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One of my clients witnessed her pony "fall asleep" and then start to lie down in the crossties while doing her girth up. I have seen her girth before- she tends to tighten it too quickly at times.

I did not see it myself- she said she literally did up the girth and he shut his eyes and started going down to his knees. She stopped him by quickly undoing the crossties and pulling him forward.

Vet has not been out yet- Iv heard of it happening in the past- can anyone shed some light on what we may see both testing wise and as a diagnosis?
 

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Sounds more like he passed out. Very interesting, for starters I would too would check with the vet, but also have a chiropractor come do an adjustment maybe their is a pinched nerve. If their sternum is out it can cause them to be cinchy, but never heard of them passing out. I will be interested to hear what the vet has to say.
 

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I have read that a horse who is very scared can faint. Its part of the fight - flight response. They get scared, freeze, and then if the scary stimulus is still present they buckle at the knees and faint. The article was called Horse Body Language and was written by Marie Hoffman. Its on the net, try google and see what you can find. She also pointed out that it can happen especially with girthing as the horse can't flee the girth. Have a read and see what you think. Hopefully the horse's health is fine, it would have been quite scary to see.
 

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There was an Arabian at my barn that did the same thing. Never had a problem before, then my friend got her out, as the owner wanted her to ride the horse while the owner was out of town. Friend tightened the girth, and she's always very gentle, and for some reason, the horse just went down. Took her a few minutes to get up too. I would get his back checked out by a chiro, and maybe even a vet, and make sure there isn't something big going on. I know a TB I refused to ride (cost me my job too), because he was truly narcoleptic. I would watch him in the mornings literally fall to his knees asleep, then jerk awake, he'd do it turned out, so I refused to ride him even though the owner of the riding school said he was just fine. I wasn't willing to risk it. It was obvious that it was a big problem though, not just a one time thing. Keep us updated, I hope everything turns out okay.
 

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I've known a few horses that do this! Don't panic-- I would bet that your client's pony is 100% fine. :)

The horse's vagal nerve runs right under the girth area; for some horses, a tight girth pinching this nerve can cause them to buckle in front and fall to their knees. For others-- they are overly sensitive to pressure on the nerve and start to pass out! A mare I ride right now does this if you cinch up too quickly (and she's a giant warmblood... talk about scary to see her drifting off and going down!). This is a normal response to vagal nerve stimulation.

One possible soultion is to cinch up both sides slowly, one hole at a time. When the girth starts to tighten, take breaks to pick up and stretch the front legs forward and up (at the knee). This will pull the area underneath the girth and keep it from pinching.

Another option is to see if a wider (to distribute the pressure) or narrower (to avoid a certain area) girth or even a non-elastic girth solves the problem.

The best solution I've found: cinch up halfway in the crossties and finish cinching when you're getting ready to mount. Your client shouldn't have problems so long as she takes care to go slow.
 

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Thanks for the info existential, I wondered if it wasn't something like that, but the "trainer" at the barn (not a good trainer for many reasons in my book) said that girthing up a horse wouldn't cause a problem like that. You learn something new every day. I guess this Arab is just super sensitive, as my friend does cinch up really slowly. I'll let her know what you said, she'll feel better hearing that. She still thinks that maybe she did something wrong, and feels really bad.
 

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It is not technically called narcolepsy but some horses do, indeed, have sleep disorders. It's also not as uncommon as one would think.

This very credible link also has a couple videos showing equine sleep disorder.

It's a short article that starts out by saying:
In the February 2007 issue of EQUUS magazine, California veterinarian Joe Bertone, DVM, describes an equine sleep disorder he has been studying for more than a decade. It occurs when horses, for physical or psychological reasons, are unable to lie down for adequate deep (REM) sleep.
Equine Sleep Disorder Videos

Google "equine sleep disorder" and you'll get a lot of hits.
 

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I knew an old tb mare who would fall to her knees after she drifted off. She usually can catch her self but once in a blue moon she will fall entirely over. THAT wakes her up lol. poor things looks so confused.
 

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Yeah what existential says is correct & the most likely cause, nothing like so called narcolepsy. In horses, failure of the 'stay apparatus'(eg high heels causing bucked knees) is a common cause of exhaustion & associated 'sleep disorders'
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I had to care for a narcoleptic OTTB, she was quite dangerous if left unattended in the crossties. She would slowly relax her head, droop her eyes, then slowly collapse, and about 1/3 of the way down she would be popped by the crossties and she would startle awake. Sometimes it would freak her out for a little bit until she re-gained her bearings a bit. I would be very careful around this pony, he could fall on someone... Unfortunately I don’t know of any cure other than keep watch. Good luck!
 

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It's probably not narcolepsy. There's a nerve in the girth area called the vagus nerve and it can cause some horses to pass out if the girth is tightened too much too fast. Horses like that need to have their girths tightened up slowly and in multiple steps.
 

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This nerve could affect the pony's heartbeat too, so I suggest if possible to take a pulse while she tightens the girth? Might help give some confirmation.
 

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I knew an old tb mare who would fall to her knees after she drifted off. She usually can catch her self but once in a blue moon she will fall entirely over. THAT wakes her up lol. poor things looks so confused.
My husband's mustang does this! Tho not usually when saddling, but it has happened. Oddly enough- it is when he gets his boots put on! Or just standing there waiting. He is very calm and low key, and can fall asleep at the drop of a hat standing there... so we assume he just gets so comfy he is out! He just stayed down on his knees one time, asleep, until I helped him up... goofy boy!
Now we are sure to go mess with him and make him move his feet when he waits... all is fine now.
 

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I wouldn't call it 'goofy' Gracie, something is wrong if a horse a) can't sleep standing up by locking its 'stay apparatus' and b) if it gets so exhausted it literally falls asleep. Interested what kind of boots appear to be linked with the prob? Tendon boots by any chance?
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I wouldn't call it 'goofy' Gracie, something is wrong if a horse a) can't sleep standing up by locking its 'stay apparatus' and b) if it gets so exhausted it literally falls asleep. Interested what kind of boots appear to be linked with the prob? Tendon boots by any chance?
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Nope, not tendon, it is hoof boots. While I would agree that most times it is probably an issue. In our case, I think it is the cinch nerve, now that I think about it. He has never had the issue anywhere else. Since the boots always went on after the cinch, I would bet it is a nerve, but it didn't get fully tweaked until he got his leg bent to have a boot put on. Now that my husband knows he does it, he checks behind his cinching, and he gets the horse's attention to make sure he is okay.
I def. don't think it is exhaustion. You should see this horse- he is Eeyore in the most sedate horse form ever. Not much gets him, he is that super laid back exam the world slowly type personality. The vets and farrier all love him and haven't mentioned they think anything to be wrong with it.
He has no issues whatsoever sleeping in the pasture.

Thanks though :)
 

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Google Endospink. He works at a race track in Japan and uses this nerve to assert his dominance over difficult racehorses. It works well for him and the horse continues to race rather than become dog food.
 
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