Do you know when your horse is in distress?

Today turned out to be rather eventful one on the farm.

6am: With the weather being cold and crappy I ended up turning out Fay and Goliath in their rain sheets last night. This morning when I went out to give them breakfast I noticed Goliath had made a mess of his sheet.  It was practically under his belly and one of the leg straps was wrapped around his hind fetlock.   He didn’t appear to be in any distress and stood quietly as I took the blanket off him.  I call him a goofball and fed him his breakfast.

Napping next to friends

7am: On my way down the driveway as I headed off to work the big guy decided to take a nap next to Cotton and the foal.  I remember thinking how cute it was so I snapped this photo.    

9am: I get a call from my husband who too was heading down the driveway to work and noticed that Goliath was still down and this time none of the other horses was near him.  He was all alone and didn’t even react to the car coming down the driveway.  M decided to get out of the car and walk over to the fence to check him out closer.  Still, Goliath didn’t so much as blink or lift his head.  Thanks to the wet ground and rain Goliath was also shivering. 

Horse in distress

At this point I got the phone call I advised him to do all he could to get Goliath up and I’d call the vet and head back home. 

10am: Driving like a mad woman I made it home in record time. Sure enough Goliath was still down and had that glassy eyed look of lost hope.  With M’s help I pulled out his front legs and we rocked him as hard as we could to get him up on his chest.  At that point the old boy made the effort to actually stand up!  Yippy!  

Up and drying off in a cooler.

I had M walk him around while I ran to get a thermometer and some blankets. This is when it’s good to know your horse’s “normal” temperature.  Goliath’s temp usually hangs around 99.9 to 100 so when I got a reading of 98.3 I was pretty concerned and relieved at the same time.  At least it wasn’t a fever but disconcerting knowing my poor boy was very cold. 

Barn cat, Barley as a back warmer.

The vet showed up a short time later and did a full physical and thankfully he wasn’t colicing. The vet says it was just a case of “help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”  Literally he got down, didn’t have the strength or the will to get back up and just “gave up.” Thanks to mother nature being such a PITA he got soaked to the bone and caught hypothermia.    

So for today Goliath is covered in blankets and is in a stall to keep him dry so he can warm back up.  We’re also taking turns walking him up and down the driveway every 1-2 hours so his fatigued muscles don’t seize up on him again. 

Keeping a close eye with a barn camera.


Here’s what we think happened.  After finding a freshly made mud pit in the pasture I concluded that Goliath probably rolled, got a leg caught in his blanket somehow and proceeded to totally freak out wasting all of his energy trying to free himself from his blanket.    

When I found him in the morning and freed him of the blanket he finally could relax and laid down for a nap. However, when it came time to stand back up, his muscles were weak from the struggle the night before and he literally couldn’t get back up.  He literally gave up trying and just lay there.  If it wasn’t for the fact my husband had enough horse sense to stop and check him out we very possibly could have come to a very sick or possibly dead horse.

4 comments to Do you know when your horse is in distress?

  • admin

    Update on Goliath. Later that day he went down again and wouldn’t get back up. It took 4 of us to get him back on his feet. He wouldn’t eat, and was very lethargic.

    He passed all lameness tests and neurological tests. Since there was no real cause we opted to treat for every “normal” possibility.

    So the poor boy was tubed and fed water, electrolytes, and DMSO in case he was colicing.

    He was given banamine injection as well as a massive steroid for anything else that might be a musculoskeletal problem.

    I slept with him in the barn last night and he did go down once and I let him sleep for 1/2hr and did manage to get him back up by myself. He then proceeded to sleep the rest of the night with hind leg cocked starting out the barn door.

    By morning his appetite returned and he wanted to much on some grass and checked me over for treats which of course I gave him one.

    A few hours later when I was letting the rest of the horses out Goliath decided he wanted out too and pushed open the gate and let himself out to pasture. I decided since he wanted out and had the mental capacity to push open a gate he could stay out.

    Talking to the vet later in the morning it is still unclear what is going on with him other than he was fatiqued and dehydrated. He’s allowed to stay out on grass today and we’ll continue on with banamine and wean him off the steroids.

    This sure is a weird case.

  • admin

    Latest update. Goliath is about 85%. I don’t worry about him going down and not getting back up any more but he does look stiff and sore.

    We’re stepping down his steroids and he’s got 1 more day of banamine to help with any inflamation.

    *phew* we dodged a bullet with that one! Thank you hubby for catching him when he was down!

  • Wow, I am imaging all your anxiety and worry (yikes!) I’m so glad things are looking up! I’ll be looking for your updates.

  • joe

    At first I read the post, it sounds very worrying. But now I realize that this is not a severe case. What’s that I see like that should be worrying, it’s that he got steroids, I would not let him steroids. To what is good?