 

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I know a older tb mare who has mild narcolepsy. She RARELY gets ridden and its not for too long (no one wants to bif it). She only has these episodes when she is already tired. She will fall into such a deep sleep she will fall on her knees or completely on the ground. That wakes her up though.

But i would go with what Rialto said. I would always get the vet out for something like this asap. It could be just him getting old, or it could be something you need to address now.
 

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Agree with Rialto. I'd be consulting a chiro vet or other good bodyworker, rather than a regular vet tho. Could be a body or neurological issue, but it is commonly, as Rialto said, a 'stay apparatus' issue. Often not due to injury to tendons, but due to hoof pain/imbalance. As he also trips, I'd be looking at his feet first, then consulting a bodyworker. Locking stifles, IME would not cause a horse to fall, and no, 'corrective' trimming/shoeing cannot help that - it's often due to back probs. That said, of course, badly balanced or ill functioning feet can be the cause of body issues, so *correct* trimming may help.

Is there any other imbalance you can see in him? Any other probs 'finding his feet' or such?
 

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Is he turned out with other horses for any amount of time? Is it a stable group, or have lots of new horses or does he get harassed? Sleep deprivation can cause tripping, stumbling and collapse, but is somewhat uncommon in horses who are kept with other horses and have reasonable turnout time because although there are many horses who will not lie down and sleep in a stall, most of those will then lie down when outside with the other horses as they have enough space and feel safe with the rest of the herd 'keeping watch.'

Sleep deprivation can also be a medical issue- narcolepsy from causes other than the usual anxiety and feeling unsafe enough that they refuse to sleep. There have been horses that were taken to a vet hospital who then slept for nearly two days straight (highly unusual, as you can imagine) just because there was something (another horse, a predator, the stall, etc) at home that they were too stressed by to rest. The other medical roots of it can be much tougher to diagnose.

And then, as Loosie said, there can be pain issues (back, feet, etc) that prevent the horse from using his stay mechanisms normally and getting enough rest due to pain. Those must be corrected based on the origin of the pain. Proper foot care, chiro, or other pain issues diagnosed and then treated by a skilled farrier and vet.
 

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Locking stifles is not usually associated with falling down while asleep. KNEES that can not lock in place during sleep due to arthritis or bad shoeing can cause it. Narcolepsy can also cause it and that can be dangerous to you as a handler/rider as well. I agree a vet visit is in order.
 
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