Opinions / past experience / advice for intermittent behaviour change

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I am needing opinions / past experience / advice following...

My 4yo mare having three very intermittent episodes (once a month every 2 months ish) of blind panic bolting for no reason.

She is not spooky, she can be a fresh horse (she is a 4yo warmblood) but she is never nasty or mean. Is the sweetest horse to do and ride 99.9% of the time.

These episodes she literally becomes a different horse. She is completely terrified, running completely blind, her eyes go back into her head, every muscle is ++tense and she has had a slight nosebleed on 2/3 occasions. Twice it happened in the arena, once on a hack. Episodes lasted for around 5 minutes, then is ++stressed for 10 mins, and then literally back to normal.

All 3 times she has been in hand, and not ridden. She has not put a foot wrong when ridden.

I wrote the first two times off as her being a baby, but it happened again tonight and I do not think I should get back on her for mine / others safety.

She managed to slice her leg open which has has staples in this evening. They are changing dressing tomorrow and when it is my normal vet I will talk to her further about this, but in the mean time I was wondering if anyone had experience of something similar? Good or bad, brutal truths wanted.

Her back, teeth, saddle etc all fine and regularly checked and she had a full set of clear x-ray when she came to me as a 3yo.

Thanks
 

Melody Grey

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I’m afraid I’ve also seen this with a suspected brain tumour- I’m not sure whether a PM was done, it may have been just the vets suspicion. This horse was a true bolter- one that would run without any concern for its own safety. It was PTS, because regardless of the cause, it couldn’t be trusted not to harm itself/ anyone else.
Sorry you’re in this position- hopefully your vet can be more constructive.

ETA- reflecting on the nosebleeds, I’ve seen this in an epileptic....there’s another thread running at the moment on here to that effect.
 

Frumpoon

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If you were insured or had about £1500 handy I’d recommend a bone scan

It might not change the outcome but inform the decision
 
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Thanks for your replies. I was expecting similar :(

This might be a silly question but does anyone know if you can scan a horses brain?


If you were insured or had about £1500 handy I’d recommend a bone scan

It might not change the outcome but inform the decision
What would you be looking for with a bone scan?
 

Frumpoon

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Thanks for your replies. I was expecting similar :(

This might be a silly question but does anyone know if you can scan a horses brain?




What would you be looking for with a bone scan?
I guess from a bone scan I’d be looking for an indication of malformation somewhere that would cause sharp pain but not otherwise show up on other imaging modalities

It would tell you whether there was something there but not help you with whether or not it was fixable

If money is no object I believe a head CT is theoretically possible but would require a GA and careful management that goes with that

If horse is being handled when these episodes occur what is she being handled in?

It’s not as simple as a tooth coming through is it? Probably wouldn’t explain the nosebleeds though…does the blood come from one side or both?
 
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I guess from a bone scan I’d be looking for an indication of malformation somewhere that would cause sharp pain but not otherwise show up on other imaging modalities

It would tell you whether there was something there but not help you with whether or not it was fixable

If money is no object I believe a head CT is theoretically possible but would require a GA and careful management that goes with that

If horse is being handled when these episodes occur what is she being handled in?

It’s not as simple as a tooth coming through is it? Probably wouldn’t explain the nosebleeds though…does the blood come from one side or both?
She is fully insured, although assume if nothing was found then cost would be on me

Once in a head collar, once in a lunge cavesson and once in a bridle

She had the dentist 3 weeks ago and all fine, a little sharp at the back but nothing that would explain it. Also she is very soft and gentle in the mouth, never had any problems relating to mouth

Both sides - very mild but there
 

Frumpoon

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She is fully insured, although assume if nothing was found then cost would be on me

Once in a head collar, once in a lunge cavesson and once in a bridle

She had the dentist 3 weeks ago and all fine, a little sharp at the back but nothing that would explain it. Also she is very soft and gentle in the mouth, never had any problems relating to mouth

Both sides - very mild but there
Ah…that blood coming from both sides is a worry

One side at a time can be a blood vessel popping through exercise or excitement or similar but both sides might indicate something further up

How soon can your vet come?
 

meleeka

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She is fully insured, although assume if nothing was found then cost would be on me

Once in a head collar, once in a lunge cavesson and once in a bridle

She had the dentist 3 weeks ago and all fine, a little sharp at the back but nothing that would explain it. Also she is very soft and gentle in the mouth, never had any problems relating to mouth

Both sides - very mild but there
You wouldn’t be liable even if they don’t find anything, as long as you don’t go over the limit for claims. Investigations for things are usually covered regardless of the outcome.

Do speak to your vet and less us know how it goes.
 

I'm Dun

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You wouldn’t be liable even if they don’t find anything, as long as you don’t go over the limit for claims. Investigations for things are usually covered regardless of the outcome.

Do speak to your vet and less us know how it goes.
Sadly thats not true and has caught more than one person out. If nothing is found, you are liable fir the vets fees.
 

Tiddlypom

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Sadly thats not true and has caught more than one person out. If nothing is found, you are liable fir the vets fees.
If nothing is found after vet investigations, and the episodes are deemed 'behavioural', then the insurance won't pay.

We had this with the late maxicob, who was randomly tanking off without warning. Vet though it was likley behavioural, and SEIB said that they wouldn't pay out for vet checks if it was. The vet checks found bilateral hind PSD, so all vet costs were covered.

OP, I'm sorry that this is happening to your horse, but it does sound like there is going to be a physical issue causing these episodes. I hope that you find out what it is and that it can be fixed.
 

Trouper

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Sadly, my experience many years ago was also a brain tumour. Even if it is just a nerve getting pinged somehow you can never know what, where, how it might be triggered in the future and it would just not be safe to continue riding - or, possibly, even handling from the ground during an episode. Your mare also sounds as if she gets really distressed when this happens so I would think long and hard about even keeping as a field companion.

I hope your vet can give you some more information and advice.
 

scats

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Sounds very like a tumour, as others have said. A friend had to put her horse down due to one- even out in the field it would suddenly start running blindly and the worry was that it would seriously injure itself, another horse or even a person.

I hope you get some answers.
 

teddypops

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Sadly thats not true and has caught more than one person out. If nothing is found, you are liable fir the vets fees.
That must depend on your policy because Petplan will pay even if nothing is found. I had X-rays, scans and a scope on one pony and nothing was found. On another pony, she had a 24hr ecg at a vet clinic to monitor her heart. No issue was found and the insurance paid the bill.
 
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Unfortunately not very good news from vet either. She offered three potential diagnosis (I was quite upset on the phone so may have got a little bit wrong)

1) Heart, almost like she has a little heart attack and then panics in flight/fight response to this pain. More unlikely as she thinks it would happen more often when her heart rate increases, like when she spooks/worries but can potentially be fixed or helped at least if discovered. She passed a 5* vetting at the end of last year which they do test the heart on and nothing was flagged.

2) Nerves firing/entrapment , however the least likely option she feels as we would see other symptoms / some form of balance issue / lameness and would be more likely to have pain when ridden

3) Brain - more likely considering what I described / how intermittent and quick the behaviour is. Number of things it could be e.g. tumour, epilepsy...

They can do a neurological exam at the hospital, including the heart which I think I will do

They can head CT too but she said they only pick up some brain issues on a scan as sometimes too internal. And there isn't anything they can do for this really even if they find something, they wouldn’t operate.

:( :( :(
 

Pearlsasinger

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I'm really sorry to see this. It's a long shot but I found that my extremely unpredictable mare was sensitive t/allergic to a range of feeds. If you do feed her anything atm, I would strip it right back to grass in any of its many forms. I will say that mine wasn't quite as extreme as yours in her behaviour.
 

Snowfilly

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So sorry; I agree that sounds like a brain tumour. I knew a horse who was similar and ended up breaking his neck running into a wall the third time he bolted blind.

My friend died of a brain tumour and he had random moments of intense pain where all he could do was scream and fall to the floor and then be alright half an hour later, so I suspect the blind panic seen in horses is a similar response to pain beyond belief.
 

Sossigpoker

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My guess would be either hormonal issues or pain. But in either case this warrants a vet visit. Mine started lashing out and turned out to be a wobbler- he was also about 4 at the time.
 

Rowreach

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Unfortunately not very good news from vet either. She offered three potential diagnosis (I was quite upset on the phone so may have got a little bit wrong)

1) Heart, almost like she has a little heart attack and then panics in flight/fight response to this pain. More unlikely as she thinks it would happen more often when her heart rate increases, like when she spooks/worries but can potentially be fixed or helped at least if discovered. She passed a 5* vetting at the end of last year which they do test the heart on and nothing was flagged.

2) Nerves firing/entrapment , however the least likely option she feels as we would see other symptoms / some form of balance issue / lameness and would be more likely to have pain when ridden

3) Brain - more likely considering what I described / how intermittent and quick the behaviour is. Number of things it could be e.g. tumour, epilepsy...

They can do a neurological exam at the hospital, including the heart which I think I will do

They can head CT too but she said they only pick up some brain issues on a scan as sometimes too internal. And there isn't anything they can do for this really even if they find something, they wouldn’t operate.

:(:(:(
Sorry to hear this. I agree I would have the neuro tests done.

I had one with a tumour, it’s more common than you think.
 
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So sorry to hear this

Clutching at straws somewhat but as a young mare are her cycles regular? Do these episodes coincide with her coming into season at all?
Look back at dates 25th April, 4th June and 27th July were the dates. Hard to tell when she is in season but doesn't seem to be a pattern?

Vet has just been to do a work up on her.

Her eyes have something slightly concerning in them which they are going to get the eye specialist to look at, other than that her balance, trot up, circles etc all 10/10.

They can do further neuro assessment at the hospital and if find anything then insurance can pay for a head CT. She is going to talk to specialist today.
 

ycbm

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Sorry to hear your prognosis, I'm another who would do the neuro tests and then call it a day if nothing fixable is found.

I had a head banger once and my vet advised me that we could spent a ton of money identifying what was causing it, but that when we knew, if it could even be found, it would be very unlikely that any treatment would be possible. He was in uncontrollable pain and began to fit so I put to sleep.
.
 
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Griffin

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I am so sorry to read your update. As other posters have said, tumours are sadly more common than people think, we have lost at least two in the last four years at my yard to tumours.

You mention a problem with her eyes? I wonder if this is perhaps either linked to a tumour or whether vision problems could be causing bolting? A friend of mine's horse started to randomly bolt before they were diagnosed with uveitis. However, that would not explain the nosebleeds and other symptoms.

Whatever happens, you are doing the right thing by thoroughly investigating and seeking a diagnosis, as hard as it may be to hear. Lots of hugs.
 
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