Girthing problem

When I put the girth on my Thoroughbred gelding, he rather suddenly looks sleepy and will fall if I don't walk him off smartly and wake him up. His eyes are half closed, he looks drugged, staggers and almost falls. As soon as I tap him with a ...When I put the girth on my Thoroughbred gelding, he rather suddenly looks sleepy and will fall if I don't walk him off smartly and wake him up. His eyes are half closed, he looks drugged, staggers and almost falls. As soon as I tap him with a ...

Story originally posted by: Michael Lowder, DVM, MS

Dr. Lowder:

When I put the girth on my Thoroughbred gelding, he rather suddenly looks sleepy and will fall if I don’t walk him off smartly and wake him up. His eyes are half closed, he looks drugged, staggers and almost falls. As soon as I tap him with a whip or vigorously startle or move him, he seems to recover and is fine as soon as I get on, and our ride is normal. If I stop riding to talk with an instructor or friend, he will go to sleep and nearly fall.

The horse is a cribber – no collar has ever stopped him. He is 13, dressage, worked 6 days a week, had colic surgery two years ago. He eats about 10 pounds of grain a day plus six cups of bran mash and all the hay and pasture he can stuff in, but continues to show ribs. He doesn’t look thin, just shows his ribs. He has had West Nile vaccinations for the past two years, no soundness problems whatever. All shots and Coggins current. Very well cared for horse.

This acts like a circulation impediment. What do you think?

Thanks,
Janet Lant

Janet,

It sounds like your horse is living the good life. Your horse may be suffering from syncope (fainting). However, your horse has not fainted yet and may just have a mild case of it.

I would suggest you start placing an old saddle (or a saddle pad with a girth) on him in the stall and let him get use to the girth being on real loose. He can’t act sleepy all day. Try it and lets see how it works out.

Thanks,
Dr. Lowder