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Fainting foal (so sorry, long post)

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blueprintminis

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Last night I missed the end of the IAMHA on-line auction because my then 8 day old filly was acting very strange and I thought she was dying. She was born 23 days early, during the day when I was not present to assist. But, she seemed "done" and she was good and upright and strong from the beginning. The only thing, up until the other night, that was a little strange was that on her 2nd day I wanted to put her and mama out in the yard for some sunshine and exercise. Her 1st excursion out of doors. No one was there to help me and I didn't think the filly would know to follow mom if I led the mare so I decided to carry the filly and let momma follow. When I put one arm around the front and the other arm around her back and started to lift her off the ground, she "melted" in my arms. She went as limp as a cooked noodle with her head hanging down and her tongue hanging out. It alarmed me and I thought Oh My, I've scared her to death! I carried her on outside and was going to lay her down in the grass. When I went to put her down, she "woke up", and scampered off behind her mom. I kept a close eye on her and she seemed totally normal and very happy to know there was more to the world than a 10 X 10 stall. The next thing I noticed was on Thursday evening when I went down to feed. The filly would have been 1 week old at that point. I was going to take the mare and baby out of the stall so I could give it a good cleaning. The filly was lying down, asleep. When she awakened, she jumped up, but buckled at the knees and started trembling. She kinda staggered over to mama and started nursing. Within a couple seconds, she was acting completely normal. I noticed, however, that she had a little mushy yellow diarrhea on her butt and thought Oh Great, I've got a sick foal. So, I put her and mama out and watched them closely to see how bad her "squirts" were. Well, she was all full of herself, running circles around mom, bright eyed and bushy tailed. She showed no s/s of being ill or feeling bad at all. Since she was the last foal due, she is still in the "camera" stall so after they had their time out and came back in I knew I could observe them thru out the night on the monitor. She seemed completely normal and happy. Well, Friday evening, I was trying to watch the end of the IAMHA auction as I had a couple mares I was going to "snipe" at the last second. I thought the auction ended at 8pm eastern time, but it was actually scheduled to end at 9pm eastern time, so I thought I would have plenty of time to get to the barn to get the feeding done. WRONG!!!! The filly was lying down, had more mushy diarrhea on her butt, and seemed to not be able to stand up. I helped her to her feet and she was very wobbly. But, she went and nursed and started bucking around the stall. I left the stall to prepare for feeding and when I looked back in, the filly was lying in a heap. I ran to the stall and found her to be unresponsive. I picked her up and brought her out into the aisle and attempted to lay her on the concrete floor, but she put her feet down, her head up, and she was alert and bright eyed once again. But it scared me enough to call the vet. Her temp was 101.4. Her umbilical stump was tiny and dry and she showed no tenderness or concern with it. She was checking out everything in the barn aisle and going to her mama regularly to nurse. She only made a tiny bit of creamy yellow poop, which didn't stream or squirt out. The vet thought she might be getting septic or maybe getting a little ulcer. Suggested giving her some kaopectate and a tiny dose of gastric gard. Wanted me to call him first thing this morning and he would come evaluate her. I filled a 6 cc syringe with some kaopectate, and when I gently inserted the syringe into the edge of her mouth she fainted dead away!!!! She laid limp on the barn floor with her eyes rolled back in her head. She laid there like that for about 20 seconds, then opened her eyes and got to her feet and seemed perfectly normal. I had to give her a little more kaopectate and again, when I put the syringe into her mouth she "fainted". I called the vet again. He said I have given him more challenges to try to figure out than any of his other clients. He told me to keep an eye on her over night and to call him with an update first thing this morning. This morning she no longer had diarrhea but she seemed to be "passing out" more. It seemed related to 1: being startled/scared, and 2: when she has been resting and/or sleeping. Once she is up and awake, she acts and looks completely normal. She is a precious and gorgeous palomino filly (aren't they all precious?) and I thought enough fooling around. I called my vet and told him I wanted to take her to the OSU vet hospital. He called ahead and made all the arrangements. The drive is about 2.5 hours and I got there as quickly as possible. Upon arrival, there were several people waiting. Before the horses can be unloaded, however, the owner must go sign the releases and give them a rather sizeable monetary deposit for the services to be rendered. While I was inside, one of the senior vets had looked into the trailer and saw the mare and foal. The filly was standing and nursing. By the time I returned to the trailer to unload them, the filly had laid down. I went in and got the mare and led her out. The filly laid quietly in the trailer. The vet went in to get her to stand up and when she approached her and bent down, the filly went limp and her eyes rolled back in her head. The vet picked the filly up and carried her into the treatment area. The filly never moved. Her legs were slack, her head hanged loosely and her tongue was sticking out. She went to lay the filly down on the floor and the filly jumped up and took off. Boy were the vets surprised. They started checking her over immediately. Listened to heart, lungs, took temp. So far everything seemed normal. Drew blood. Some tests results are quick. Some take longer. The quick ones all came back completely normal. The ultrasounded her heart to r/o fluid around it or any abnormalities. Normal. They took a pulse ox reading. Normal. Blood pressure was normal. They had to use a human pediatric cuff on her. It was so cute! Anyway, they did an ekg. Good, strong, normal rhythm. The rest of the blood tests (liver function, kidneys, IgG, white blood cells, red blood cells, hemoglobin, the works ) all came back within normal limits for a 9 day old foal. About this time, another senior vet stopped by. This one said she had practiced for a number of years in California and had some larger miniature breeding farms as clients. She said that occasionally they would come across a newborn/young foal with cataplexy/narcolepsy that appeared to have a genetic component and that they all eventually "grew" out of. She said she did not remember which miniature bloodlines seemed to have it most often. What I had described and what the vets there had witnessed sounded just exactly the same as what this vet had witnessed at those breeding farms on occasion. It is not dangerous only scary to those observing it. They assured me that she most likely would grow out of it. When I got home, of course, I had to "google" it and came up with the following info:

Narcolepsy is very common in miniature horse foals, and can last for 30 seconds or so. There is indication that narcolepsy may be heritable. The symptoms of narcolepsy are different between horses to an extent, but generally consistent within an individual. Narcolepsy may be stimulated by excitement (taking a horse to a show, for example). One method of treating narcolepsy is to give the horse the long term medication emipromene, which reduced REM sleep over all. However, it may have gastric disturbances as a side effect.

Reference:

van Nieuwstadt, RA et al. 1993. Narcolepsy in horses. Tijdschr Diergeneeskd (article in Dutch). 118(23):765-8.

So, there you have it. The mystery of the fainting filly. Seems that the little bit of diarrhea was only causing the filly to be distressed (probably from mom being in foal heat or the feeling of the poopy on her butt) and the distress was causing some of the episodes of cataplexy.

I have never heard of such a thing in minis/horses before and I thought I would pass this info on. Sorry I have not learned to post photos on here, but if you want to see a photo of this adorable little girl, you can go to www.blueprintminis.homestead.com and click on the foals page. She is the palomino filly that is listed under the 2008 foals section.
 

kaykay

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Robin Cole and I contributed to an article on this subject in The Horse magazine. I believe you can look it up online at thehorse.com

It does run in certain bloodlines. Also putting an arm around their neck will immediately make them faint so try not to put anything on or around the neck.

The good news is by 3 months most out grow it though I have had one do it sporadically up to 1 year.

Best wishes for your filly!
 
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Reignmaker Miniatures

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It alarmed me and I thought Oh My, I've scared her to death! Sorry, I did have a little chuckle at your expense when I read this. Mostly because I recognize the feeling well. My second foal (a filly) was exactly the same and it IS frightening for sure. I had been told of this before I bred any mares but somehow it isn't something you can believe until you see it. Coming from a family with a high incidence of epilepsy I accepted the fainting as a type of seizure and since it ended quickly I waited to see if it was a self limiting problem (if she'd grow out of it) It wasn't too long and she stopped doing it, for sure by the time she was a month old altho I can't recall exactly when. Too bad your vet hadn't heard of it, you could have saved yourself the haul and the expense but I don't blame you for taking it seriously either. Glad to hear your mind has been put at ease.
 

Clarks Ltd Edition

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I have had 2 foals have this in the 25 years of raising miniatures. The first a filly - every time you lifted up her head to pet her or to give her wormer --she would faint on the ground---lay there for a few seconds then get up and be fine!! The other one was a stud colt, and we had part=time help at the time. The man that was working for me would come running up to the house and tell me that the colt was dead!! I would run back with him and he would be OK. Then eventually I saw the colt asleep, went to wake him up -- was all limp and tongue hanging out when I picked him up ---would lay him down and he would be OK!! They both outgrew this!! I know how you felt!
 

albahurst

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Ditto- I am glad your foal is fine. It is good you posted this, as it will surely help someone else.

Peggy
 

Candice

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I'm glad that your filly is ok. How scary!! I want to thank you for posting about your experience as I have never heard of this before.

I have however had one that had tantrums and threw himself on the ground and then would lay there and whimper when he was mad and didn't like what was happening. Gelding took care of that.
 

Reignmaker Miniatures

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Candice that is too funny. These little horses have such personalities (er horsenalities
)My orphan filly pouts and will pretend she can't see me when she gets scolded. In fact she goes so faar as to turn her head and look away if I try to get in her line of vision. lol

blueprintminis I agree with the others, posting this is sure to give someone else who hasn't heard of it a piece of information they will be glad to have some day.
 

blueprintminis

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Thanks everyone who responded who has dealt with this and have offered reassurance that she will probably outgrow it soon. She is a darling little girl and I don't want to lose her.

I have however had one that had tantrums and threw himself on the ground and then would lay there and whimper when he was mad and didn't like what was happening. Gelding took care of that.
As for Candice's colt who threw tantrums, I had a colt born here that did the exact same thing! If I wanted him to do anything that he didn't want to do (stand tied, get brushed, well, just about anything really) he would throw himself to the ground and lie there all huffy and puffy. One day I was trying to get him ready for a show and ended up giving him 3 of 4 baths because of this behavior. He was pretty, but he quickly moved on down the road to live with someone who had more patience than I.
 

Teresa

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I have a colt born in August that has the same problem. I thought that he had out grown it until Carl came to do teeth......and over he went. Carl checked his teeth and then kept playing with him to try to get him to go to sleep again and he didn't do it. Carl said that he had seen it several times before and believes that the colt will out grow it..........He'll be a year the end of August...so I hope he does it soon.

I did not register him....and probably won't until I am sure he quits fainting. I had such a beautiful name chosed for him..since he was born during the lunar eclipse....but the way he staggers.....we just call him "Billy Bob". Off to read Kay's article.
 

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