Horse spun in stall and fell, started having convulsions.. any experience with anything similar??

My 13 year old jumper mare who has been extremely healthy since the day I bought her suddenly while having her breakfast in her stall started to spin and suddenly fell and kept hitting her head into the wall. This caused a large wound on top of her eye and other small wounds on her head and body. The vet was immediately called and examined her and she is fine other than these wounds. He gave her a nerve calmer and instructed us to clean the wound etc. She seemed fine after the incident (but maybe this was due to the calmer that was given) and till now is acting normal. However, I am concerned as to why she would suddenly have convulsions and I am worried this would happen again. Any ideas as to what could have caused this or experience with anything similar. Please share. Thank you in advanced

Seizure? I know two horses diagnosed with Cushings that had seizures prior to being diagnosed and medicated.

Breeding? If a QH maybe HYPP.


Did she have convulsions after or before the fall? My old horse hit his head very hard after flipping over, and had a seizure like you describe. He was totally fine after. What caused her to fall?


it may be worth having an electrician check for stay wire / voltage / currents in the stable area. I remember hearing about an incident at a horse show that was using electronics at ringside and horses were being shocked by cord running under the footing.

Syncope ( fainting) can come with seizure like behavior during the unconscious phase in people

you may need some followup exam to determine what caused the event in the first place. Severe pain reaction, such as from neck arthritis or lower lumbar pinch may cause sudden shooting pain and the horse may have been. “running” from it. While she may have ben healthy til now, this may be a sign that something is developing.

And of course, with mares, ovarian cysts and follicle issues can cause a whole slew of signs, so she may need an internal exam if it was not done today.


How long have you owned her? Living in same stall as normal? Same food as normal? Did she trip herself or slip on mat and then fall? Or just fell straight to the ground from her spin? How long did seizure last? Did she snap out of it right away/back to normal? Or was there a period of lethargy/not recognizing her surroundings, etc., following, no matter how brief? Did vet pull blood for testing? What was the “nerve calmer” given actually called?


It sounds like a seizure to me. My beloved Buddy was also perfectly healthy until one day (at a horse show, of all places) he started thrashing in the stall. He was fine (as far as we could tell, though he would have a few bangs and scrapes on his head occassionally) for another couple of years, after which the seizures came more and more often.

His tended to be more twitching (at least the ones I knew about), and he’d be right as rain an hour after the episode, but the frequency and severity grew over time. I padded his head (he was not a fan) and then padded his stall, but in the end, we had to lay him down. I did not do a necropsy (the end came quickly, while I was out of town), so I don’t know what the cause was.

Very sorry. I will say that Buddy never had an episode while he was being ridden, nor when anyone was working with him - in retrospect, we were very lucky. Best of luck to you.

1 Like

We had a school horse start doing this, ( started with him tripping badly when being ridden and then he went down in his stall…got rt back up but we knew it needed to be checked and no more riding), vet called and he has a heart problem! He’s now, sadly, retired but living in the university’s herd so they can learn from him.

@paw My family had a horse whose story was very similar to yours. His seizures were caused by a brain tumor. The seizures became more severe (with more severe injuries) and more frequent over time so we eventually were concerned that it was unsafe to ride him and had him euthanized. He was otherwise completely healthy. He was 19 when we euthanized him and the seizures had started a few years earlier.

I hope this is not what is going on with the OP’s horse and best wishes for figuring out what caused your horse’s episode and hopefully it is something treatable.


Please, please get a set of neck X-rays for her. I had a horse under my care with neck arthritis that resulted in at least two seizures while he was with me. Same as what you described. Compression in the spine can result in significant, dramatic neurologic behavior. If that’s clear, I would pull blood to check for blood-borne illnesses with neurologic symptoms. Good luck.


Based on an experience I had with a cat, you may need to push the vet to do some follow up. I adopted a cat that had a seizure not long after we brought her home. When I took her to the vet, the vet did not believe me. The vet was sure that I was just an idiot who thought a cat twitching in her sleep was having a seizure. I had to get a little hostile and lay out my “credentials” (lifetime cat owner, 3 years experience as a vet tech, degree in animal science…) before she took me seriously. (The cat continued to have periodic seizures throughout her life; vet’s best guess was previous head trauma.)

So, make sure your vet accepts your assessment that the horse had a seizure and didn’t just bang her head while getting back up from the stall floor. Otherwise, he/she may not pursue appropriate diagnostics.

1 Like

I’ve seen two horses have seizures. One was a middle aged TB stallion. His was deemed idiopathic seizures because we could never discern what the cause was. It was alarming to watch him when he was seizing. The other was my son’s elderly pet pony. We tried to do his teeth and when he jerked his head up (avoiding the dentist) he had a seizure. His was an old neck injury that pinched a nerve. No more doing his teeth. I hope you get answers. It can be frustrating.

Best guess, neck or cardio vascular event. Possibly drug/med interaction but I’m leaning towards one of the first two. Have seen EPM create sudden loss of coordination and head or neck injury, like concussion and seizures. I would definitely x ray head and neck. Don’t blow this off even if there are no further signs, something went really wrong and these falls/seizures can get somebody hurt.

I wouldn’t think HYPP is involved with a mare but there are related conditions…honestly, I’d haul her to a clinic for a complete evaluation and a visit with a specialist more familiar with such episodes then any farm vet. Teaching clinic would be perfect, theyll have the equipment and the specialist.

1 Like

Why not HYPP for a mare? Off the top of my head I don’t know if mares can be H/H or only N/H but I don’t think that toally matters.
My N/H gelding had symptoms such as the muscle twitching and his should would get “stuck” and he was heterozygous. Another gelding I knew had the seizures and he was only N/H. The other gelding would get seizures from the neighbor feeding him carrots and apples even when she was told not to. She finally stopped when they made her come in the barn when he was having a seizure.

I know it is less likely that an N/H will have symptoms or be as severe as an H/H but they can and do have them.

Just curious.

1 Like

Did anyone see it happen? Falling because of a seizure and having convulsions after hitting ones head are two very different things.


Unaware of any HYPP symptoms confirmed in mares. Be interested in any links to confirmed cases.

Not sure where you would get the idea that mares cannot have HYPP symptoms?? Straight from UC Davis genetics laboratory site:

Inheritance and Transmission of HYPP

HYPP is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait, which means it can occur in both males and females and only one copy of the gene is required to produce the disease. The trait is inherited from generation to generation with equal frequency; it does not get “diluted” out or skip generations. Breeding an affected heterozygous horse (N/H) to an affected heterozygous horse (N/H) will result in approximately 50% carrying the defective gene (N/H), approximately 25% will be normal (N/N) and approximately 25% will be homozygous carriers (H/H). Breeding an affected heterozygous horse (N/H) to a normal horse (N/N) will result in approximately 50% normal offspring and approximately 50% carrying the defective gene (N/H).

Symptoms and Signs of the Disease
Homozygous horses are affected more severely than heterozygous horses. Under ideal management practices, the defective gene does not appear to have adverse effects, but stress and/or increased potassium in the serum can trigger clinical signs of muscle dysfunction. Why some horses manifest severe signs of the disease and other exhibit little or no signs is unknown and currently under investigation. Unfortunately, a horse carrying the defective gene but showing minimal signs has the same chance of passing the gene to future generations as does the affected horse with severe signs.

HYPP is characterized by sporadic attacks of muscle tremors (shaking or trembling), weakness and/or collapse. Attacks can also be accompanied by loud breathing noises resulting from paralysis of the muscles of the upper airway. Occasionally, sudden death can occur following a severe paralytic attack, presumably from heart failure or respiratory muscle paralysis.

No mention anywhere that only males will experience symptoms and definite confirmation that females can have the genetic traits of the disease.


Interesting, thank you. I will share that with all my QH friends.

But also think it’s less likely to have caused OPs Jumper mares episode then the other possibilities, especially if it’s not a QH.

Check for EPM


A friend’s pony mare had a few episodes of spinning and having seizures - was definitely neuro, but I can’t remember what the exact diagnosis was now. She was turned out for quite some time as they didn’t want to ride her in case it happened under saddle. Specialist vet said once she’d not had one for +6mths she would probably be ok - and he was right - none for +2yrs.

Good luck