Impressive bred horses. NOT HYPP related.

Behavior related.

How do you get around the hole in their brains?

I’m an experienced horse person. This horse decides he sees something and just loses his brain. He’s 21, I’ve had him since he was 3. He’ll randomly just lose it and you dont’ want to be around. Gave up riding him last year when I realized life had taken too much out of me and I didn’t want to get hurt.

Last night was a prime example. In his corral, stalls open with overhang. About 1/2 mile away I heard ‘boom’ and knew it was time to sedate him or he’d hurt himself. .2 cc Dorm IV barely touched him. Half hour later I gave another .25 cc IV. Put him in his stall, fans & lights on and watched until midnight. He was stoned and fine and seemed to have settled. This morning, at 5:45 I look out and he’s pacing/ running back and forth in his stall. His corral mate, perfectly within view and <30’ away is sleeping in the cool morning air. My horse has lost it. I turn him out and he runs circles, about 30 yards wide about 4x before he decides whatever he was so frantic over is gone and finally settles to graze.

This has happened periodically over the course of the last 17 years. I am beside myself trying to keep him from hurting himself and having an ugly end. Ulcer medication made the behavior go away about 50%, but even then, if he decided something was worth getting frantic over, it’s safest just to lock him in his stall and deal with the sweaty mess in the morning. He lived on Depo for a while when in training. We’ve been through 5 trainers, 7 saddles, 6 boarding facilities. The behavior persists. One trainer gave him back to me and refunded me a month of board because she knew she wouldn’t make progress with him.

He was bred as 3 y.o. and my husband is convinced there’s something related to that. Stallion of his herd, smells a mare, hormones or brain chemistry. Whatever. He doesn’t live near mares (perhaps 2 properties over).

I’ve spoken to some old cowboys who say Impressives are ‘tough’. I thought it was hogwash. When this horse is good, he’s fantastic. When his brain goes away it’s every man for himself, need a chain to lead him and just stay out of his way until he’s either worn himself out or decides he’s over it.

It crossed my mind that I should put him down. These events only seem to happen about once a month or two, and last night was justified. This morning? In the clear dawn and no firecrackers anywhere? Unjustified.

Thoughts? He’s on TC Sr, decent pasture for 14 hours a day, coastal Bermuda (2 flakes at night), salt, garlic and Cosequin ASU.

Any suggestions on what else I should try? Since I’ve already had a long list of pretty accomplished professionals fail for riding, I’m thinking it’s just who he is and I need to change me, because this horse is never going to change.

Could you try a calming supplement since you don’t need to worry about testing for shows? Is he better or worse when in work?

He’s the same. Random wig-outs, except it also happens under saddle. He’s been on Quietex and Calm 'Em (Thia Cal). It doesn’t seem to make much of a difference.

It’s how he handles random events, real or imagined. Oddly enough, when there’s TONS of data to process, he’s cool as a cucumber. First show we went to there were umbrellas, tents, amplifiers, babies in strollers, minis pulling carts next to the warm up and show arena, even muscle cars (it was a 4H event). He never batted an eye. And he went to that show with just me. Years later he went to an away show, temporary stabling, tents, huge arena, the whole nine yards. He was wonderful there as well… but he had 7 other of his stable mates there and a pro trainer. The only one who’s ever been able to handle him. It was her suggestion to put him on Depo, which helped get him over the hump. But he was ridden 8 days a week by 3 different people, sometimes twice a day, and it was constantly changing. Prior to Depo he was ridden the normal 5x a week, but fell in love with a mare on the opposite side of the estate and could NOT be distracted from screaming for her, circling, rearing in X ties, running the fence line…

I wouldn’t blame it on Impressive. My appendix QH with no Impressive breeding at all will do the same type of thing, sometimes even in her beloved stall and this is a mare who thinks the outdoors is evil after about half an hour or whenever she hears a fly within 10 feet of her. She’s 26 this year, I haven’t ridden her for about 4 years. Like yours she’ll blow though TQ. Ace is useless if she’s wound up.

I’m going to start riding my 13 YO STBD. My daughter rode him for the first time today since last fall and he was perfect.


Thank you for sharing this. It’s comforting to hear others have horses who just ‘go’ occasionally. In his younger years, I did everything shy of bonescan to determine WTAF was going on. It’s just brain chemistry, I’m pretty sure of it.

Random losing their brain big time is a trait known for some with Impressive breeding.

Otherwise they act like big puppy dogs, except those that have that brain glitch, when they lose it get out of the way, they can’t see or hear or know you are there.

According to old trainers that had plenty of those, they are beautiful and really nice otherwise, they may outgrow it by 5 or 6, a few never do.

Seems that you have one of those.

We had one, a grey horse, one of the first ones to have N/N in his papers, so long ago.
That five year old was like an old man’s horse, super gentle but still you could do a days work with him.
Then, rarely, he would lose his brain and no telling what would happen.
Seems that right before, he may have started sweating out of the blue, then lose his marbles.

A friend in a feedlot needed a horse for a few days and took him.
I warned him, he didn’t care, until horse pulled it with him, it scared him, badly.
He said he was sorting a few out of a pen into the alley, all of a sudden little horse started shaking and ran blindly out the gate and down the alley and hit the gate at the end like it was not there.

None of that is standard HYPP behavior, that is more like a short circuit in the muscles, not necessarily the brain?
I wonder if there was more, another gene affected, that was not looked into when they found the HYPP one.

I wonder, if your horse is so bad about it, at his age, try to take a video and run it by your vet, see what he thinks?
Sounds like he becomes a danger to himself and others, not sure that is a good place to be with a horse.


She’s rarely done anything stupid under saddle, she was actually a pretty decent show horse if you could keep her out of traffic because she was terrified of other horses! Amazing babysitter for my daughter growing up, until she got bigger. Then she seemed to figure the kid was big enough to protect her and the love affair was over. Dancer is the horse in my avatar. I always wanted to breed her, lovely, kind gentle horse, beautiful and lovely mover, but didn’t want to deal with the possibility of the quirkiness showing up in the next generation.

Rode her dam, and her granddam, and assorted other relatives, none of them were like that, who knows where it came from? Her sire was well known for passing on his great disposition, and her dam was amazing!

1 Like

It honestly sounds neurological but can’t say exactly what. I started an Appendix colt years ago that had been treated well all of his life but was showing signs of being unmanageble even as a weanling. I got him the winter he was turning 2 and started him. We went through the same thing every day. He was just difficult and by the time he settled I thought it was best to put him away considering his age. He just never “got” it. Ride and repeat every day. Would not progress and just got stronger and more difficult. He would just check out and try to run away under saddle, even with draw reins. Just unresponsive . He could be worse on the ground. Would look for an opportunity to hurt you. If you just were rubbing a little spot on him that was like a tiny scab or whatever he would want to blow up and bite or kick. Giving a shot was taking your life in your hands. I never came off of him and his owner took him home and then brought him back for another 6 months - I needed the money and honestly thought I could get through to him. Nope. He dumped her 3 times one day in my arena for no good reason except she was unskilled. She took him to 2 or 3 other trainers and they all gave up on him as well as the vets. She finally had him euthanized. He was just dangerous for no reason. I don’t know how he was bred. His sire was a stallion that belonged to a vet in this area and his dam a Thoroughbred mare that I “heard” was a bit nutty (really?) – so who knows. He wasn’t nice enough to spend that much money or time on or take that risk.


@Fin01 You know him well. If you think it’s only a matter of time before he hurts you or himself, putting him down is definitely something to be considered.

I think anyone who has seen a panicking horse seriously injure themselves would agree, It’s much better for the ones who really have a screw loose to exit this world peacefully, rather than in an injured and terrified state after running through a fence (or any of the other horrible things they can do to themselves).

You do have to consider your own safety as well. :yes:


Bluey, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you sharing this story.
And everyone else as well.
It’s so good to feel validated after years of hearing folks say I hadn’t “tried” enough. When he tried to turn himself inside out this morning it just broke my heart. There was absolutely no reason for it, unless the neighbor 3 properties down the road decided to move some cows before dawn. Which isn’t completely out of the question, but it shouldn’t have brought on THAT reaction.

When we first moved here husband saw him blow – again, over the cows-- and called me, frantic. “Your horse is acting like he’s going to jump the fence. Or run through it”. Granted, horse sees me and it did/ does calm him to a degree. But I can’t be in visual range of him 24/7. I can holler at him from the back porch on occasion and stop a tantrum thats’ building, but once it’s under way? Pfffft… see above.

Thanks again everyone.

That sucks you heard “You didn’t try enough.” Sometimes all we can do is manage the horse. I hope you find a solution that will help him out a bit.

I think a lot of people have met these horses and unfortunately what works for one may not work for the other.

Stay Safe!

1 Like

OP, I think people who have told you that you hadn’t “tried” enough, have not had to manage, and may not have even seen, a horse that really checks out mentally.

I’ve only known one horse that did this and the behavior was alarming. It was very different from “high strung” or “nervous” horse behavior.
He just wasn’t wired correctly. He was an unhappy horse most of the time and he was dangerous. Everyone who knew them respected his owner’s decision to let him go peacefully.


Well, tonight fireworks, of course. It’s like Disneyland here. Hit him with .25 cc dorm IV at 8:30 then .4 IM at 9. Oh, and when I brought him in from the far corner of his field at 7:30, he immediately started galloping in his corral. Hurt himself, of course, but I’ll doctor that tomorrow when I’m more comfortable putting my head near his feet.

When it was clear he had checked out again tonight at bring in, I decided to just tie him instead of put him in his 15x15’ stall. He protested at first, bucking, rearing in place, kicking out. But once resigned to his fate and full of drugs, he finally settled.

I noticed another horse down the road pacing in his field about a half hour before I brought mine in. That one is also a gelding. Hubby seems to think there’s a mare in heat somewhere, which would explain a lot. So he’ll get some Vicks’ Vapor rub in his nostrils tomorrow. Maybe tonight. I’m sure fireworks smell alarming to horses as well.

I think I have time for a beer, a shower and maybe a quick nap before I’ll check on him again. Though I can see him from my window (lights on in the barn). Maybe I’ll bring the Vicks out tonight if I have to drug him again. I think I have about 90 minutes before the IM wears off.

Tonight’s injury was minor but I’m glad I tied him. Leather halter, cotton rope, bailing twine break away. He can see what’s going on but since his feet can’t move too much he doesn’t seem to be able to pump as much adrenalin through his body. I think I may be on to something. It’s often been suggested to lunge him to ‘get rid of his energy’. Nobody believes me when I say the more you lunge this horse, the more worked up he gets. I mean, crashing-into-walls-and-falling-over worked up. You have to see it to believe it. So, it seems if I can get his feet to stay still, his mind is still as well.

Tonight anyway.

Thanks again all, for the kind words.

And 15 minutes ago he got another .3 IV and .3 IM. He was blowing through previous, trying to break the ties and the neighborhood is really ramping up with explosives.
It’s going to be a long night.

Hoping for the best for you and your horse. Fireworks never help.:cool: They’re going great guns here and will be all night.

Isn’t there an ordinance that fireworks need to stop by 10? 11?

If I have to sedate again, he’ll probably colic on me. As it is, it’s 85 here but he was shivering as he came out of the last sedation. Full sweat which is to be expected on Dorm, but I do NOT want to have to deal with colic after this. ugh…

Firework regulations really depend on where you live. I believe they are not allowed at all here, but there is always a huge neighborhood display. They are going off all around me. Not little ground based fireworks but big, up in the sky, ones that you would see in a professional display. They usually stop at about 1am but they are not legal in the first place.

You might need to call your local non-emergency fire or police number, explain the situation, ask when you can expect it to stop and kindly ask for enforcement.
Hang in there.


One of my geldings was double bred Impressive (HYPP Neg), I got him as a 4 yr old. He had his moments too, he was a perfect gentleman under saddle but handling him on the ground was always a gamble. He could be perfectly sweet and gentle and then out of no where he would bolt, take off and kick out. I always used a chain on him to handle him on the ground, people couldn’t understand why as most of the time he was completely safe, it was that out of blue crazy that you always had to be prepared for. I learned to deal with it and not make a huge issue of his behavior. I loved that horse, despite his moments of crazy he was still a sweet soul.

I also have an Appy with Impressive breeding, he is just the opposite, no spook, no bad boy behavior just your usual Appy hard headedness.

1 Like

Made it through the night, no more sedation. He was happier after his toweling off at midnight with the cotton sheet and wool cooler over his haunches. Random, little fireworks off in the distance which he seemed to handle well. Lights off, untied him and started walking back to the barn. Then my direct neighbor shot off about $1,000 worth of fireworks. Horse initially started running the fence again but seemed to just watch eventually since they were directly in front of him, just behind the house. He stood still, just jumped each time one went off. He seemed content to watch the show.

I watched HIM for another hour, then checked on him at 3. He seemed content, nibbling hay at the shared fenceline with his buddy.

At 5:30 I went out and he was bad again. Again, nothing going on, but he was fence walking and randomly trotting. Had to cross tie him to undress him and he half reared in the ties. It was before dawn so I’m not sure what happens right now. It’s not human, I dont think. For good measure I put some Vick’s vapor rub between his nostrils and let him into his field. He initially cantered off, made 2 half hearted circles, then focused on the Vick’s. It’s 7:30 now and he still hasn’t pooped since about 9 last night. But he drank some and is grazing like a fiend, but sticking close to the house. Seems calmer.

This horse hates hogs and I wonder if there’s a pack of feral hogs behind us in the wheat field. But wouldn’t the hogs not want to be around where there’s been so many fireworks the night before? It was probably the best fireworks show I’ve seen in decades. The neighbors went all out.

I’ll be researching valerian today after I take a good nap.

I cant’ tell you all how grateful I am for you sharing your stories. Thank you all so much. Hopefully there’s just 2 more nights of this insanity and we can get back to normal by Monday.

1 Like

Mystery may be solved. Just found out neighbor down the way has 2 mares, both in season.