Does Your Horse Have Narcolepsy?

Friendship Training Forums FT General Forum Conditions/Ailments Does Your Horse Have Narcolepsy?

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    Trisha Stewart

    I posted a while back on the facebook group about the 17h TB here at the yard who appears to have Narcolepsy. As some may know there is no real science behind the opinions that the horse lacks REM sleep. Bear with me on this long post as I think I know the problem, well for him anyway.

    I first noticed it last December when he nearly fell in the barn, I thought it was a seizure but he pulled himself up, I did not really notice again but then I was not watching 24/7 then in March/April time this year a girl who rides him (ugh…he has an awful bit in his mouth and a saddle that does not fit) had him tied up, tacked up and I was nearby and saw him flounder slightly and then more, I thought he was going to go right down, so quickly released the rope as if he fell he would be hanging in it. He was quickly untacked as neither of us knew what the problem was. So she left and we let him out into the padock with the others. That is quite frightening if you have never seen it before.

    All about the same time he came in with blood running down on both of his front fetlocks, I searched the paddock to see if he caught himself but nothing, it was cleaned and sorted but everyday it kept happening. Then, I kept noticing him falling alseep standing up, as they do, but he would be going backwards as if to sit down then his knees buckled and I could see immediately what was happening was that he was going down on his front fetlocks so that explained it. Very sad to see this going on.

    Had the vet out to check him, had his bloods done, nothing, he was fine. So what to do? Got him some turnout boots, vetwrap to try and get the area to heal as it was constantly being scraped. That worked to a level but when they came off he would knock it again.

    Then, after a while it just stopped, his legs have just about healed. What happened, what was different? And, what I saw today confirmed my thoughts.

    Franko (TB) shares his areas with Willow, my Fresian, they don’t like each other even though they have shared the place for 1.5 years, then came a little Dartmoor pony who belongs to the TB owner, he was brought in from conservation grazing as someone wanted a pony and he is very friendly, too much so for conservation grazing, so, a pony was introduced to the herd! this is when the Narcolepsy became very apparent and the legs got bad! About 6 weeks ago, another Dartmoor was brought into the herd! She was going to be here for a few weeks and then go onto conservation grazing. For the first time my girl was very anti, she has put up with quite a few coming and going and never bothered.

    In the last few weeks, the legs have healed up, I actually saw Franko lying down in the paddock ( he never lays down in the barn) and I did not notice him rocking whilst standing in the barn.

    Then today, a saddle fitter came, he stands well as he always does, she did all the measuring. Then the lady asked Franko’s owner to put the bridle on (with that awful, nasty type of bit) so that the owner could ride him and she could check the saddle fitted owner and horse. The bridle went on, the bit went in and the saddle went on and guess what??? I saw him plant his legs and I thought he was going to have an attack of this Narcolepsy!! I told them to hang on, he did not look good, so they slapped his leg (Grrr…..) walked him around and woke him up and took him out into the paddock to trot, walk etc. Franko did as he was bid. This sounds awful but I was rather hoping he would buck or do something but he didn’t.

    So, my view is this guy is stressed!! he obviously then can’t sleep. He is very bossy and takes lumps out of my girl, he is always herding everyone around and I think perhaps he is not a born leader. I don’t know but I know this boy sufferes from stress, separation anxiety but because he is an ex-racer, he s conditioned, he has no personality, no ground skills, the owner and the girl who occasionally rides him just do that and nothing else.

    It is a very sad situation but I just wanted to share it for opinions from others really. Sorry for the long story. A bit sad too….

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