I think my horse has had a mental breakdown

Paint it Lucky

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Basically has anyone experienced this? Long story short my horse was very ill several weeks ago, she had to go to the vets for emergency treatment, she went into shock and nearly died. She was put into isolation as they didn't know what was wrong with her and thought it might be infectious. She did get better but I think the whole experience blew her mind. She was not the same horse when she came home and took a long time to recover physically, she lost masses of weight and wouldn't eat for weeks so obviously this affected her but I also feel it really upset her mentally. She still isn't right mentally now. I think being in an isolation stable, not able to see out as there were full bars on the door and only a blank wall opposite and no horses in visual contact, and in an unknown place has really upset her, plus the shock of all the treatment, being rushed to hospital etc. She is now well enough to be ridden again and I have started doing some gentle work with her but although she understands all the aids she used to know she is super on edge all the time. It's as though she's forgotten that she used to be confident, she is rising nine and it's like riding a just backed three year old. She's never been the bravest of horses but now she is quite literally afraid of her own shadow and it is genuine fear, she will stand and shake at things that shouldn't be scary, I don't know if it reminds her of being at the vets somehow? Anyway I haven't explained this very well but just wondered if anyone had experienced anything similar? Do horses get over big traumas like this or will it always affect her?
 

Equi

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The poor thing. Is she getting turned out again? Did they ever find out what was wrong? Do you think maybe a summer off might help?
 

fairyclare

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Not the same exactly but, a similar thing happened to my mare and I, I will try and keep it brief....... Lia is my old girl and Zara is my youngster.

I had my accident on 10th June '14, I was away at a friends yard having a jump lesson, I fell and got carted off to the hospital, my friend and her husband drove my lorry and horse home and put her to bed with the help of my step dad, Lia was still at home but I had left her out because the old wench wouldn't be caught! Someone she doesn't know got her in, (issue in itself, she is VERY needy to me) then someone else (my instructor) bought Zara home. I was admitted and was in hospital for 7 days, I managed to persuade the weekend doctor to let me home for a few hours on Saturday. I went straight to see the horses, I knew Lia would be off with me but she was really weird, wouldn't look at me, only wanted my mum and was even odd with her, Zara was all over me like a rash............
I went back to hospital and was discharged 2 days later, Lia was better with me once I started being able to see her daily but I was very ill and really struggled to be able to see them for more than a few minutes a day, so my mum was chief groom, bless her.
Throw an emergency trip back to hospital with complications of the kidney injury and then an emergency vets visit for Zara at 11pm because she had cystitis! Lia does not cope with any change of routine so this was all causing her a lot of anxiety.
I had to have second op 6 weeks after the 1st op, I did manage to have a sit on Lia, despite being completely broken lol
During all this she started to box walk and would literally walk in a perfect circle for hours, always the same direction and she would be almost trance like whilst she was doing it, nothing would stop her, even me standing in her box! When she was really bad I just walked with her (we have 12ft by 16ft boxes, maybe even bigger)
In the field she would stand staring into the fence or the bramble bush, other liveries noticed and kept telling me, I also saw her wandering around in the field appearing to have no purpose to her wandering and leaving the heard and her friends to wander up the field on her own.
I spoke to the vet because all her symptoms were pointing to liver disease/damage. She was brill and we arranged to take her in to the practice for a liver biopsy, they run bloods on site so they were taken and run whilst the vet examined her and did basic neuro checks
bloods were perfectly normal and showed no evidence of any issue with any organs and she looks a picture of heath (vet was shocked at her age, thought she was mid teens!)
Vet couldn't offer any explanations and suggested I kept a diary (had already started that) I changer their stables as Zara's is bigger and quieter, changed her bedding to a massive straw bed as it was thought it could be sleep deprivation (???) nothing really helped but I was by now well enough to spend a lot of time with them, I was off sick from work and they are in the yard/fields behind my house, so I spent the summer sitting in the paddocks with them.
She did stop the walking, I used coligone liquid as she came in from the field and that really seemed to help too (at this point we are also wondering about ulcers) also kept her belly slathered in nettex itch stop salve as vet wondered if she had harvest mites which were irritating her.
Fast fwd nearly a year, I was chatting to a friend who is also a holistic healer and very spiritual and generally a bit off the wall! I explained everything that had happened and she immediately said when did it start - penny dropped for me re timing and and that was kind of how we came about the PTSD. I was also due to start Bowen treatment with Lia to help her and when the lovely Bowen lady came and assessed her and treat her, her judgement was Lia doesn't know where she finishes and I begin, I know we have a very close bond and I hadn't realised just how much the events had affected her. Now I look back and can see how it all fits into place. She is so sensitive to any change, such a mummies girl!

Sorry, was a bit longer than anticipated!!
 

Paint it Lucky

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Thanks everyone, she goes out daily but the fields are too wet where she is to go out full time and there isn't a lot of grass, where she lost so much weight I'd rather have her in more so I can feed her lots and keep her warm and sheltered etc. nato I did consider this but as she is very settled where she is I thought more moving home might blow her mind even more, it is what I'd do ideally but due to other circumstances it's not really an option right now. fairyclare, yes your mare does sound a lot like mine! I've only had mine two years so I doubt she is as bonded to me, I have been doing a lot of ground work with her lately in the hope she'll trust me more, I had to drag her onto the trailer when she was really ill and really didn't want to go (she normally loads easily) and I don't think she's forgiven me for the whole thing. Did the Bowen lady help your mare?
 

Pilatesclare

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I'm sorry about your horse, sounds like a scary experience for everyone.

I had a similar thing with my boy although it was due to an accident in the horse box. It did affect him a lot, he was like a different horse - trying to jump out of his stable, couldn't be left alone, panicked a lot over little things. It was like he was always holding his breath. I eventually decided to get a lady out who did shiatsu on him. It was amazing! After a few minutes he just seemed to let go of all the tension and was back to his old self. We had a couple of sessions and now have it done very occasionally.

If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I would never believe it but maybe worth a try?
 

pepsimaxrock

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I'm sorry if I'm going to be of little help also but Thankyou for posting this. I think I need to be kinder to my mare who thankfully seems very very well 8 months post colic surgery. I'm expecting it to have had no effect on her and for her to work as well as ever - and I'm concentrating only on me. Oh dear - thanks for pulling me up - and all good wishes for a return to normality with yours xxx
 

DD265

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Bowen definitely helps with the emotions as well as physical - I've had treatments and so has my horse. The emotions that came up were related to things I'd buried deep from childhood and wasn't even really aware of, but they were extremely strong. On my first session I actually ended up in shock, and lay on the table for 30 minutes shaking like a leaf.

You could consider a healer and/or animal communicator depending on your feelings towards them. EFT is also becoming popular with animals although I have no personal experience of it with horses. I understand that EMDR (which I've had personally and found to be extremely powerful) can also be done with horses. I don't know how you'd go about finding practitioners for the latter two though.
 

fairyclare

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Bowen helped immensely!

I am a cynical old wench and have to admit I couldn't really see how a light touch could help - I have changed my opinion!
My lovely Lia is SO much better and I think the calming and relaxing way bowen is done has helped her to deal with events massively.
She is an internaliser and to someone that doesn't know her she would come across as a bolshy aggressive mare, she isn't at all, she is very insecure and is always seeking my guidance and reassurance.

My other mare is the complete opposite and bowen did nothing for her at all.
 

laura_nash

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My first thought would be ulcers with all that trauma and then not eating properly for that long. You probably wouldn't want to have her scoped (I expect she has had enough of the vets for now!) but might be worth trying her on a supplement? If that helped noticeably you could then ask vets about treating for ulcers without scoping?
 

Paint it Lucky

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Thankyou so much everyone's who's replied, it's really useful to hear other people's experiences. There is an animal communicator near us so I might look into having him out or find someone who does shiatsu, bowen etc. My mare is getting better slowly but it has definitely had a massive mental effect on her as well as physical, she is very sensitive bless her! I have been treating her for ulcers Laura as yes I did assume she'd get them after barely eating for so long. She has put a lot of weight on now and looks alot better. Her physical issues seem to be resolving it's just the mental ones I'm now worried about. Hopefully she'll get there. I lunged her today and she would go around beautifully relaxed and then for no reason suddenly spook at nothing and upset herself, then relax again gradually and then suddenly spook again. I could not see anything that had changed or might spook her. :( She just seems very irrational at the moment but I'm in no rush so will just have to see how she goes.
 
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