Q: I have an off the track thoroughbred who collapses periodically. I have had him since November and he has gone down twice in the cross ties and once by the mounting block. He is 8 years old and approximately 17 hands. I recreated the situation and discovered that if I tighten the girth he goes down. He has not done this with me riding him. I do not think this is behavioral. I am just looking for directions and answers.
A: Some horses develop this odd form of collapse when they elevate their heads or when the girth is tightened without it being a specific medical issue. Sometimes muscle soreness is involved. The collapse could also be a result of sore withers, ribs fractured, or fainting from cardiac issues. I would recommend a complete physical for the horse. During the physical, I would also recommend you tightening the girth while the veterinarian watches to see if there are other areas that need exploration.
By Stephanie Valberg, DVM, PhD, University of Minnesota