Strange symptom - poop & bolt

Jesus that’s my worst nightmare. If she can’t be ridden ever again, fine, but I don’t want to lose her all together. I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I’ll definitely have x rays taken of her back, regardless of what we find in her gut just to rule it out. Are X-rays pretty conclusive in finding spinal issues?
Were there any other symptoms your horse had? Did he still roll and lay down on his own? Right now my mare is completely fine by herself and seemingly on trail rides/walking.

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I get it- and really it probably isn’t the worst case scenario. There could be so many other, treatable possibilities that are far less serious. I hope that to be the case!

The xrays were conclusive enough for my horse given the history, issues, etc. Not all horses who have spinal findings have to be retired, or even worse euthanised.

My horse’s progression happened over years, but at the end it all crumbled rather quickly. Hindsight being what it is, there was an obvious path this took. The spinal issues didnt happen overnight. He also had a laundry list of other arthritic joints and Cushings - at age 11, so there was a lot to parse out. His body was breaking down faster than we could maintain/help him despite all the efforts. If he had just 1 or 2 things, I’m not sure, maybe he would’ve been comfortable enough to be retired and just on equioxx or something. But that wasn’t the case for him unfortunately.

The biggest symptoms he had was the weird pooping/balking thing, he would roach his back and do this weird “belly dance” move almost like a learned response to anything that caught his attention. He also looked like he had a shoulder lameness, and towards the end of his riding career, he wasn’t able to move unless I sat REALLY far back in the (made for him and balanced perfectly) saddle - kind of like the old cowboy style of throwing legs forward and leaning far back on their pockets. Knowing now what the thoracic vertebrae looked like, I can see how that was shifting weight off those vertebrae.

He would not lay down in his stall the last 3-4 months or so - but he couldn’t resist a good roll outside- which he would go down but would pause getting up, and then while getting up it was almost like something would zap him he’d lose his marbles for a few seconds - not in the happy/exuberant way horses sometimes will after they roll. This was a panic run.

Don’t think of worst case scenario until it is, but work with your vet who will do their due diligence working through this. My horse I believe had issues for years, and while we were busy doing a bunch of treatments and maintenance, I do believe he was comfortable with all the therapies he was getting, until he wasn’t. I wish I did know sooner about his back because I would’ve retired him sooner, but in the end that might’ve hastened his demise because he was also not one that could sit without being in some kind of work program.

I really appreciate you sharing all this. It sounds like you had a rough time with your gelding but you did the best you could for him and made the right call at the right time.
It does give me some hope that it’s not immediately threatening, my mare has no issues otherwise as of now, a chiropractor checked her out around 4ish months ago and said she was perfectly sound only with some slight tightness in her left shoulder muscle, which we’ve been stretching out and warming up well before rides and she’s never been lame on it. I’ll check it next time the chiropractor is out though just to be sure.
Hopefully if it is a spinal issue it’s not too late to catch it but I am definitely hoping it’s something in the gut that’s easily treatable and doesn’t stop her from being in work. She loves trails so much and I know she’d go a little stir crazy without a job. Hopefully I’ll know a little more tomorrow at her vet appointment.

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Very curious to see what you end up finding out here! My mare has been acting grumpy and pinning her ears during rides until she gets her poop out and then is way more relaxed afterwards… I’ve been noticing it more this week and immediately thought of this thread!!

My late gelding had all kinds of anxiety around pooping. He had some major SI issues.

Current horse was taught to stop and poop in Europe. But he would continue at the canter usually. He started having some trouble cantering and pooping. Would need to stop. And stop when he thought he might have to poop while cantering. Also had some difficulty in canter generally. We just found some changes in his lumbar spine that were not visible on X-ray. And some changes on one SI joint. He also was having anxiety for the farrier, but on the opposite side from where the pathology is. Occasionally made me go hmmm from a neuro standpoint (tested for EPM and such). I imagine he has some nerves being affected. I’m sure last horse did as well as localized pain because he also really hated it when he was gassy…which for horses can be a lot of the time!

Both horses are/were totally fine pooping standing still though first horse did make more of a production about it.

I’m waiting on my vets to collaborate as to what treatment to consider other than strengthening of the back for current horse. We had injected his SI once already and he did get better with the pooping for a while after that.

So far we did a rectal exam, found nothing that would cause this issue (no tears, tumors, ovaries felt normal, etc) so the next step is a scope of her stomach, and if that yields nothing we will X-ray and see if it’s a spinal issue. I’ll update here if we find anything concrete!


Crossing fingers that it’s nothing serious. Good luck!


Scope done and we found several grade 1 & 2 ulcers in there, many in the splash zone of her stomach so vet said it’s incredibly likely that movement/pooping made the acids splash and effectively irritate her ulcers. There was possibly signs of more beyond what the scope could clearly see but at that point we had enough evidence to just go ahead and do treatment. I’ve ordered the ulcerguard so we will start her on that asap, and hopefully in about a month or so we’ll see improvement. If she does this explosive behavior after that we will have to X-ray her and check her again, I may have the chiro back out to see if he can feel anything just in case.

I’ll keep y’all updated if anything else happens.


Thanks for the update, hopefully treatment will get her feeling better soon!

Ask your vet about treating with Sucralfate in addition to the ulcergard. It’s great for pyloric and hindgut ulcers

Although my horse never had an issue like yours, he was a bad rear-er and would just plant it. I wish you all the best