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Discussion on Strange trembling in early morning

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Zoe English
Member
Username: Nonie

Post Number: 188
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 6:19 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

My daughter had an early lesson this morning on my mare, after a fairly strenuous one last night. The mare is pretty fit, so we didn't foresee any problems. Last night she was sweaty and crusted from her 50 minute lesson--it was a nice evening, a bit cool, so we didn't bathe her, just groomed her, fed her dinner and her beet pulp as usual, and left. She was in last night, and the temperature dropped quite a bit.

When we arrived at the barn she was alert and happy to see us (and our bag of carrots). Our lesson was at eight, and all the horses were in, not yet fed. We gave her a flake of hay to keep her occupied (she had none left from the night) and started grooming her and tacking her up in her stall. All was well until while we were putting on her polo wraps, I noticed her front leg was shaking. Then all four legs started to shake. I panicked and took off the wraps and led her out to graze. She vacuumed down the fresh grass and clover. By then her chest was shaking too, and we covered her with a cooler (it was fairly cold outside, and her legs felt very cold), and I left her with my daughter to go call the vet.

I left a message on their paging machine, but I think my cell phone misfired, as they never called back. As luck would have it, within ten minutes or so my mare was fine, the shaking stopped, and when our (very venerable and experienced) trainer got here he said we could proceed with the lesson and keep a careful eye on her.

She was fine, went on to do almost an hour of good work, not too sweated up. I had thought by then that I should have given her electrolytes the night before, and that over twelve hours between her dinner and breakfast was too much (as it was, she grazed and had the flake of hay before her lesson, and afterwards I gave her a quart of soaked beetpulp WITH electrolytes, and then turned her out to pasture with her buddies.

I am presuming since I have heard nothing that she is fine. I'm curious though as to what would cause that shaking and whether I should look into it more. It was very frightening, especially since this is a mare who had two colic surgeries in a row three years ago for a trapped jejunum and lost 30 feet of her small intestine. Thankfully she has had (knock wood) absolutely NO repercussions from the surgery. Needless to say, though, I panic every time she tilts her head funny.

Thanks for any input.

Zoe
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Beth Gordon
Member
Username: Bethyg2

Post Number: 112
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 10:53 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Zoe- what breed of horse is the mare?Foundation quarter horses can carry the gene for, or have a case of, a disease that causes twitching and spasm. Is it referred to as HYPP? Who knows, but it could just be she was in pain from something else. My mini had a chemical burn from a hair whitening product, and he shook like a dog in a thunder storm until we noticed it and the bute took effect. I never saw a horse tremble in pain before that. -Beth
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Christos Axis
Member
Username: Christos

Post Number: 791
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 5:28 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

It sounds like a mild seisure, Zoe. I do not know whether this can be of neurologic or metabolic origin or both.
We had 2 TBs that would display funny neurological signs (twitching or a leg shaking) for a few minutes after breakfast, especially after a hard day.
My trainer was saying that this only occurs when a tired horse wakes up and has no food for a couple of hours, then breakfast sometimes creates this effect.
I am not sure, however, whether he really meant this or it was one more argument to persuade me that I have to wake up at 5 o'clock to feed the horses (ex-racehorses are easy to retrain into normal life, ex-racetrainers are impossible to retune).
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Zoe English
Member
Username: Nonie

Post Number: 189
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 6:20 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Beth, Molly's a Connemara/TB. She wasn't in pain at all, and the trembling didn't affect her movement. She walked out of her stall just fine and set to eating grass with a gusto. She was obviously starving. Christos, we had given her a flake of hay when we started grooming her, and that was probably the first food she'd had in several hours, so your trainer's theory would hold, there. I wish our barn owner fed them breakfast a little earlier, but her policy is 8 am. They are given their dinner at 6 pm, and then get a night check and extra hay around 10 or 11.
Dr. O, I am interested in your take on this.

Zoe
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Christos Axis
Member
Username: Christos

Post Number: 792
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 8:03 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I really don't know, Zoe, let's wait for DrO's comments before you draw any conclusions.
I also remember a TB gelding who got soft knees and two times fainted on me while girthing up or shortly after. Some say that's a neurologic reflex from the girth, some that it is a stress response to the oncoming work. Again, I don't know.
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Cindy Mitchell
Member
Username: Cmitch

Post Number: 26
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 9:23 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

she was probably cold... one of the horses atour place did that one cold morning, and was fine just like yours, after he got moving.

cindy
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Vicki Zaneis
Member
Username: Vickiann

Post Number: 51
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 11:21 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

What Cindy said about her being cold is exactly what I thought when I read this description of shivering. Early morning is usually when temperatures dip to their lowest level. It has happened several times with one of my horses. They shiver and shake as part of an attempt to get their body warmed up. (of course, they can do something similar out of pain or fear or for neurological reasons) That it stopped after putting on a cooler and giving some hay was no coincidence!
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 12845
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 12:29 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

What was the temperature that morning Zoe and is the horse clipped? Blanketed? Did this follow removing the blanket? Certainly shivering is possible but were the other horses shivering and why the difference?

Neurological seizures always effect mentation and the lack of depression or wild behavior makes it less likely. Electrolyte imbalances seem unlikely here but without bloodwork...hmmm are you feeding alfalfa or some other source of calcium other than the beetpulp?

I would have been interested in the body temperature, glucose, muscle enzymes, and electrolyte balance but without further information a bit of a mystery.
DrO
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Vicki Zaneis
Member
Username: Vickiann

Post Number: 52
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 1:02 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I just read Zoe's post again and the way the shaking started in one leg and then progressed is a good description of what has happened a number of times when I have had to give my horse a bath when it was, or became a bit too cool to be doing so. After completion of the bath (with him shivering all over) I give him a good drying rub down, get a cooler on him, put him in the barn out of the wind, and he is fine. I have also seen him shivering other times when turned out -- especially if it is cool, rainy and there is a wind chill. My other horses do not seem to be as cold-sensitive, but they grow much thicker winter coats, and do not take the summer heat as well as this boy. One morning in March when I had him at a training clinic he did this same shaking/shivering after I got there. When I arrived, the temperature was still dropping a bit and though not raining, the breeze was cool. He had not been working hard at all the prior days, because it wasn't that kind of clinic. I quickly blanketed him and he was soon fine. My daughter's horse was in the adjacent pen, and though he had a clipped coat, he was NOT shivering. The temperature could not have been any lower than upper 30's or low 40's. The idea a horse could do this due to a shortage of something is very interesting to me. In any case, there have never been any lasting effects and the horse quickly warmed up to a comfortable level.
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Carol Tank-Day
Member
Username: Caroltd

Post Number: 15
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 8:17 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have been reading all your posts with interest. We had this same thing occur with my daughter's mare on Friday morning. I went out to feed at 5AM, the night had been cold, down around freezing and a stiff wind, damp air but no rain (typical spring weather for Vermont). I realized as I approached the mare that she was trembling slightly, as I began to get the morning feed ready, her trembling increased to where she couldn't keep all of her feet on the ground at the same time. We immediately checked her temperature and realized she was down below 99. My daughter put a cooler and blanket on her and within 30 minutes she was back to just a mild tremble and that disappeared in an hour. I took the blanket off mid-morning and she was fine. This never affected her eating or drinking or moving about. Once before this happened to her, again when she was out at night in 32 degrees weather with lots of wind and rain in the spring. I think Vicki is right. Some are just more sensitive to the cold (especially in the spring when its a wet cold, not dry like winter).
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