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  1. #1

    Default Strange behaviour - sleep related?

    My horse, a 10yo ID gelding, is displaying some strange behaviour/symptoms and I wondered if anyone else has experienced the same/similar? Horse is currently under the vet but as it's playing on my mind I thought I would ask on here too in case it throws up some more avenues to explore. Apologies for the long post.

    Behaviours/symptoms:
    - Refusal to walk out of stable, and generally planty when being led once he has been shooed out of his stable (for turnout). No other obvious signs of agitation - no snorting, spooking etc.
    - Does not like picking up front feet particularly, will stamp them back down again (better with hinds)
    - Stands oddly - kind of bunched up
    - Odd way of moving when turned on a circle
    - Ridden - very reluctant to go forward

    I have had him since last summer but unfortunately haven't been able to do much with him due to injury (mine), lack of facilities, atrocious weather. Recently moved yards, although this behaviour was observed at first yard - just put down to him being a stubborn so and so. Not having been able to do much with him, I went with previous yard's advice it was just behaviour. New yard owner (a friend who's opinion I trust) is convinced that there is an underlying cause, hence vet involvement.

    Vet has taken a blood test for muscle enzyme levels, which was negative. Bute trial to start tomorrow. Vet also thinks there is something 'not right'.

    Other observations - seems to stand in one spot in his stable, no evidence of lying down. Doesn't move around much in the field. Currently fed on hi-fi and fibre pencils. Supplements - biotin, magnesium oxide (as often seemed very 'on edge' on previous yard, not so much now), and brewer's yeast.

    The lack of lying down makes me wonder if he is sleep deprived, but it could also just be that no one has caught him having a snooze. Considering getting a stable-cam so I can monitor what he gets up to - not that I think the yard girls aren't, but they aren't there 24/7.

    Any thoughts, experiences, further questions etc welcome!

  2. #2
    Veteran
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Buckinghamshire
    Posts
    2,423

    Default Re: Strange behaviour - sleep related?

    I was thinking tied up but your vet has tested...

    Have you done a bute trial? Sometimes they won't lie down if they are worried they can't get up. Is stable nice and big?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Strange behaviour - sleep related?

    Bute trial starts tomorrow, was waiting for vet to send out. Vet also thought something of the tying up family - but not according to blood test.

    Stable is nice and big, certainly no smaller than the one at our last yard or where I bought him from.

    Thanks for your reply

  4. #4
    Old nag
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    5,249

    Default Re: Strange behaviour - sleep related?

    Tied up is too transient for what appears to be a long term condition - and pretty unmistakable so the vet would have spotted it. A bute trial will work for pain - and very useful. And cheaper of course so rule that out first. Sleep deprivation might be the first line cause - but why can't he sleep / rest correctly? To be honest I would be looking at a neurological problem. But that is expensive so bute trial first is prudent.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Strange behaviour - sleep related?

    Agreed - not a tying up episode, but something affecting muscles in a similar way, PSSM etc, over a prolonged period. But now ruled out wit blood test anyway.

    Also agree that the sleep deprivation would be a large symptom that explains the little symptoms rather than a diagnosis in itself. Not sure if I want the bute trial to work or not - hate the thought he'd have been in pain for ages, but I do want an answer so we can resolve asap for him.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Strange behaviour - sleep related?

    My pony had v similar symptoms and it turned out to be an abscess in his abdomen. Went through all sorts of different diagnoses with the vets from a hairline fracture of the pelvis or one of the vertebra, tying up, neurological issues but pelvic fracture was the main consensus. We eventually shaved his backend and did an ultrasound and vet spotted the fluid in the abscess. This was very unusual so unlikely to be the same issue as your horse but it shows that these symptoms cover quite a few different possibilities. Mine was put on a long term course of antibiotics which relieved the pressure eventually and he was able to move freely. It must have been building up for a long time before it started causing mobility issues, and he showed no previous signs of pain or discomfort.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Strange behaviour - sleep related?

    Horses need 45 minutes of REM sleep within a 24 hour period and they can only achieve REM sleep lying down. They can't achieve it standing up. They can have their REM sleep split up, it doesn't have to be all in one go. Horses are persuaded to lie down if their surroundings are comfortable or if they are in a herd of other horses who are asleep on their sides or if they reside in a stable block with others that frequently lie down. If a horse is uncomfortable in its surroundings it may be sleep deprived. After a few days it will partially collapse and then get suddenly aroused. horses will avoid lying down due to discomfort i.e. arthritis for example. They will also avoid lying down if they are very dominant and then removed from a herd situation. Finally if they are uncomfortable in their surroundings they will avoid lying down. This can be remedied by moving them to a more populated area of the field, removing a horse from loud noises, i.e. motorway or train tracks, or removing a dominant horse from the field.

    Video showing REM sleep https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYA-g8yfd-4

  8. #8

    Default Re: Strange behaviour - sleep related?

    Thanks WandaMare - that's interesting, glad you found the cause in the end. Did a bute trial make any difference (if you did one)?

    hopscotch bandit - thanks for the additional information. considering a stable camera so i can see what he gets up to overnight - specifically if there is any lying down sleep. if he's not getting any REM sleep then we can look at why, if he is then we can rule out sleep deprivation.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Strange behaviour - sleep related?

    Quote Originally Posted by starfish8 View Post
    Thanks WandaMare - that's interesting, glad you found the cause in the end. Did a bute trial make any difference (if you did one)?

    hopscotch bandit - thanks for the additional information. considering a stable camera so i can see what he gets up to overnight - specifically if there is any lying down sleep. if he's not getting any REM sleep then we can look at why, if he is then we can rule out sleep deprivation.
    No problem. Can you not see if he is lying down by the state of his rugs, i.e shavings/straw on them or on his tail or presumably you have already ruled this out. May be putting a fleece rug on might highlight it easier if the kind of stable rug you use is of the material that doesn't attract annoying bits of shavings/straw lol.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Strange behaviour - sleep related?

    He had a brand new stable rug on last night so any debris will definitely be from lying down from this point on - was hard to tell in his turnout as he does love the mud.

    According to our block's groom (who has the patience of a saint for all my questions) he is getting worse for not wanting to come out of his box in the mornings, behaviour doesn't seem affected by whether he's first/last out/being turned out with my other one at the same time, is weeing a lot (regardless of thickness of bed, it's running out of the door overnight).

    Went over him myself last night to hunt for any sore spots and found a couple - one a few inches up and back from his elbow, another strange but old (I think) line of scar tissue on his quarters. Will report all of this to the vet next time we speak, plus any changes arising as a result of the bute trial.

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