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Hey there! I was recommended to this blog by Gina Kreuger…

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Hey there! I was...
Hey there! I was recommended to this blog by Gina Kreuger of Garland Farms in Dahlonega GA. She said it would be a great place to possible get some answers to what is going on with my horse Impresario.
SO... here it is...
"Impy" is a hanovarian gelding. He is 23 this year and has shown FEI dressage. He is still in GREAT physical condition, never had any problems with soundness or health related issues.
I keep him at home on a 165 acre farm with ~13 other horses. He gets nightly turnout on pastures with great grass and rolling hills. Each field is about 6-7 acres. He is fed a mix of grain (senior)/oats/beatpulp. He is not on any supplements. He is wormed and gets annual shots. Like I said, he is in great health or so it seems. His coat is shiny and he is very happy. He has a great social life, and is spoiled rotten, but we let him be a horse. He is cared for 24/7. About a month ago he had a nose bleed, not the first one. This spring he also had some disrythmia going on with his heart (spelling?)... He was much more lazy than usual and didn't feel or act like himself. we thought allergies or heat? Plus he is 17.2 so a big guy... and he's getting older.. But I went into his stall to put fly spray on him one afternoon. I started to spray him like I have done for YEARS.. and his head went up and eyes got big, he started moving away from the killer fly spray.... not real unusual... he has never loved it. But... all of a sudden when he finally stopped moving so I could spray him his body stiffened up and he started shaking all over. He then seemed to tremble, stiffen even more, and then pinged off the stall walls three times until he finally fell down. I dove under the stall door so I didn't get crushed. VERY SCARY! He quickly got up and stood there looking terrified. It was like a seizure??? He seemed to loose total control of his body. He has never done this before. After the episode I hosed him off, cleaned the bump on his head he had gotten from hitting it, and gave him bute because I know he would be sore from falling. He ate fine and seemed totally ok. I could just tell he was hurting coz he hit his head pretty hard when he came up under the stall door.
I called the vet, she said she has seen horses do that before but didn't really know why they did it. She said maybe I woke him up too fast.
So I felt terrible!
The next day... I fed him and all the horses, got him out of his stall, we walked about 100 ft to cross tie, and I began putting more fly spray on him before I turned him out. He had been awake for a good 20 minutes, plus I had walked him some... ONCE AGAIN he began to stiffen as he rose his neck. I stopped spaying, unhooked him quickly and stood back. I thought he was going to go into a full seizure (?) again... but he didn't. He seemed to tremble and dance in place a little for about 3 seconds and then came out of it. I ruled out the fly spray and the action of spraying him... but it seems to be triggered when he gets nervous. Because like the first time, the second time I sprayed him, he was like "OH MY GOD I hate fly spray". Plus he may have been nervous about the spraying because it was the last thing he remembered before he went down the last time.
I dont know what is going on. Could he be going neurological? Tumors somewhere? Do you have any idea what this might be??? Please help if you can. I am open to anything. I don't want to have tons of testing or procedures done, I just want to make him as comfortable as I can.
But he has been fine since. I make sure he stays calm and doesn't get startled. So far it hasn't happened again. So it's been 2 weeks with no episodes. Thanks for the help. Impy thanks you too.
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Horse Veterinary
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Answered in 41 minutes by:
6/25/2010
Horse Veterinarian: Dr. O'Bryan, Horse Veterinarian replied 8 years ago
Dr. O'Bryan
Dr. O'Bryan, Horse Veterinarian
Category: Horse Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 126
Experience: Practicing large animal veterinarian in Texas & Colorado. Emphasis in medicine & surgery.
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Hi there this is Dr. O. So sorry to hear about Impy, this must be terrifying for both you and him. I hope that both of you are okay after his fall. I think I might have a few ideas of where to direct us on what might be going on. Before we do that let me ask a few more questions. By the way, very impressive history, great job!

You stated it was not his first nose bleed. Tell me more.

  1. When was his first nose bleed?
  2. How many total has he has within the past 2 years?
  3. On average how long have they lasted?
  4. Did the nose bleed appear frothy?
  5. Has he had any difficulty breathing or have you noticed any coughing?
  6. Who diagnosed/observed his dysrhythmia?
  7. Was the dysrhythmia based on listening only or has an ECG been performed?

 

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
He has had like 2 bleeds this last year... he would come in with them when I brought him in in the morning. I've had him for 15 years and he has had a total of like 5 that I've noticed... I never paid it much attention.. usually in the summer time now that I think about it... It's just pretty red blood. lasts a short time.. but not sure coz it was when I brought him in... could have had it at night while in the pasture.... and I didn't see it. not a lot of blood... just a little...
past two years... maybe 2?
lasted maybe a few minutes? not sure...
just a small stream.
very little blood
He was breathing funny when it started to get hot... seemed to take him a long time to recover, had to give him many breaks... then we just barly worked him in the heat...
no caughing
me and my trainer noticed the heart thing.. my dad is a orthopedic surgeon... I now not a vet... but he listened to it... said it was just not rythmic... it has passed for the most part. but we hadn't worked him in weeks... b/c we are afraid to.. I walk him, and a little trot, but nothing much really at all...
we just listened and felt it...
Thank you!!! Thank YOU!!!
if it is easier I can call you or you call me. just let me know. I can give you some more $ for your time as well.
Horse Veterinarian: Dr. O'Bryan, Horse Veterinarian replied 8 years ago

Okay, great thanks for the info. this will help us narrow down some

possibilities of what might be going on with Impy and where to start.

 

So one thing that can cause a horse to "seize up" or "lock up" is an orthopedic

condition called upward fixation of the patella. I don't think that's what is

going on here. There are many other signs that usually accompany this condition

which you have not described.

 

Another condition could involve the airway where his excitement could cause his

airway to close inappropriately and the lack of oxygen essentially causes him to

pass out. I've only ever seen this once and the syndrome I am thinking of is

always accompanied by very loud airway sounds. You would hear Impy coming

before you saw him.

 

A more likely scenario is to consider a heart problem. The equine heart is

pretty basic, as are the problems that go along with it. If it was a birth

defect problem like a (VSD) ventricular septal defect, or an (ASD) atrial septal

defect, we would have more than likely seen some problem from that by now. That

said, it leads us to look at degenerative diseases involving the heart. So now

you might ask Dr. O, what are those problems and signs?

 

Depending upon the valve affected, signs of heart disease in the horse can range

from situations which you have described to, mild lethargy, gravitating edema

(swelling on the lower areas of the body), increased jugular pulsing, coughing,

frothy fluid and/or blood coming from the nostrils all the way to sudden death.

Please don't be frightened by the end of the last sentence, I just want to make

you aware of the range of signs that one might see when dealing with heart

disease in horses.

The point is, that much like I mentioned before an increased demand on the brain

for oxygen (generated by his excitement) and the inability of the heart to

effectively pump the blood and oxygen therein to the brain could result in Impy

"passing out."

 

Degenerative disease of the aortic, mitral, and tricuspid valves are common in

older horses. The pulmonary valve is usually not involved. Endocarditis, an

inflammation of the valve, can develop on any one of the valves in the heart.

 

Another common problem in the horse heart that interferes with its ability to

effectively pump blood is the rupture of one or more chorda tendinea which are

small string like projections that keep the valves in place. A condition called

malignant ventricular tachycardia would be at the top of my list with what you

have described. Horses with this condition may stop abruptly or event fall.

Cancers of the heart are rare in horses. Most valvular diseases in horses can

be diagnosed by listening to the horse with a stethoscope and a trained ear.

Sometimes more advanced diagnostics like an echocardiogram are warranted.

Yet another possibility is a dysfunction in the hearts ability to conduct it's

electrical signal. This is seen as...tada a dysrhythmia! A weird heart beat.

This is different from when horses skip heart beats consistently, commonly known

as increased vagal tone, or sinus arrhythmia.

 

So where do we start. Get your vet to listen to Impy's heart. After spending

13 years in human medicine I can appreciate your dad's talent and I also

appreciate the difference in the human anatomy and physiology from that of a

horse. A veterinarian is best suited to perform a good physical exam of Impy's

heart. If there's a murmur he/she will hear it. If there are dampened lung

sounds, they should hear it. Next step, have an ECG performed to see if there

is a deficit with Impy's electrical impulses. From there more advanced

diagnostics include echocardiograms, radiographs (x-rays), and on and on.

 

So now what? What if it is a heart problem, are there treatments? Yes!

Depending on the cause there are several medications available, as well as

surgical procedures that may help him out. Many times the best treatment is

good care and management. For now, don't get him excited. Fly's are

okay...passing out and falling on you is not okay. Easy on the fly spraying.

 

As for the nose bleeds, they may or may not be related. A condition called

exercised induced pulmonary hemorrhage is found in horses with heart disease.

That said, I still would approach this as a second problem, just to make sure we

aren't missing something big, like a tumor (ethmoid hematoma). Start with some

basic blood work like a CBC and a chemistry panel with electrolytes. This basic

blood work could give us some information about his heart and/or may point us to

some other problems. It may tell us everything is just fine. More invasive

diagnostics may involve placing a flexible camera into his upper airway so we

can see what is going on. In the end, we may find the problems are related and

when we treat one symptom, both symptoms resolve. Another good reason to have a

vet come out is to look at the pasture where he stays to make sure Impy is not

getting into something like a toxic plant that could cause these symptoms. Most

counties have an extension agent that could assist in this process.

 

I'm not sure how far away from UGA you are, but there are some fantastic

veterinarians there and I know they would be more than happy to help you and

Impy out.

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
I can't even tell you how happy I am to have some different answers from you on what this might be. If we know the monster we can start to handle it right? right! So thank you again! I will forward your responses to my trainer and we will get started on some blood work and getting his heart listened to.. he HAS HAD swelling of the left hind leg for YEARS... about 6 now... they said it was lymphadima (spelling)... it comes and goes... worse when he's out of work or stays in too long. Sounds like you are on the right track with the heart condition. Before the passing out... when I would ride him, he would just want to STOP... I let him and waited until he was ready to walk again. The sudden death thing does scare me. I will pray hard for him and watch him 24/7. I will keep you posted on how he is. How do I send more $ for all your help? I want to. THANK YOU THANK YOU! I have had this horse for 15 years. He is my son. I am the kind of horse trainer that doesn't ever force anything on my horse no matter what my goals are. I truly ride classical dressage, not the modern type, if you know what I mean. This is why he has remained sound and happy. I spend happy time with him only, and I just want him happy ALL the time. I will do anything inside of my power to help my best friend. I am so blessed to have your help!
Sincerely,
AshleyCustomerbr />Impresario
Keno & Pyaar (his best friends)

ps... Keno is 29 and still going strong! I mean you can tell he's old... but mostly its his mind! lol! He has a lot of senior moments. He's so cute and funny. He totes little kids around and just loves it. Him and Impy have been together since I was a little girl. I'm 27 now... and it's sad seeing your babies get old;( But it has been such a great journey.
Horse Veterinarian: Dr. O'Bryan, Horse Veterinarian replied 8 years ago

Ashley,

 

I'm so glad that I could help, the rest is up to you and your veterinary team. Let's not forget to make sure, on the odd chance, there is not an airway problem. Again, usually there is an associated whistle or roar, but not every animal follows the books.

 

If you find yourself needing more answers as you get more information from your veterinarian please don't hesitate to ask for me on JustAnswers and I'll do my best to help you out. I'm not perfect, they do call it "practice" and new information is being produced all of the time.

 

I believe there is an option to apply a bonus if you feel the need. It is not necessary however.

 

Best of luck to you and Impy, and happy trails.

-Dr. O.

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