Has anyone heard of equine sleepwalker syndrome?

Joined
22 July 2013
Messages
2,154
Just heard of a horse in Denmark that became ill and the symptoms where that the horse couldn't stop walking. It walked through electric fences and into a ditch, where, even though it was upside down, it continued to try to walk. It's owner was only able to steer it into a stable, where it broke through the wall and continued walking, unaware of anything around it. The horse had to be euthanized.
The owners father was an old farmer who recognised this as sleepwalker syndrome. Other older farmers had come across this in the past, believed to be connected with lack of light and stabling over winter. The vet had never heard of it and Google searches come up with no results. Has anyone ever come across this before?
 
Joined
27 October 2016
Messages
2,298
Location
Ireland
Just heard of a horse in Denmark that became ill and the symptoms where that the horse couldn't stop walking. It walked through electric fences and into a ditch, where, even though it was upside down, it continued to try to walk. It's owner was only able to steer it into a stable, where it broke through the wall and continued walking, unaware of anything around it. The horse had to be euthanized.
The owners father was an old farmer who recognised this as sleepwalker syndrome. Other older farmers had come across this in the past, believed to be connected with lack of light and stabling over winter. The vet had never heard of it and Google searches come up with no results. Has anyone ever come across this before?
That sounds horrendous ☹️
 
Joined
22 July 2013
Messages
2,154
Rabatsa. I looked up Sand Sage poisoning but couldn't find enough detail to be sure, but my guess would be some kind of poisoning too.
 

cobgoblin

Well-Known Member
Joined
19 November 2011
Messages
4,428
There is something called Walkabout disease in Australia where the horse wanders about apparently blind....due to liver damage from eating toxic plants.

Probably not the same plants in Denmark but I would guess any severe liver damage could cause the same symptoms.
 

windand rain

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 November 2012
Messages
3,751
Had a dog that did something similar we put it down to brain damage causing petite mal type fits. He would trot off in one direction and nothing could get in his way he would suddenly shake his head and become confused but aware. He didnt make old bones his heart failed when he was 7. I suppose a horse being bigger would do more damage
 
Joined
22 July 2013
Messages
2,154
Thank you Cobgoblin and Wind and rain. (Can't do the quote function ). Walkabout Disease sounds similar. The horse seemed to be in a stupor and was compulsively walking. It was very tragic as the horse could not be contained. His owner was devastated.
 

JanetGeorge

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 June 2001
Messages
6,424
Location
Shropshire/Worcs. borders
There is something called Walkabout disease in Australia where the horse wanders about apparently blind....due to liver damage from eating toxic plants.

Probably not the same plants in Denmark but I would guess any severe liver damage could cause the same symptoms.
Yep - known as Kimberley Walkabout (because of the area it's common in.) Been around for years. In the 'old' days, when it was rife, mules were often used for mustering because they didn't get it. It IS an unpalatable plant, fortunately, but shortage of grass - which is VERY frequent during droughts in the Northern Territory and Western Australia - means horses will eat it. There are various plants that CAN cause it if they are eaten. Luckily, horses are fussy eaters (sheep happily eat fresh ragwort - horses won't) and as long as there are tastier alternatives, no problem. But in impoverished areas, where it's eat it or die of starvation, horses eat it - and die.
 

poiuytrewq

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 April 2008
Messages
7,550
Location
Cotswolds
My horse had a massive brain trauma and he kind of did similar.
I couldn’t make him walk at all, he just wouldn’t/couldn’t but after much forcing and perseverance started moving forwards but once he was going it was just as described by the op. He kind of ploughed on, ripping his door chain off and across the yard into a gate. I was able to turn him but it was seriously hard and took a massive circle. Back into his stable where thank god he stopped and stayed in the same place again refusing to move for a few days. It’s not something I’ve ever seen or even heard of before.
 

poiuytrewq

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 April 2008
Messages
7,550
Location
Cotswolds
There is something called Walkabout disease in Australia where the horse wanders about apparently blind....due to liver damage from eating toxic plants.

Probably not the same plants in Denmark but I would guess any severe liver damage could cause the same symptoms.
Omg, so the horse above I’ve just mentioned also went blind and had very high liver enzymes.
I’m in the U.K. but this is a very weird read for me.
 

cobgoblin

Well-Known Member
Joined
19 November 2011
Messages
4,428
Omg, so the horse above I’ve just mentioned also went blind and had very high liver enzymes.
I’m in the U.K. but this is a very weird read for me.
Erm, ... The horses with Walkabout disease 'appear' blind from their behaviour, but I'm not sure if they actually are blind...
This is becoming a weird read for me too now!

Of course head trauma could cause cortical blindness.....
 
Last edited:
Joined
22 July 2013
Messages
2,154
Erm, ... The horses with Walkabout disease 'appear' blind from their behaviour, but I'm not sure if they actually are blind...
This is becoming a weird read for me too now!

Of course head trauma could cause cortical blindness.....
The horse in Denmark was able to see but was almost in a trance, I think. However, the onset of symptoms was very acute before the horse had to be pts.
 

poiuytrewq

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 April 2008
Messages
7,550
Location
Cotswolds
When you said your horse had brain trauma... Did you mean that he had suffered an injury or that the vet had said it to explain his problems?
That's what they put it down too. There was no external sign of injury and i had actually been with him in the time before hand, so from him being normal to the first sign something wasn't right. I didn't see anything happen but i do know that in humans symptoms of brain injury can come about several hours or even days after impact.
 
Top