What would you think? Horse falling over when girthed

FestiveFuzz

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So not sure if this is all related or not but I'm having a bit of a flap and not sure if I'm panicking unnecessarily or not. No one else on my yard seems worried hence wanting to get a sense check on what the next steps should be?

Took my boy out last weekend with a friend and her ex-racer and had a bit of a hoon...think friend's horses canter is my boy's gallop so was pretty fast and furious but good fun. H was obviously a bit tired on the way home, didn't pick his feet up properly and stacked it quite dramatically tripping over a root...cue hooves flailing and him landing on his knees. Thankfully my reins were like washing lines at the time so whilst it sounded and felt horrendous he quickly got himself back up. Was fine the rest of the ride, checked him over once home and trotted up fine but decided to give him the next day off just in case.

Monday we had the saddler out. We've been using our dressage saddle for the last month as our GP wasn't fitting after a drop in weight and muscling up a bit. Saddler had to take our GP away to work on and had a look at our dressage saddle whilst she was there and decided we should go up from medium to medium/wide as she felt it was a tad perched at present, she was in a rush though so didn't do the usual sit on before waving her off. We had a lady come for a second viewing straight after the saddler so I didn't ride on the Monday and had the YO exercise him a couple of times during the week due to work commitments and lunged the other days and he seemed his usual self although YO mentioned he'd kicked up at his stomach a few times when she'd ridden during the week but eventually settled and seemed fine if a little reluctant to stretch down. Went to ride on Saturday and he was a bit fidgety whilst I was doing the girth which is unusual but put it down to the torrential rain and blustery wind outside. Took him in the school for half an hour and he seemed a little bit sluggish but again put that down to the awful weather. Decided to take him around the fields afterwards and it was like riding a banana...just generally felt off so I turned for home and hopped off.

We had a lesson with a new trainer yesterday. Tacked up as usual and was slowly easing the girth up one hole at a time on each side when out of nowhere his legs just seemed to crumple and he fell to the floor before clambering back up. Shouted for the YO as it gave me a bit of a fright and she checked him over and said perhaps I'd just taken him by surprise and done it up too far...but the girth was on the usual holes so it seems unlikely. I was going to cancel the lesson but both YO and trainer convinced me otherwise so I popped his saddle back on and girthed up as usual and everything was fine. Again felt a little blocked in the school but trainer said he didn't look it...although given this was our first lesson with her she doesn't really have much to compare to.

Saddler is back out this week with our GP and I've asked her to re-check his dressage saddle as the change seems to have come about since we swapped gullets. Physio is out next week and have already text to mention all of the above in case this is a mechanical issue. At this stage would you also consider getting a vet out to check his back over and give him a general MOT? Could ulcers cause such behaviour? Have just discovered yard had decided to stop giving him a net whilst he's in during the day (on full livery) as he's still a bit tubby. Have quickly rectified that now but does mean for the last few weeks he's been in during the day with nothing to eat.

Just really worried about my boy as he's never done anything like this before and I hate the idea of him being in pain.
 

ester

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It is possible to tweak a nerve when you do the girth up which will make them go down so I wouldn't read too much into that.

Also rather than the saddle I would say it was entirely possible he overexerted galloping with your friend and is stiff from that or tweaked himself when he went down so perhaps a check over by the physio?
 

Nudibranch

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This. My first TB would sometimes do that if you weren't careful girthing up. The vet called it vaso-vagal syncope, which is basically a lengthy description of fainting.
She did end up narcoleptic but I dont think it was connected. There are certain pressure points which csn cause it..think of a man being kicked between the legs and crumpling. That's not just sheer pain!
 

FestiveFuzz

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It is possible to tweak a nerve when you do the girth up which will make them go down so I wouldn't read too much into that.

Also rather than the saddle I would say it was entirely possible he overexerted galloping with your friend and is stiff from that or tweaked himself when he went down so perhaps a check over by the physio?
Thanks, I know it's possible to tweak a nerve but I'm a natural worrier when it comes to H. With the galloping he's reasonably fit (in interval work for at least an hour 6 days a week) so it's not out of the ordinary to do a long, fast ride every couple of weeks. Completely agree he could have tweaked something when he tripped but unfortunately our physio is very popular and next week is the earliest she could get out to us.
 

FestiveFuzz

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This. My first TB would sometimes do that if you weren't careful girthing up. The vet called it vaso-vagal syncope, which is basically a lengthy description of fainting.
She did end up narcoleptic but I dont think it was connected. There are certain pressure points which csn cause it..think of a man being kicked between the legs and crumpling. That's not just sheer pain!
Ha I actually suffered from vaso-vagal as a child...basically would forget to breath if something shocked me or I hurt myself, so understand what that's like. I think I wouldn't have worried so much if the incidents hadn't all happened in the space of a week.
 

Red-1

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When I was a lot younger I had a mare slip on a trailer ramp and go down. After that she was funny to girth, and eventually started to go down when girthed up. It was very specific, she would brace and go tense, and if you relaxed the girth she would be OK, and if you just stopped she would then collapse. It was not like a faint though, it was with tension, and on the floor she would paddle. Once up she would want to run, but could be restrained.

Numerous visits from the vet. Initial thought was that she had tweaked herself on slipping, so she was rested. It was before physios were really used.

After the rest she seemed better, but it started to creep in again, this time vet thought it was small sarcoid near the girth, so that was frozen/incised off. She had all summer off and seemed OK, after which it again started to creep back.

The funny thing was that once she had done her little "freeze" she would then be fine to ride, and I mean go well. She was also always good to ride bareback, so I don't think it was ulcers.

Eventually it got worse, and I retired her.

The vet saw a bad attack, he reckoned she was blind during a "freeze", and after consultation with Liverpool said she had damaged a nerve near the girth, it would probably improve with rest, but would recur with work. She only fell a few times, but when she did it was dangerous for the handler, and obviously scary for her.

I am sorry my experience with similar symptoms is not more positive, but I would be careful, as a friend in the USA had a similar horse, and that one fell on my friend when the horse froze, and the rider had a badly injured leg. If it were me I would let vet and physio work in conjunction with each other.
 

OWLIE185

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Get a vet in too check him thoroughly out. Also when hacking him out put on knee boots so that he does'nt damage his needs if he stumbles. Don't Gallop him until you get him sufficiently fit.
 

FestiveFuzz

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When I was a lot younger I had a mare slip on a trailer ramp and go down. After that she was funny to girth, and eventually started to go down when girthed up. It was very specific, she would brace and go tense, and if you relaxed the girth she would be OK, and if you just stopped she would then collapse. It was not like a faint though, it was with tension, and on the floor she would paddle. Once up she would want to run, but could be restrained.

Numerous visits from the vet. Initial thought was that she had tweaked herself on slipping, so she was rested. It was before physios were really used.

After the rest she seemed better, but it started to creep in again, this time vet thought it was small sarcoid near the girth, so that was frozen/incised off. She had all summer off and seemed OK, after which it again started to creep back.

The funny thing was that once she had done her little "freeze" she would then be fine to ride, and I mean go well. She was also always good to ride bareback, so I don't think it was ulcers.

Eventually it got worse, and I retired her.

The vet saw a bad attack, he reckoned she was blind during a "freeze", and after consultation with Liverpool said she had damaged a nerve near the girth, it would probably improve with rest, but would recur with work. She only fell a few times, but when she did it was dangerous for the handler, and obviously scary for her.

I am sorry my experience with similar symptoms is not more positive, but I would be careful, as a friend in the USA had a similar horse, and that one fell on my friend when the horse froze, and the rider had a badly injured leg. If it were me I would let vet and physio work in conjunction with each other.
Thanks Red. He was completely calm throughout and didn't seem to freeze as such...just appeared to wince as if I'd caught him funny and was absolutely fine afterwards...no wanting to run away or anything, just sttod back up but as it's never happened before I'm keen to get to the bottom of it. I'll have a chat with our vet and see what they suggest.
 

FestiveFuzz

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Get a vet in too check him thoroughly out. Also when hacking him out put on knee boots so that he does'nt damage his needs if he stumbles. Don't Gallop him until you get him sufficiently fit.
He's not tripped like that before so I genuinely think it was just a case of him being a bit too on the forehand as I wasn't making him actively walk out and him not paying attention. As mentioned previously he's ridden 6 days a week, in about an hours trot/canter work during the week and longer at weekends so he's not particularly unfit and we tend to do faster, longer rides every couple of weeks. This has been built up over many months so I'd say he's sufficiently fit for his present workload. I'll give our vet a call and see what their thoughts are though.
 

william95

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It is possible to tweak a nerve when you do the girth up which will make them go down so I wouldn't read too much into that.

Also rather than the saddle I would say it was entirely possible he overexerted galloping with your friend and is stiff from that or tweaked himself when he went down so perhaps a check over by the physio?
I agree. I had a horse in for breaking in several years ago that used to do exactly the same as yours when being girthed up. It started about 4 weeks after the saddle being introduced so it wasn't an initial reaction to the saddle. I had the vet out to check the horse and he saw it collapse when girthed but horse was otherwise fine and healthy and the vet concluded that the frenic nerve (not sure if that's the spelling) was being pinched. He said this nerve controls the diaphragm hence when it was pinched the horse collapsing. He said that with some horses as they develop and grow the nerve can more easily be caught whilst their body is changing. He recommended this horse have some time off to develop abit more - which it did and it's now a versatile riding horse with no problems. Hope it's something simple like this with yours.
 

fatpiggy

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When I was a lot younger I had a mare slip on a trailer ramp and go down. After that she was funny to girth, and eventually started to go down when girthed up. It was very specific, she would brace and go tense, and if you relaxed the girth she would be OK, and if you just stopped she would then collapse. It was not like a faint though, it was with tension, and on the floor she would paddle. Once up she would want to run, but could be restrained.

Numerous visits from the vet. Initial thought was that she had tweaked herself on slipping, so she was rested. It was before physios were really used.

After the rest she seemed better, but it started to creep in again, this time vet thought it was small sarcoid near the girth, so that was frozen/incised off. She had all summer off and seemed OK, after which it again started to creep back.

The funny thing was that once she had done her little "freeze" she would then be fine to ride, and I mean go well. She was also always good to ride bareback, so I don't think it was ulcers.

Eventually it got worse, and I retired her.

The vet saw a bad attack, he reckoned she was blind during a "freeze", and after consultation with Liverpool said she had damaged a nerve near the girth, it would probably improve with rest, but would recur with work. She only fell a few times, but when she did it was dangerous for the handler, and obviously scary for her.

I am sorry my experience with similar symptoms is not more positive, but I would be careful, as a friend in the USA had a similar horse, and that one fell on my friend when the horse froze, and the rider had a badly injured leg. If it were me I would let vet and physio work in conjunction with each other.

That is seizure activity.
 

FestiveFuzz

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So just a quick update. Our vet called back this morning and basically told me to stop panicking. He has said the most likely cause is the saddle as H was absolutely fine prior to the adjustment and that he'd guess the trip was down to H being on the forehand and dawdling rather than anything more sinister. I've spoken to our saddler who has suggested that I switch back to the old gullet and see if he improves. I got our YO to trot him up and lunge him on a hard surface to check soundness and she said he seemed slightly stiff but not lame in her opinion so I'll hold off and see what the physio says next week and if there's still any uncertainty I'll get the vet out. Our vet has agreed with this course of action and in honesty I'll probably still push for the vet to come out anyway and just give him an annual check up to makes sure there's nothing I'm missing but I'm feeling a bit better about things now.
 
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