Have you ever seen a horse receiving CPR?

Elf On A Shelf

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Today I took a horse down to the vets for a work up today and when I arrived there was a horse on the table getting an op. I sorted my horse and its paperwork out and went to be nosey. The horse was finished on the table and now in the padded wake up cell but obviously still out cold. This is something I have never seen either - getting up from a GA.

So the horse was sparkoed on the floor with a towel wrapped round his head coving both eyes but only placed there, not held so it would fall off when the horse was awake enough to move its head. One vet was checking the pulse under the cheek and whilst the pulse was strong the horse wasn't breathing - at all! How utterly bizarre! Even they were confused by this phenomenon! A nurse gave the horses side, just behind the ribs, a couple of good thumps in the hope it would wake the horse a little and kick start its system. That didn't work. Next trick is to poke a needle into the horses muzzle - the muzzle being the most responsive part of the horse they normally ready badly to this and kick start the waking up process - apparently! Well this horse didn't flinch. It was still out cold, nothing was waking it, it still had a good pulse but not breathing.

Bring in 2nd vet who starts chest compression - he knelt on the horses ribcage, toes just on the floor, and almost jumped up and down with his knees onto the rib cage (it's quite hard to describe actually!) Obviously it's half a tonne of animal so delicacy is not needed. He did this 5 or 6 times but to no avail. The horse had taken one half ragged breath in but that was all. So a heart monitor came out to double check the heart rate and sure enough, there it was, strong as ever. But still no breathing. Much longer without breathing and this horse wasn't going to be coming around as by know it was almost to the stage of being unconscious due to lack of oxygen.

So vet 2 gave it another round of chest compressions whilst the 2 nurses were getting the oxygen tank set up again. Both vets and both nurses were utterly confused by this horse. They have never had one do this before. Die yes, make a has of waking up yes, but never one that has a good strong pulse but won't breath.

On the 3rd round of chest compressions just as the oxygen was about to be connected the horse dragged in a full ragged breath. And held it 😂 so vet 2 knocked the breath out of it again. And it dragged in another. And another. And another before finally letting one out again. Like you would when you are completely winded.

So know there was a horse sound asleep on the floor but finally breathing properly and so they closed up the room and left the horse to wake up in the semi dark and scramble to its feet by itself.

But oh no! This horse can't just be normal now can it! Nope! It had somehow managed to turn itself around and flop down, legs first into the door/wall. The vets were watching on cctv the whole time and did have to squish themselves in to pull the horse round a bit. Incredibly dangerous to do with a groggy horse that is most likely quite frightened too. When he was finally almost up on his feet he was up on his front feet but he was standing on his hind fetlocks, feet facing backwards behind him. It looked so uncomfortable and weird! You could see how it is very easy for a horse to break a leg waking in from a ga! The horse stood like this on his fetlocks for about 5min before he had woken up enough to figure out how to stand up on them properly.

So that was my quick introduction to how to do CPR on a horse! Utterly utterly bizarre!
 

Michen

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Yes, and as someone who had a horse whose leg broke when they woke up from a GA- utterly horrible.
 

SOS

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Very interesting!

Have seen lots of CPR on cats and dogs but never worked in equine surgery seriously enough to see it… in small animals we don’t extubate until they are fairly awake. I’m guessing with horses you can’t wait until they are that awake, as they may quite literally jump off the table.
 

PurBee

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Fascinating story, thanks for sharing - those equine surgical teams are very brave imo! I’d love to see behind the scenes of how they work and all the aspects/techniques of dealing with a seriously heavy flight animal.
 

SEL

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I've never seen it but I was on livery with a girl whose horse had gone into cardiac arrest when sedated for gelding as a baby. The vet had brought him round by pumping his heart but I know she worried every time he had to be sedated because they didn't know why it happened

You tend to forget how dangerous GAs are.
 

Elf On A Shelf

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Why on earth were you allowed into an operation area of a vet hospital? Very poor regulation I would have thought.
The stables are next to the operating theatre and you can watch through the glass. You not actually allowed in there though as it is all scrubbed clean etc.

They have no idea why he wasnt breathing. He had been fine when tubed on the table having the oxygen pumped into him. The problem started when he was off the table in the recovery cell.
 

Cowrie

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Never seen that but done CPR equivalent on a goldfish. Would be interesting to watch but not sure I would like randoms gawping at that being done if it was my animal.
 

ponynutz

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Trust me no one but the yard knows what vets I am at or which horse it was. If you can figure it out from what has been said then Poirot has a replacement.
No, but you'd know if this was your horse... I personally wouldn't appreciate it if someone hadn't asked first.

But it's on here now and is an interesting story so thanks for sharing!
 

Michen

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Trust me no one but the yard knows what vets I am at or which horse it was. If you can figure it out from what has been said then Poirot has a replacement.
It sounds like a rather specific set of circumstances, I'm assuming they were relayed back to the owner so wouldn't take much. I am sure they would rather be spared the details of reading about their horse standing on it's fetlocks etc.

I dunno, just feels quite personal/traumatic. If I came on here and someone had watched my horses leg break when he stood up and relayed it on here I'd have been absolutely horrified.
 

Elf On A Shelf

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It sounds like a rather specific set of circumstances, I'm assuming they were relayed back to the owner so wouldn't take much. I am sure they would rather be spared the details of reading about their horse standing on it's fetlocks etc.

I dunno, just feels quite personal/traumatic. If I came on here and someone had watched my horses leg break when he stood up and relayed it on here I'd have been absolutely horrified.
The lack of breathing maybe but the standing on the fetlocks is apparently very common when coming out of a ga.
 

Michen

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The lack of breathing maybe but the standing on the fetlocks is apparently very common when coming out of a ga.
Fine, lack of breathing. Either way it went wrong, some fairly brutal things had to happen to the horse to get it right and it was clearly not what every horse owner hopes for their horse in a GA recovery and I imagine the vet spared them the more horrid details with good reason.
 

nagblagger

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Trying to work out why they would give chest compressions when it had a pulse, surely an et tube passed to inflate lungs would be more appropriate, remove when spontaneous breathing starts. Very odd.
At our vets they have a device, pulley system, that helps aid the standing during recovery so minimises injury. The vets watch, support the horse from a safe area.
 

SEL

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Fine, lack of breathing. Either way it went wrong, some fairly brutal things had to happen to the horse to get it right and it was clearly not what every horse owner hopes for their horse in a GA recovery and I imagine the vet spared them the more horrid details with good reason.
You'd hope they'd just give them the briefest of summaries. I know how traumatized an ex livery was when her horse didn't come round after a GA for colic surgery.

I remember you posting on here when your boy broke his leg. Not something you ever forget xx
 

Burnttoast

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I saw CPR done (unsuccessfully unfortunately) about 30 years ago when I did work experience at a vet hospital. It was a bit of an eye-opener for 15yo me.
 

Elf On A Shelf

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As an ex anaesthetist (human) this makes
No sense at all — sounds like they didnt reverse the paralytic agent properly and they shouldve been able to work that out fairly quickly… and why do chest compressions rather than ventilate … weird.
They were about to reventilate, the horse still had the tube in. I am assuming they were trying to bump start the horse whilst moving all the oxygen equipment?! It's above my pay grade but it was quite interesting to watch.
 

CanteringCarrot

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I'm not hugely bothered my Elf's relaying of the events that transpired. If it were my personal horse and I read this somewhere on the internet, I'd think it a bit weird that a stranger could just watch (our clinics here that I've been to don't allow this), but also understand that we all like to learn and watch things that we don't always get a chance to see (behind the scenes vet stuff). No names, videos, or pictures, so I'd be ok with it.

What I might not be so ok with would be the armchair vet stuff that comes out after something like this is reported. You don't think that'd be bothersome and concerning if the vets and/or owners read it?

I'm not sure why they followed the protocol that they did but I'm not a vet, I wasn't there, and this is something being relayed to me as just a point of interest/something "I've never seen before" type of thing. Not for me to make critiques on the methods used. I can understand asking honest questions though, but I'm not sure that most or anyone here is qualified to answer those questions.
 
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