Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Lying Down More Than Normal, or Getting Up & Down

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If this is a new behavior and you fear it is due to a physical problem.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp>101F/38.3C) or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If this seems mild or occasional and the horse seems normal otherwise.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Every horse is an individual and some spend more time lying down and resting than others. That said, if your horse seems to be lying down more than normal, it may be an indication of abdominal pain (colic), especially if you get them back up and they quickly lie down again. Horses that are in abdominal pain may also appear to stagger, making a person think that their horse is actually collapsing rather than lying down to escape pain.

Horses may also lie down excessively when it hurts to stand (severe lameness in multiple limbs and especially pain in multiple feet).

WHAT TO DO

If you feel safe handling the horse, assess the horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to heart rate, gum color, intestinal motility, digital pulse and rectal temperature. Monitor the horse for a few moments. Offer a handful of feed that you think they would normally eagerly eat. Take note of the response. If the horse tries to lie down again over the next 5-10 minutes, or you notice any other of the signs of abdominal pain, contact your vet immediately with your findings and concerns.

If the horse is lying quietly, let them lie until your vet arrives. If the horse is rolling or is up and down repeatedly, your vet might advise you to walk the horse until they arrive.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet will try to rule out the conditions causing colic (abdominal pain) as these are the most common reasons for a horse to suddenly lie down more than normal or to repeatedly get up and down. History and physical exam findings help us to understand the nature of the problem and to determine the best diagnostic tests needed to get more information and to allow the best treatment.

POSSIBLE TREATMENTS or TherapiesTo Lessen or Resolve the Sign

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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