View Full Version : Putting an 11 year old horse down.

Mar. 3, 2001, 04:06 PM
I am trying to figure out whether to donate my horse, Buster, to Cornell University, where they will use him for academic purposes for a few months, then put him down.

He is 11, and he has been lame on and off for the two years I have had him. He has navicular pain in his front feet (clean X-rays) which require $150 aluminum shoes and pads every four weeks. He has ringbone behind, which requires injections once every 8 months.

For about 9 months last year, he was sound, doing flat work and jumping once a week(now he is lame), but he is a costly horse to maintain throughout the process. However, now that I am on the west coast and he is on the east coast, it is becoming an expense that I cannot even reap the benefits of, since I never see him.

I am afraid if I give him away to a kid for a backyard horse, they will not be able to shoe him every four weeks. I am afraid if I give him away as a companion horse, he will run like a maniac, make himself lame, and his new owners will send him to the sales.

When he is turned out, he runs so hard on his navicular feet that he cannot walk for days. On four grams of Bute, he is STILL lame from running like an idiot a full two weeks ago.

I am just thinking it is better to give him to Cornell, let them use him for several months (to teach the vet students how to deal with navicular horse), and just resign myself to the fact that they will then put him down.

Can anyone give me any advice or share how they made such a decision? It makes me sad, but I also just cannot dignify putting Buster in a place where he might someday suffer (e.g. in someone's backyard).

Will I regret this?

Thanks in advance for the advice. /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

Mar. 3, 2001, 04:06 PM
I am trying to figure out whether to donate my horse, Buster, to Cornell University, where they will use him for academic purposes for a few months, then put him down.

He is 11, and he has been lame on and off for the two years I have had him. He has navicular pain in his front feet (clean X-rays) which require $150 aluminum shoes and pads every four weeks. He has ringbone behind, which requires injections once every 8 months.

For about 9 months last year, he was sound, doing flat work and jumping once a week(now he is lame), but he is a costly horse to maintain throughout the process. However, now that I am on the west coast and he is on the east coast, it is becoming an expense that I cannot even reap the benefits of, since I never see him.

I am afraid if I give him away to a kid for a backyard horse, they will not be able to shoe him every four weeks. I am afraid if I give him away as a companion horse, he will run like a maniac, make himself lame, and his new owners will send him to the sales.

When he is turned out, he runs so hard on his navicular feet that he cannot walk for days. On four grams of Bute, he is STILL lame from running like an idiot a full two weeks ago.

I am just thinking it is better to give him to Cornell, let them use him for several months (to teach the vet students how to deal with navicular horse), and just resign myself to the fact that they will then put him down.

Can anyone give me any advice or share how they made such a decision? It makes me sad, but I also just cannot dignify putting Buster in a place where he might someday suffer (e.g. in someone's backyard).

Will I regret this?

Thanks in advance for the advice. /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

Mar. 3, 2001, 05:09 PM
and ask the college not to put him down, but find a good home where he can live his days eating and being sassy. Auburn Vet school in Alabama never put the horses down that people donate. Some will get well and put through a sale, but the ones they cannot well stays at the school and teached students what is what and also farriers.

See if Cornell Univ will do this, or just send they guy to Auburn. I have a cat named Buster....it breaks my heart that your horse is not doing well. I had a mare who contracted EPM. IT's not fun.....I'm sorry.

Mar. 3, 2001, 05:39 PM
Thanks for the support.
Nikkibaby, the problem is that if Auburn gets Buster sound (which they likely will, b/c he does get sound with the proper shoes. . . for a while) and then they sell him, I will forever worry.

This is a horse that goes lame if he is not shod every 4-5 weeks. And he is expensive to shoe - $150!! Every 4-5 weeks. I will worry that the person who buys him is not going to be willing to spend that much money on his feet so frequently.

What if Auburn sell him to a family that wants a horse, but tries to cut corners on his feet? He'll go dead lame, and I just cannot face putting him through it. And God forbid they cannot afford to get him sound so they send him to a sale. He has been too good to me to ever subject him to that risk. This is what I really am worrying about.

That said, you gave me good advice /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif and I will call Auburn on Monday, and see if they want him on the condition that when they are done using him, they will put him down. Thank you for the tip.

Mar. 3, 2001, 05:41 PM
ljp, i just saw your message. i will check into that, too. I still have the same fears, though. Who *really* wants a horse with this kind of maintenance? That said, thank you, and I will look into it.

Mar. 3, 2001, 05:51 PM
When sound what is he capable of? If properly maintained, can he have a "job"? If so, have you thought of giving him away to a good home?

Mar. 3, 2001, 05:52 PM
Ok, this is just a suggestion because I have no sort of experience in this field whatsoever, but I was thinking...

Could you donate him to a Theraputic (sp?) or Handicapped riding program where he could be useful to lead kids around on when he's sound? Maybe if someone had a purpose for him, they wouldn't mind paying the money to get him shod well and often.

I have no idea what those type of situations are like, but it was just a thought. I'm sorry your horse is in pain /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

Mar. 3, 2001, 05:54 PM
Elizabeth, you could also consider just putting him down from the start, unless there are fnancial reasons to donate. I've always found it sad that horses can't seem to make the connection between the pain and the activity which causes it. If you do end up donating, I'd send him to the closest place that meets your criteria. You'll end up spending a good bit shipping him to Auburn when the situation at Cornell would be roughly equivalent and shipping cannot be too comfortable on his feet. Best to you...

Mar. 3, 2001, 05:56 PM
Elizabeth, there are many options for horses with navicular syndrome these days, besides shoeing. Nerving is sometimes a viable option and these days they don't numb the entire foot, so that there is feeling there. There are also many medications and injections available, isoxuprine and Adequan both have been used to alleviate the pain caused by navicular.

I have a 26 year old gelding with navicular syndrome. I have him in the Tennessee Navicular Shoe, which works wonders for him. I realize that nothing works for every horse, but these shoes might be worth looking into. I don't believe that they are quite as expensive as what you are talking about, and he goes a normal 6 weeks in them.

Please email me about the Cornell option. My address is given below.

Mar. 3, 2001, 05:58 PM
Yes, Rockford and Slugger.

As to the therapeutic riding program, that is actually what my trainer suggested. Before I got Buster, his old trainer occasionally used him for W-T-C lessons b/c he suffers the fools. If he knows the rider cannot ride, he is very quiet. I guess I just did not think such a program would want a horse that has expensive feet. . . .

As to the "job" question, he can be a low level dressage horse. When I was in Md. with him, a third-fourth level dressage kid would take her weekly lesson on him b/c her horse was lame. Buster doesn't know a lot, but he knows the basics. Could he be a high level horse? No. Could he be a low-level horse. Sure.

He could also be some kid's cross-rail horse, but the fear there is that some kid will try to then make him her novice horse. Cross-rails he could do - 2'6" lessons every week he could not do.

Again, though, if you were me, would you worry about the notion of "what if he goes lame"? What will his new owners do then? My one friend tells the horror story of giving her old 20 y.o. navicular horse away as a trail horse and later finding out that he was Buted up and shown. I could not - NOT - sleep at night worrying that someone was doing that to Buster. That's what I mean when I say he does not deserve that. I'd rather put him down.

Do you really think it is possible to find a good home for him where the owners will commit to shoeing him well, and commit to donating him (as opposed to sending him to a sale) when he has ceased to stay sound consistently?

Slugger, I know you know the horse world - have you seen these sorts of situations work out?

Mar. 3, 2001, 06:24 PM
Twister: Thank you. Just to clarify, there are no financial reasons to donate. Instead, I would do it for two reasons:
(1) It would prolong Buster's life for a few months at no cost to him. Meaning, all Cornell Vet School would use him for, as I understand it, is training of vets as to how to shoe/diagnose a navicular horse. The care there is good, and they would not be using him for testing or anything painful.
(2) The vet from Virginia Tech (Dr. Vanessa Cook) who figured out why Buster was lame a year and a half ago is now at Cornell. If she can use Buster as a model for purposes of new vets learning how to diagnose an undiagnosable lameness, all the better. Prior to Dr. Cook diagnosing Buster a year and a half ago (after five hours of exams, six nerve blocks, and 26 x-rays, mind you!), I had vets in Vt. and Ct. and Md. scratching their heads as to why Buster was on-his-head lame. If Buster can go to Cornell and teach other vets how to diagnose an undiagnosable lameness, some good will have come of this. It will save some other poor horse the agony Buster went through in the eight months before he was finally diagnosed.

Louise, I will e-mail you. Thank you.

BTW, my trainer's husband believes Buster can stay sound on 4 grams of Bute, and he thinks keeping Buster on 4 grams of Bute is doing him no disservice. He says lots of horses are kept up like that. . . . So I guess he would agree with you, Louise.

Mar. 3, 2001, 06:30 PM
BTW- Elizabeth, you seem like a very smart person who cares a lot about Buster, which is why I am sure that whatever decision you make will be a good one. Good luck.

Mar. 3, 2001, 06:33 PM
Thank you, doubletake. This is hard, but I thank you for your kind words.

My poor fluffy horse. . . .

Mar. 3, 2001, 06:44 PM
I am no expert (thankfully) in the navicular area. But my vet is also my good friend and she believes quite strongly that Bute should be used sparingly. What I mean is, a dosage like 4 grams of Bute daily for a prolonged period may relieve his navicular pain but may cause other problems like stomach issues. I'm not quoting, just hoping there's maybe a vet or a person with some experience in this area on the BB that could clarify. Can high doses of Bute cause problems, too?

B.G.M. heidi
Mar. 3, 2001, 06:46 PM
There is a point at which our horses are no longer of active service to us -- but have earned, with heart and honesty, a retirement.

In prior threads elizabeth you have stated that you are the youngest partner in a law firm - I will assume, then, that you can afford to keep the horse.

If the current board is too high, move him to a less expensive barn. There are many, many people in our barn who have retired their horses to less expensive barns where they are loved and their health assured. Some of these women have had to assume second jobs to do so.

If you are reluctant to pay his $150 monthly shoeing bill, I do worry that whomever may take him will be even more reluctant to do so -- after all, they will not have had the emotional history with Buster that you do and will more readily dismiss his needs.

I'll concede, though, that the decision is a personal one and you are the best equipped to determine what's best for Buster.

Mar. 3, 2001, 06:48 PM
I have found that the few times in my life with horses I have had to make a decision like this, I struggled and struggled and then suddenly somehow it just became clear what I had to do. I hope something similar happens for you because I know you want to honor the great guy Buster is and be at peace with your decision.

Mar. 3, 2001, 06:55 PM
Okay, I have to toss in my two horror stories of giving horses away to what I thought were good homes. Warning: This is not meant to mean that everyone who gets a free horse doesn't look after it, okay? I've been given 4 free horses over the years, and they lived out wonderful lives with us as babysitters/pony horses... but that's not always the case...

1. Glady was an older TB broodmare we used to breed race horses. She was also a nice riding/pleasure horse. She became unsound due to flare-up of racing injuries, and barren. I gave her to a fellow who provided me with references. He had Glady for years, and took beginner dressage lessons on her. But when HE could no longer use the mare, he gave her to a woman in who claimed she'd put her out on her pasture with another retiree and her 2 mules. Yadda-yadda-yadda... years go by and I'm judging a schooling show and low and behold I'm in the shedrow of this equestrian center and I see a leather halter with the nameplate "Glady". How many can there be? A girl led me outside to the most pathetic sight I've ever seen: my once beautiful, regal Glady was a rack of bones! She had a huge tumorous growth of proud flesh on one ankle. She was all scarred and banged up. It turned out that that Gary had suddenly gotten the urge to check up on Glady and found her nearly starved in that "pasture" which turned out to be a dirt lot. He rescued her and was attempting to give her a few good days at the end. Unfortunately, it turned out she collapsed and died the next day. I often feel guilty about that. Glady served me well. I should've put her down myself. I know I trusted Gary, but he, in turn, passed her off to someone else. That's the problem with giving a horse away. You can't control what happens with the next step.

#2. Now I'm really bummed, so I'll make it brief... /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif I had a nice, black appendix quarter horse I showed L.A. county and A circuit in the amateur hunter/eq. divisions. He got terrible navicular. Nothing helped. I gave him to a couple who ran what I thought was a lovely, reputable riding school. He was to be used as a walk/trot & crossrail horse. Well, 2 years later, I see an ad for him in a magazine, with a photo of him jumping a sizeable fence, and he's for sale: for $5,000! /infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

I guess the moral to this story is that there's no such thing as a sure thing once the horse leaves your possession. A therapeutic riding program is a really good idea; most of them will sign a document that they'll euthanize the horse if it becomes unuseable. But will they provide the necessary upkeep? I have no clue. The Cornell donation... hmmmm. Can you truly control what they'd do with him? How do you know for certain that he won't be used like an equine guinea pig? Nerving is an option, but it's certainly not a cure-all, and you said he has ringbone behind, which is only treatable with injections. And 4 grams of bute a day? Geez, no offense, but eventually your horse may develop ulcers or anemia... but I guess if the trade-off is being dead...?

We're very fortunate that we can maintain about one lawn ornament at a time. Not everyone is so lucky. It's a tough decision, but I'm sure you'll give this lots of thought and make a humane, ethical one.

By the way, you don't have a friend back east that either has or could recommend a retirement pasture/paddock that'd cost you a nominal amount monthly? They could keep an eye on Buster for you. If he does eventually run himself crippled, well, then, he's had a blast for a while, and then the decision is made for you.

Mar. 3, 2001, 06:57 PM
Elizabeth, Heidi's post seems to offer the best solution. Great post, Heidi, btw- thank you for your eloquent expression of the ideal solution.

Unfortunately, I don't know of any situations where a give-away-to-good-home situation has worked for a horse who is restricted to under two feet. The problem being that a rider will progress past the point of the horse's capability so quickly, and I know you would be worried about what would happen to him at that point. But then, I also freely admit to knowing next to nothing about dressage, which may be an option worth exploring. I wish you the best, Elizabeth. What a painful crossroads... All of my empathy and sympathy is with you.

Mar. 3, 2001, 07:14 PM
Heidi, there are problems with your otherwise correct suggestion (you are talking, by the way, to a woman who vowed never, ever to put this animal down. I told my mother that I would rather be paying $10,000 a year to keep him than put him down and forever regret it. That was before I realize what a catch-22 I am in.):
(1) He runs like an idiot when he is turned- out. An idiot. And he makes himself dead lame. This is the problem. To retire him to a pasture would mean he would run all day - he has no sense of understanding where the pain is coming from. He literally ran himself so sore two weeks ago that he could not lift his front leg to let us pull off his bell boot. So, while my trainers and I have discussed that option, we cannot fathom he would be happy as a retired horse.
(2) Which brings us to donating him to a kid or something. . . . Merry's horror stories are almost a sure thing with this guy. His personality is such that the urge to Bute him up and jump him 3' would be too tempting for most mortals. And he suffers the fools. God bless him, he is a packer. How can I prevent that when I am clear across the country? I would love to give him away as a trail horse - he will be limbered up, but he won't be in a position where he can run uncontrolled, but how do you find that kind of situation??
(3) I could ship him out here and turn him out, but I have no idea where to put him. I mean, I have found NO turn-out facility that would give him what he needs - fully supervised turn-out so that someone can stop him when he is running himself into the ground. I've asked - Merry, coreene, AAJumper - you all remember, right?

So here I stand. . . .
What the h*ll do I do?

(I'm not a partner, by the way - I was the youngest associate they have ever had. Not that that is relevant, but I did not want you to think I was misleading you.)

Mar. 3, 2001, 07:23 PM
Are you indeed willing to ship him out here?

Would he stay sound enough to be used as a walk/trot lesson horse? Would you be willing to pay his farrier bill in exchange for "giving" him to a reputable riding school as a beginner lesson horse until he could no longer provide that service, and needed to be put down?

What about using him as a trail horse/pony horse? Is he bombproof on the trails? Could he eventually be a mounted police horse?

... or is he a total cripple? I mean, even with the expensive shoes and bute on the days he's going to be used, does he still limp? If he's not out every day, does he get high, in which case he needs to be lunged before a beginner's lesson, which then makes him lame?

The reason I'm asking is because I can think of several horses that have been essentially "feed leased" to nice riding schools or people who have horse property. These horses are maintained by the leasees, but they don't own the horse. It's done with the understanding that eventually the horse may become so unsound that it's unuseable, in which case you'll have to authorize him being put down. There's one appy mare who is yes, "off", but a young woman with some mental disabilities "owns" her and the mare has taught this gal to ride and is still going strong after 3 years!

Mar. 3, 2001, 07:25 PM
I am so sorry, elizabeth, that you will have to deal with something so awful, and he is only 11. /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif My only thoughts might be:

...a retirement farm for horses, where he could simply be turned out 24/7, buted as needed, sad as that may be, and just shoed to keep him comfortable, no riding stress, unless YOU dictate how much and when, etc., and don't take no for an answer when you ask his new "owners" to do something with him.
<<Ah, sorry, just read your latest post about his turnout troubles. Has he ever been on 24 hour turnout for an extended amount of time to let him adjust to it? To let him get the idea that he has time to do more than just run? Or have you done that, and he still just runs and runs and runs....>>

...therapeutic riding sounds good also, as long as he would only be doing minimal work, or as much sa he can eaily tolerate.

...possibly a pasture buddy for someone with another elderly/pasture ornament horse--someone you know and trust and that you may have an agreement about what happens if XXX occurs, etc. You want to be able to move him out, change things for him if needed, not just sitting at home worrying.
<<Again, the turnout thing, hmmm>>

...I also agree with what heidi said about shoeing--if you think the bill is high, just imagine what some one who is not attached to him as you are will think. Not pleasant to imagine.

...if nothing else seems viable, maybe the best thing would sadly to be to give him to Cornell. It would be insanely difficult, but like you said, the last thing either of you needs is a situation in which you would be worried and he might not be receiving adequate care. /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

Good luck, I am so sorry you have deal with such an awful situation.

[This message was edited by Kellybird on Mar. 03, 2001 at 10:31 PM.]

Mar. 3, 2001, 07:29 PM
Those are good suggestions, Merry and Kellybird. Shipping him to __(wherever you live) would be a good idea. You could check up on him every once in a while. Many people want a companion and would love to take care of a horse. You could possibly split the shoeing costs with somebody who could provide a loving home for him.

Mar. 3, 2001, 07:39 PM
I think that Merry's suggestion of feed-leasing may be a good one. That way:

-you would not have to pay the bills
-you would still be in control of where he goes
-if he somehow gets in a situation you don't like, you can take him out of it because you still own him

For example, you could find a place where a little kid could pay for his food, board, etc. in return for use of him. Then maybe they could sign an agreement where they are only allowed to walk, trot, canter...or whatever is best for him...

Mar. 3, 2001, 07:42 PM
Texas A&M has a special equine foot program, and a friend of mine just donated her horse when his feet were more than she could care for. I can give you her email address, if you'd like to talk to her about your options.

And there is an equine vet/podiatrist in Lexington or Louisville who is THE expert on horse feet. He has appeared at Equitana and does long distance consulting via foot x-rays. I forget his name again, but someone on the board knows. He has a web site, for some reason, I didn't bookmark it. It may be that he can suggest some miracles for Buster, that might or might not involve some of the things that Louise mentioned.

Is it not possible that you could donate to Cornell with a proviso that if he is well enough to be sold, you would have first refusal?

Mar. 3, 2001, 07:46 PM
My friend had a horse that had an extreme case of navicular disease by age 8. She loved the horse very much and didn't want to just dispose of her. She found a place in So.CA (near my barn in fact) that had 2000 acres for horses to roam. She pulled her shoes and turned her out, and she was sound in a year! Now, I'm not saying that Buster would improve, but have you considered that having the ability to constantly move around over various terrain might make him more comfortable? I mean, he might run initially, but any horse truely out to pasture soon seems to lose the impulse to really run around, IMO. And the more you don't let them run around, the more wild they are when they do get out.

I also faced the same dilemma with my first horse, Whitney. She was in her 20's and I was a poor college student. She was really off in the hind end, apparently from an injury that never seemed to heal in the stifle region. Plus, her hocks were not so good, and this was in the days before Adequan. So we finally decided that the arthritis and old age had taken it's toll and had her put to sleep. It was horrible, and I still wonder if I made the right decision. Whenever, I think about it, I get really sad. But also, I just couldn't afford to keep a horse as a lawn ornament and keep paying for expensive tests/treatments, etc....not on a Target cashier's salary. That still makes me feel guilty....that the financial part of it all came into the decision.

So I would suggest that if you are willing and able to pay for him to be turned out to pasture, you might want to consider trying it for a month or two, and if he is too miserable, then consider other options.

Mar. 3, 2001, 07:55 PM
You are in a tough situation. I only have one comment to make about donating your horse to Cornell. I do not know anything about the methods and practices that Cornell uses when they euthanize a horse. I can tell you that the method that two very large and very well known vet schools use is not very nice. This is something you might want to consider if you donate your horse. I can honestly say that I would be having a hard time making a decision too if I was in your situation. My thoughts are with you and your horse.

[This message was edited by Laurel on Mar. 03, 2001 at 11:09 PM.]

Mar. 3, 2001, 10:32 PM
Oh, you guys are wonderful for working through this with me. Let's see:

Merry -
Yes, the vet thinks he can be made serviceably sound. My trainer's hubby (jumphigh83's husband) actually thinks we can get Buster back to where he was a few months ago - sound for W-T-C without Bute. Further:
(1) Buster has proven to us that he is good with beginners. With me, he might buck and a spook if he feels good in the cold weather. With beginners, he plods along, very aware of who he has on his back. Again, his prior owner used him as a lesson horse, including for W-T-C. No lunging needed, but he needed to get out each day - either ridden a bit or a bit of turn-out (not a field's worth with other horses, b/c then he will run)- otherwise there was a risk that he will be rude (out of boredom since he is used to getting out of his stall each day for an hour or two).
Merry, if you think there is hope for finding a kid to have him out here or a W-T program that needs an extra horse, that changes my calculus. That puts me in a position where I can keep half an eye on him. I can give him to someone who wants him, but I can do it on the condition that they call me if he gets unuseable or I can check in every month to be sure he hasn't taken a turn for the worse. Then it would be acceptable, in my mind, to put him through the stress of shipping him out here. He then has an option at living, and we can do it in a way that I can ensure he is not suffering at the hands of a misguided free-lease person. And offering to pay for shoeing or part of it is actually an option I had contemplated from the beginning. (My vet and I discussed it a few weeks ago, as a way to ensure that a person with a good home could AFFORD Buster.)
(2) My trainer thinks he is bombproof on trails, and every other trainer who has had him has thought that. I, however, have only ridden him on trails a few times. The first time per season, he looks for a reason to spook. After that, it is old hat.
(3) I don't think his legs would hold up as a police horse if he was ridden on concrete. I don't think he bombproof enough, either, though he's not a flighty TB either. He, like most Appy's, is darn loyal and sensible.
(4) Companion horse is a tough call. He is very friendly, and he has never NOT gotten along with any of his pasturemates. The problem, however, is that he gets them to play and run. I guess the question is whether he would stop that after a week or two with the same horse. . . . In Md., he did. He ran like an idiot in the gelding field, but he quieted down in a two-horse paddock. In NY, he ran like an idiot with three other horses, but he quieted down with just one other. . . .

Kellybird & AAJumper & AOJumper & Rockford & Vineyridge & everyone: Thank you for working through all those options for me. As I noted above, when I had Buster in Md. and he was on-his-head lame, he still ran like an idiot, every single day, and the barn owner finally had to take him out of the gelding field b/c he would get everyone running. And at jumphigh's farm, I put him out with the 40 year old horse and two mares, and he raced the freakin' 40 year old. That is how he came up lame two weeks ago. But, as I noted above, he settled down when he was with just one horse. Maybe it is worth a try, if I can find a retirement/turn-out facility in SoCal. It is better than the other option, to be sure.

AAJumper, can you e-mail me the name of the barn your friend brought her horse to for retirement? At least I can call them and discuss it. The worst that could happen is that he could come out here, it wouldn't work, and then I would put him down. Which is where I would be anyway.

Vineyridge, UC Davis has a donation program? Maybe I should check in with them. . . .

That's what was making me think Cornell was my only resort. I could not see a way to bring Buster out here because I had no back-up plan. I love where AAJumper keeps her horse, but it is a show facility. And if we cannot get Buster sound enough to be put into a program, he really will not fit in there. A kid program, though, or a W-T-C program is a good back-up option. Or even knowing that there is a retirement facility that I can try retiring him at is good to know. That means I have options. That means it might be reasonable to ship him out here to CA, keep him at the place where AAJumper keeps her horse for a few months to see how sound we can get him, then figure out what to do. . . .

Guys, will you please let me know specifically that you know of turn-out or retirement places or of places that would want a W-T-C horse so that I can be sure (well, as sure as anyone can be - I know circumstances always change) that I really do have options?

Thank you, all of you. I now have things to think about.

[This message was edited by elizabeth on Mar. 04, 2001 at 01:39 AM.]

Mar. 3, 2001, 10:46 PM
If you are willing to pay to have him shipped out here and then board him and see how sound you can get him, that's an admirable gesture. If he stays serviceably sound, yes, I can at least give you 3 or 4 riding schools/programs that I can vouch for that MIGHT need a low-level school horse on a feed lease deal.

Mar. 4, 2001, 03:19 AM
This is such a horrible thing to deal with. Now not all horses show clean on an x-ray, I wonder if it is not the ringbone that makes him "on his head lame". I would tend to think that, shoeing him for Naviclular up front would eleviate the pressure of the overload to lighten the back end. In addition, that may be why he runs around like it doensn't bother him, when it is calssifing but the excess concussion may "loosen" the area making him sore. Did they tell you what type of ringbone?

Mar. 4, 2001, 05:20 AM
Re the turnout/idiot thing... you may think you have already tried everything, but...I have seen many, many cases in which too much "care" has inadvertently led to just the catch-22 situation you are in, Elizabeth. It sounds like you would have little to lose by considering the following. In many "full-care" situations, individual turnout is the norm, and often, in smaller paddocks...or coming off a regular work routine or any regime that results in fitness, many horses will become impatient with t/o, bothered by flies, lonely, etc--and as we all know, will run the fence line like, well...IDIOTS....! Whatever causes it, the running habit can be a real pain to deal with, but I have (in several situations, not just isolated cases) known them to be cured of this--think of it as "deprograming?" The complication that he gets lame from this might even help you a little, strange as it may sound....I would suggest, finding a new barn with huge, grassy turnout, where horses are kept 24/7 outside, with pleasant and very placid turnout companions (the more the merrier), and tranquilizing him before turning him out?? If he runs, give him some bute, a cold hose session, and turn him back out...if he is sore enough and out enough, he won't run forever, even if he does run for a mighty long time (days, and days)...and if he is out long enough on R&R, he may even cure himself of some of the soundness problems that have sucked you into this cycle of restrictive T/O, pent up energy, running, lameness, more restrictive T/O, more pent up energy, etc...This may sound drastic and, but I would even go so far as to suggest that you have those expensive shoes pulled off and let him go barefoot for an extended period --months, and months-- during which time he gets NO work, and let his feet find thier natural balance (refer to the COTH artical several months ago on the natural foot, especially the parts concerning navicular)( I assume he gets a biotin supplement to keep his feet as healthy as they can be)...If you are able to try this, you might just end up with a drastically different horse than one whose only options at the moment seem to be veterinary research and the grave, or an uncertain future at the hands of adoptees.

Mar. 4, 2001, 05:26 AM
I didn't notice p.2!!! But I think that if you have the time to try it, the extended t/o, supervised "no" care is the way to go! Let him race the 40 y/o's and all the rest---they won't, don't, really won't run FOREVER---you just have to find a barn where the owners know that (ou'd be surprised at how many don't)--the fact that your trainer's husband really believes that he can be "brought back" to use reinforces my hunch that with less, not more ($$) care, your horse may indeed eventually return to work--be forewarned though, nature takes a LONG time to undo what we have unwittingly "done"--it may take a year or so of turnout (feet take about 6-8 months to grow down from the coronary assuming a good hoof suppliment is used) before you will have a "new" horse to evaluate....and in my experience, many TRAINERS are very reluctant to wait that long...

[This message was edited by JustJump on Mar. 04, 2001 at 08:37 AM.]

Lord Helpus
Mar. 4, 2001, 05:28 AM

I feel for you and for Buster, but -- bottom line, is that I think you should have him put down yourself. Your options are:

DONATING HIM: I have tried to give horses to Vet schools. At U Cal/Davis, I was all set to sign the papers, then I asked the vet I was dealing with (for the lameness problem) "If this was your horse, would you donate him?" After an awkward pause, the answer came back "No". Vets know the schools need donations so thay cannot discourage you, but this vet told me about the big field that the research horses are out in. A new horse is at the bottom of the pecking order and if he cannot get out of the way fast enough, he will get kicked and bitten by the others. He will also be pushed out of the way for the feed/hay. Plus, they cannot allow horses out in these fields to have hind shoes on, because of the damage to other horses (and front shoeing is sporadic--not automatic, if a shoe is lost).

This vet made it very clear that donated horses are NOT kept according to the standards you and I would keep them. For a lame horse, to me, donation is not a good option.

GIVING THE HORSE AWAY: I agree with all of the above. No matter how careful you try to be, you cannot know that Buster will not end up in a very bad situation.

RETIRING HIM YOURSELF: Retirement pastures are not cheap. And if you are 3000 miles away, you cannot keep an eye on him. And, as you said, he will run himself lame.

TAKING HIM TO CALIFORNIA: I have been a beginning attorney in California. I know how hard I worked for a (relatively) modest amount. I certainly had little time to spend at a stable for the first couple of years. That is a LONG van ride for a lame horse. And board is horrendous out there -- you would have to have him in a program to keep him worked during the week, since there is no turn out... (and on weekends when you work both Sat and Sun). We are talking probably $800 + a month just in board/training. Could you do it? Probably. Coupd you do it and also support another horse which can do the things you want to do? Probably not. Buster is 11. He easily could live 15 more years. Just think of the escalation in board bills by the year 2016.....

I know my view is not a popular one. It is a pragmatic one. I think that we owe our animals a good and pain free life, and if we cannot provide it, then we owe them a dignified and pain free death. Giving him away to an uncertain future is just avoiding making the hard decision yourself. But, ultimately, it may not be the kindest thing you can do.

[This message was edited by PamM on Mar. 04, 2001 at 08:39 AM.]

Mar. 4, 2001, 05:39 AM
NOt really the same situation, but I had to make the decision to have me dam of my two current horses put down. At 27 and not doing well I simply couldn't justify shipping her from southern Ca to michigan. She was CA born and raised and I didn;t think she could handle the change, if she made it out in the first place. The lady in CA had tried to find a place to retire her too, and such, but had no luck, so I felt it was the irght decision. I felt it unfair after a life of providing beautiful foals to send her someplace where she might not have the best care. HEr age and the fact that she was not doing great ( loosing weight, etc) made the dicision easier. But I still feel badly that i didn't try to do more. Though I am focussing on maintaining the two I have, which is very hard on a day care teachers salary!!! But I am committed to it.
I think everyone has made some good suggestions... I would seriously look into the theraputic riding program.. if he can be kept sound... then some programs might be able to maintain his shoeing. Often times such programs get donated services as well, or highly discounted services. remember your $150 shoe job is not because of the shoes.. it is the cost of the farrier's time and efforts. So if the riding program has a farrier whois willing and knowledgeable enough to do the shoe job it may not be as expensive to maintain the horse.
Also i would be wary about so much Bute. Bute can be vary harsh on the stomache. Obviously if dosne't upset him too much now, but in the long run it could get ugly. You may want to try some less intense medication... my mare was supposedly diangnosed with ringbone and she is fine for dressage, but as she is 15 I have her on next level, and the B-L solution ( aka Buteless). WE tried a low does of bute, but she refuses it so I found an alternative. I have had great results. And she is happy. Of course she is not navicular, though i have a hard time understanding your horse has navicular if the x-rays are clean?? I would suspect the ringbone more, especailly if he is running.
Lastly, I had to donate a horse to someone, as he was chronically lame. I had inherited my curretn two horses, and simply couldn't afford three horses, I have trouble affording two!!! but I was lucky enough to find someone whoe I knew only wanted a lawn ornament possibly to do some trail rides. i know he is happy at his new home. I was shocked to find out he gives their kids bareback leadline rides in the yard, but obviously he is at peice at his new home. I knew I made the right decision when he immediately bonded with the husband. He had always hated and feared men due to an abusive trainer, and to see him loving on a man made my decision easier. I knew they would take care of him. And they agreed that if they couldn't take care of him they would send him back to me...so I could find a new home if need be. So you can find a good home, it does take time though.. it took me almost a year to find the right place for him. So don;t give up.

Mar. 4, 2001, 07:07 AM
You are in a very difficult situacion but I think your inital thoughts on sending Buster to Cornell or having him put to sleep at home where you can always know he is safe is the best decision. I have had navicular horses come into my barn and horses with ringbone as well. I have nerved and given away the navicular horses and found them excellent homes but there is one problem with that. The horse will eventually need to be nerved again. The nerves do regenerate and how can you be sure that the person who took your horse will give him the medical attention he needs or not sell him/give him away without disclosing the fact he is nerved. Unfortunately with ringbone it just progresses and I have looked into helping or stopping the growth but it was not feasable. Vets told me there was only a 5-10% chance that it would help my horse if he did not summer terribly and then develop an infection at first.
My aunt is a board certified surgeon and tenured professor (large animal) at Cornell. I would be happy to privately give you her number as she is very well known and respected as a surgeon and teacher as well as an animal lover. When I had to put my favorite pony in the world down due to cancer, I would have done anything in the world for him. I vowed to God that I would even give up teaching if he would just let my pony live. Well my pony started to degenerate and the time came to act. I did not put him down at my house because I could not bear that but I sent him to Marion Dupont Scott Center where they had been trying to help him through this. There he was peacefully put down (witnessed by a friend since I could not bring my self to be there) and studied so that there was hope to learn more about cancer and how to cure it. He was only 14 years old, the best little guy you could ever ask for and in a report later that month I received a very kind letter which stated that Willy must have been living on sheer will and love for me because 60% of his major organs were infested with cancer.
Sorry, got a little choked up rememebring him. That was 9 years ago. I will never forget him but will always remember my good decision. Good luck and we are thinking of you.

Mar. 4, 2001, 12:38 PM
Elizabeth, PamM made some extremely good points. We all say, 'I'll NEVER sell.' or 'I'll care for him to the VERY END.' Yes, we owe our horses, all our pets actually, a good life and a dignified end. Do not cringe from putting him down because you think he DESERVES something else. What he deserves if for you to control his future and prevent a 'bad end.' If you put him down, it is over. He has lived a good life, you have provided him with excellent care and he dies. May we all be so lucky...

Mar. 4, 2001, 12:57 PM
Twister, thank you.
I haven't said anything since last night b/c I have been thinking this all over.
PamM and everyone else has raised good points.
I think I am going to e-mail Picturesque this afternoon for her aunt's number at Cornell.
All I keep thinking is if I bring him out to CA, and he gets off the truck in bad shape (which my vet predicts), and I cannot get him back to servicable, what will I have gained for him? And if I then just turn him out . . . . I forget to mention that he is a horse that is like a dog. He needs attention - he needs people.
I don't know, I'm still thinking.
Thanks, though, Twister and PamM, for giving support on the option of putting him down. If that is where I end up because that is the way I feel safest that he is not going to suffer, so be it.

Mar. 4, 2001, 03:33 PM
You have to do what you feel in your heart is the best thing for you and the animal. Just remember that horses aren't people...they live day to day and don't have glorious ambitions and dreams of someday achieving this or that. And if each day is miserable for them (or even not much of a "life"), then you have to remember that their reality is one day at a time. If you feel that ultimately his quality of life will suffer, then you have to do what you think you need to do. It would be great if we could all retire each and every horse we've owned, but it's just not possible for many people for financial reasons.

It's like this cat I have...he is so cool. But he got a fibrous sarcoma last August as the result of vaccinations. So I decided to have the vet remove the tumor, in hopes that he could live a while longer, but I opted to not have him go through the radiation treatment. I just can't pay that kind of money and put him through the torture of having the treatments (he HATES vets). And someday, the cancer will come back and I'll have to put him to sleep. But all he'll know is that he is uncomfortable (if the tumor comes back) and that he is no longer happy. It's not like he can think "I am going to go through all these treatments so that I can have an extended life of mouse-hunting."

So even though it is a horrible decision to have to make, just know that you are doing what you think is best for his quality of life (whatever your decision may be). And if his quality of life will not be good, then you have to do what you have to do. And it is not a decision that anyone can stand in judgement of...you know your horse and the situation, and no one else can really second guess your decision, IMO.

Mar. 4, 2001, 04:10 PM
I put my 11 year old quarter horse down just a couple of months ago. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life. I, too, investigated the vet school option but did decide against it because they could not take him for a month.

He was in pain most of the time and was becoming dangerous. He was always a biter while being fed-- I mean, take a hunk out of you, not a nipper. There is a threshold of pain when anyone rebels and he had reached that. He began to try to bite you when you went to get him out for his therapy. He was in pain, he was unhappy and, while I had offers to have him be a pasture horse he was always the low man, and I felt he was now dangerous. It made logical sense to put him down to end his misery and know for sure that he was not going to end up at the killers or that he would hurt anyone. That being said, it still was not easy. But, if there is a "rainbow bridge" I know he will be there waiting for me.

You need to try to do what is best for your horse, not what will make it easier on you. It would have been easier for me to give him away but I felt that was not the right thing to do. You are also going to come up against individuals who will not understand your decision if you opt to put him down. There are some people who will keep animals alive no matter what. That was the second hardest part to deal with, they make you feel like a murderer. I have since come to the conclusion that they are really cowards and unable to make the hard decisions - they let it "happen" naturally or they drag it out so long while the animal suffers from their lack of compassion for them.

Every case is individual. I wish you well and hope that you can come to the decision that is right for both of you what ever it is.

Mar. 4, 2001, 04:20 PM
Oh, mrs. /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif
I'm sorry. That's very sad.
But thank you for sharing. I am glad you and my other friends out here on the BB understand and are willing to share their stories to help me.

This is hard stuff we are dealing with. I had to put my dog to sleep, when she was 15. Up until the day I had to put her to sleep, I prayed that God would just take her, so that *I* didn't have to make the decision. It sucks. No two ways about it.

Mar. 5, 2001, 07:27 AM
Oh elizabeth, am so sorry, this is very hard. We tried to keep our old guy going. Did Palesin and Arquel every 6 mo. It did help with both the ring bone & navicular. He would be slightly off, but enjoyed life. He made the decision for us one day. He too ran when out, played so very hard. Rotated his coffin bone thru the sole. He was in retirement, and had a stall. Like you we could not let someone, hopefully give him the correct care. Guess what I am trying to say is that retirement can be in many forms. If you are able to oversee it, and have the final say, it is a good option. No matter what your decision, everyone here understands.... /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

Mar. 5, 2001, 07:31 AM
these difficult decisions. Because you care about Buster, you will make the right decision.

I had to make "the decision" for two horses and two cats within the past few years. It isn't easy, but I feel that I did make the right decisions - the best ones I could, and I feel at peace. You will, too.

Mar. 5, 2001, 08:13 AM
You might consider donating him to a therapuetic riding program and paying for his shoeing yourself. You could retain control over his shoeing, and I am sure that the program would be happy to have someone else pay the expense.

Shoeing is the least of the monthly expense of keeping a horse (although beware, here in NorCal I pay $175 for shoes -- although others at my barn pay between 125-150 for basic shoeing).

Mar. 5, 2001, 08:18 AM
While it is commendable that you want to do your best by this guy... you are being unrealistic. It seems to me that no matter WHAT you do with him, you want to retain final say so and knowledge of what he is doing. That just isn't so! Once you relinquish control, you essentially have NO control over what gets done to him. Sad to think about in many cases, but it's the truth. THAT is what you have to deal with. Can you give him away or sell him AND deal with the fact that you have no say in what becomes of him? Once you answer that question your choice on his future becomes rather easy. If you can deal with the knowledge that his control/fate is in the hands of another and you have nothing more to do with him, then you are free to pursue Cornell, or Auburn, or whatever. If you cannot, then you must, for the sake of wasted energy, dismiss those as alternatives and decided what YOU can do (which is either, find a good home for him via a friend or whatever where you are essentially boarding him regardless of his/your physical location).

Good luck whatever you decide. I'm not envious of your position at all. I have a 15yo mare that I can't stand the thought of what will happen when she has to be retired.

Mar. 5, 2001, 08:29 AM
elizabeth: I guess I'm not understanding clearly how sound/unsound your horse is. That's one of the problems with communicating via cyberspace: you cannot hear the intonations in someone's voice, or ask for an immediate clarification.

Horses are very much like people in dealing with pain. I, for example, had colon surgery ten days before the year-end championship show, and though I could barely walk, I snuck out to the barn and rode, just to see if I could stay in the saddle without passing out long enough to make it around a hunter course. My husband, on the other hand, gets a headache and you'd think he had a brain tumor.

Some horses do remarkably well with low grade chronic pain, especially if it can be controlled with low doses of bute. Only you and those who know your horse can see the signs that tell you your horse is suffering: listlessness, lack of appetite, obviously lifting weight off his sore foot/feet while standing, lying down a lot to keep the weight off his feet, a change in attitude, etc. With Beezer's two old show horses, I had to be the one to tell her, "It's time." One would have paralyzing back spasms so bad that I'd have to run out with an IV shot of Banamine to get it under control. The other one finally got to where it spent hours lying down to relieve pain in his joints (and that WAS on 4 tabs of bute a day). It was no longer possible for them to just amble around being lawn ornaments.

It's obvious you're really deliberating over this, but I'll bet in your heart of hearts you already know the best decision.

Mar. 5, 2001, 09:06 AM
If bute is used right it can help horses for years.
We have kept horses on bute for years, with no problems. The trick is bute for 4 days off for 3 days, and 3 to 4 grams once a day. NOT 1 or 2 grams split up.
They get no ulcers this way.
Nerving, in my opinion is fine. Find someone that does a lot of them. It is a simple and easy procedure, if the right Vet does it. Standing up is the way ours are done. it is about a 45 min surgery.
The only thing to be careful of, are abcesses in the feet. Keep off rocky ground. We have had horses jump, hunt,race, till they were in their 20's that have been nerved.

L Scott
Mar. 5, 2001, 10:03 AM
I just wanted to add, through edit, that if you decided to go the donation route, this was my experience. If he is sound or capable of being comfortable, perhaps retaining control through a disabled program or lesson program would be better for him.

I had an old A circuit show pony that was in his early thirties. He was out babysitting the youngsters(his favourite job) and came in one day with what turned out to be edema around his girth area. The vet took a look and kept an eye on it. He didn't seem upset or uncomfortable, so we left things as they were and the vet checked him periodically. He slowly started to loose weight and it became evident that he was starting to fail.

Our vet suggested we donate him to the University of Guelph Equine program. He said they rarely get to study the (failing) heart of a living horse. With assurances that I could visit all day every day if I wanted, I consented. It was understood that as long as he was eating, comfortable and in no pain, we would continue. He was there for seven days. In that time he was spoiled and loved by all and especially by the daughter of the vet handling him. He was noticeably very content and happy. On the seventh day he failed and was euthanized immediatly. They asked my permission to do so before I could get there so that he would not suffer.

It was a good ending and fine experience for a fabulous pony.

I have no regrets.

On another note, I think I have recounted my other experience with UofG which I thought they handled beautifully as well. My sisters hunter corked himself playing in the paddock one day. Nothing unusual about it. It was cleaned and attended to.

Ten days after corking himself, he was humanely destroyed at Guelph, suffering from Necrotizing Faceitis(flesh eating disease). His immune system shut down and the outlook for survival and being able to walk was estimated to be miraculous if he survived another 24 hours. He would never trot or canter again, assuming he could walk. He would have had to have had skin graphs. In short, he would not have been able to live the life of a horse, even a lame one, and would essentially have been three legged. All this is before financial considerations.

UofG was again, absolutely fantastic. The care was second to none. We were called constantly with updates and told up front what needed to be done and why, in language we could understand. He was handled constantly by the same people which calmed him down considerably.

I have the utmost respect for this facility.

[This message was edited by LCR Scott on Mar. 05, 2001 at 01:33 PM.]

Mar. 5, 2001, 10:31 AM
Elizabeth-when I first read (in another post of yours), that you were considering putting an 11 year old horse down, I thought" Jeez, what a spoiled unfeeling jerk." You didn't indicate that Buster had navicular and I jumped to the conclusion that you were simply callous and uncaring. I mention this as a reminder to all how easy it is to misinterpret comments in the cyber world.

That said, my philosophy has always been that it is the quality not quantity of the life that counts.

Mar. 5, 2001, 11:11 AM
Elizabeth- I am so sorry for your delima. What a difficult decision to make. I gave my 17yr TB away early last year. They promised me the world about his care. My trainer, at the time, knew the aunt of this person and said he would have a good home. About 3 months later I happened to be in the neighborhood so I stopped by. I had never seen my horse in such 'bad' condition. No longer bright eyed. Manure caked all over him and was DEAD lame. Needless to say they called me about 3 days later and gave him back. He is now at a nice barn with someone that takes great care of him. So there are two sides of the coin.

But, if you decide to move Buster out to So. Cal, the place I used to board my other horse is decent - NOT a show barn and CHEAP!! It is in the hills of Lake View Terrace (near Hansen Dam Equestrian Center) They feed decent alfalfa and oat. You can have a choice of a 12X12 box, 12X24 breezway barn (pipes), and across the street or up above they have a lot of different wierd sizes...like 12x40 pipes, 24X36 etc. The barn manager is ok. However, they have two nice women that run their own english and western pleasure school. They teach the basics, W-T-C and X rails. One of my friends still boards there and if you put Buster in the 12X24 breezeway, there is a lot of people traffic and everyone says hi to all the horses and gives them carrots. It is a real homey barn. Who knows, maybe the women that run the school may have use for something like Buster and maybe eventually be able to free lease him to a student.

There is also a nice pasture, I think it is like 300 acres on the north side in Chatsworth. I think the cost is reasonable, but I don't know much about how the place is run.

There is also a retirement home in Tujunga Canyon, Sun Valley where your horse is turned out with a small band of horses during the day. Then called back to their stalls for dinner and blanketing, etc at night.

If you are interested in any of the above, you can e-mail me and I'll pass on the names and phone numbers.

Good luck on your decision!

Mar. 5, 2001, 06:15 PM
It will be difficult. Should you go the route of adopting out, there are so many wonderful places that are realistic about the potential for a comfortable life for your animal. Do the best thing for your horse and do the research, make your decision and try to not have second guesses work you over.

Look into the many equine rescue and adoption agencies available. Most (especially the reputable ones) will be brutally frank with you about what is right and wrong in your horses situation.

Steer clear of the agencies that put a prominent price tag on their adoption animals. The most sincere rescue organizations will save any horse without putting cost first but only if the animal will have a happy and comfortable life. That is why they try so hard to solicite funding for their operations and limit the number of horses they are responsible for.

In doubt, ask your vet or your state's veterinary licensing authority for a list of rescue or adoption agencies. They will know which ones are shady.

http://www.equinenet.org/ has many links to equine rescue sites but don't limit yourself to places that have internet access. Steer clear of places that are obviously reselling the horse, with the "adoption fee" listed. It takes a load of money to operate a rescue organization. Reputable ones spread that cost out evenly and don't charge varying fees per horse. They will be far more concerned with how well the adoptive party is able to provide, not how much they can get for the horse.

In The Gate
May. 26, 2001, 08:54 PM
I don't know what you've done with the horse, as this post is really old- but let us know. Why don't you give him to someone on a free lease, where you retain ownership of the horse? That way, if anything goes wrong you could send him to Cornell /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif although it should be a last resort. They could pay for everything, yet not own the horse so if he ever got into a situation that you were unhappy with you could go to another option. Good luck...

Valerie's home page (http://www.geocities.com/vwiles02)

May. 26, 2001, 09:34 PM
Actually, they were able to get Buster sound, and he is now living outside of Los Angeles, in Moorpark! Elizabeth had him flown here on Thursday, and my trainer picked him up from the airport. I haven't gotten to meet either of them yet...I'll at least get to meet Buster tomorrow when I bring my horse home from the show! /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

May. 26, 2001, 09:36 PM
How cool is that!!!! Go Buster!!! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

In The Gate
May. 26, 2001, 09:36 PM
That's great! I'm so glad he didn't wind up at Cornell. Good luck, and have fun.

Valerie's home page (http://www.geocities.com/vwiles02)

May. 26, 2001, 09:47 PM
I saw this thread iin March but was mostly lurking then, and had no significant contribution. I was so sad to read it. Sice them I have "met" Elizabeth here on the board and found that her horse was right here in my area. I am SO happy that he's doing well and Elizabeth's post about air transit was about Buster. Its nice to hear of a happy ending.

May. 27, 2001, 06:41 AM
Theraputic riding centers: I have ridden with these. A high maintenance horse is not what most are looking for, since they survive off of donations. Double check with the center you are looking at.

Elizabeth, if you are serious about having to give your horse up, please email me.
We are still looking for a trail horse for my husband to ride on. We would be happy with a free lease should the situation work out. I can let you know more details if you have any interest. Lori

May. 27, 2001, 09:23 AM
I'm so glad that this situation worked out for the best! As a certified therapeutic riding instructor, and NARHA Region Chair, I feel like I have to comment on the donating horses issues. It seems that every time something comes up about a lame horse, lots of suggestions appear to donate to a therapeutic riding program. Believe me, we're very grateful to be thought of, but in most cases, horses with serious lameness problems are not useful in a therapeutic riding program. Imagine teaching up-downers on a lame horse. Okay, now imagine that your up-downer has serious balance issues-he/she can't tell if they're leaning 45 degrees to one side. Or they have very low muscle tone, and it's very hard for them to stand up in their stirrups even in an even rhythm. It's very hard to deal with a lame horse in a therapy situation. Yes, there are programs that have a use for a "walk-only" horse, but they are few and far between. More typical is the program with 1-3 walk-only students. Not nearly enough to justify a separate horse for them. Many programs are supporting at least 3-4 horses, often paying board along with other horse expenses. All on donations. Believe me, it's not easy to come up with the money for lots of "extra care," such as therapeutic shoeing, medications, or excessive vet work. I don't want to make it sound like our horses are not well cared for; in most programs they are, and it can be a fantastic retirement home for a horse. But the program is really there to serve the riders, not the horses, and the horses really need to have some level of soundness to be an asset to the program. I don't want to discourage people from calling riding centers about donating their horse, but please try to understand where we're coming from, too.

May. 27, 2001, 10:05 AM
Wow, I just read this thread from the beginning without looking at the dates of the messages. I didn't realize it was an old thread! Thought it was a brand new one that had gotten a lot of posts right away LOL.

AAjumper's message gave me goosebumps! I am SO happy to hear that Buster is now in CA with Elizabeth! /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif What a great turn this story took!!!

Lara - Thank you for posting your message about donating horses to therapeutic programs. It's very helpful. I for one wasn't aware of how important it is that the horses used in the programs travel evenly. It makes perfect sense.

May. 27, 2001, 03:13 PM
I so, so, so meant to post the good news as soon as it happened. And by the "good news," I mean Buster is here, Buster is here. Thank you everyone for your good wishes. I could not BE any happier!!

Just to bring everyone up to speed, after I posted this thread in March and got everyone's views, I decided to give Buster to Cornell. I just couldn't stand the thought of sending Buster to meet a fate that I could not control. Better he have an ending I could control. So I called Cornell and told them to expect Buster in May or in September.

Then I spoke with Jumphigh83, my trainer, who was in Ocala, and she said "whatever you want to do, elizabeth, I will back you up. but give me some time with him - I can make him sound when I get back from Florida."

I agreed, and jumphigh83 got back from Florida in the middle of March, and she took control of the situation. She put Buster on a regimen of Bute (four, then three, then two, then one per day, then alternating days), she watched his turn-out, and she made sure he was ridden - either just walking or w-t or later w-t-c. ( Mind you, she did not charge me a dime more than normal for all this! ) She told me little bits and pieces of the plan as it progressed, but she kept me just enough in the dark so that I didn't obsess or worry. Whenever we spoke, she was positive.

Within three weeks of jumphigh83 taking control, Buster was w-t-c sound, within five weeks he was basically sound (though "ehhh" in the corners), and within six weeks he was almost 100%.

At that point, all notions of giving Buster away left me. I couldn't do that to a sound horse. I decided to keep him - even though he was on the east coast - he was sound, and he was happy. Paying board and bills for a horse that was 3,000 miles away was a small price to pay for the relief of having a sound, ALIVE horse.

Unfortunately, in late April, the little girl who was riding Buster 2 days a week fractured a vertebra while riding her horse so she had to stop riding Buster. Then, two weeks ago, the other girl who was riding him three days a week sent me an e-mail saying "Buster is too much for me, now that I am the only one riding him."

Though I normally would have FREAKED out with that news (since I was in CA and had no clue how to otherwise get Buster taken care of), I actually saw the e-mail as a blessing. My new boyfriend had been asking me DAILY for the past four weeks why my horse was on the east coast and I was on the west coast, and I had been making excuses. ( "We'll bring him out after the summer, when it is cooler" or "I might move back east" or "Jumphigh83 is the only trainer who has the patience to deal with Buster's soundness issues." ) Now that I no longer had a rider for him, it was like a message from God that now was the time to bring him out.

I still, however, was hedging my bets: Would I be able to find a shipper? The truck trip took 6 days. . . etc., etc. The flight brokers were so unpredictable since they could only do a load with three horses. . . . And was Buster truly sound enough to do the 6 day truck trip?? How was I going to get Buster's trunks packed? Maybe we should wait until Thanksgiving, when I went home and could pack him.

David (the new boyfriend) quickly took control, saying "Elizabeth, call a flight broker, and get this horse out here that way. You are not putting that horse on a truck for six days." I tried to explain to him that flights were hard to get this time of year, but he refused to shut up until I called a flight broker (Alex Nichols). The surprise? The very day after I called the broker, they called back to say Buster could go seven days later.

In response to my next fear that we'd never get all Buster's stuff shipped out here, David said "ask someone to pack his stuff. If they forget to ship something, we'll buy new stuff out here." In response to my fear that I would never be able to get Buster to Newark cheaply, David said "what's another $400? Suck it up."

From there, the pieces fell right into place: AAJumper's trainer had a spot open in her barn (the biggest stall in the barn with an attached pen (good for Buster's arthritic bones)), Jumphigh83 totally took charge of getting Buster to Newark (even though she was in the middle of an AWAY(!!) show), AAJumper's trainer totally took care of getting Buster from LAX to the farm (even though she was in the middle of a show!), and my parents drove to the barn to pack all of my stuff (even though they have no clue what to pack for a horse). It was perfect - every single worry ( "how do I get him to the airport," "how do I get him home," "how do I get him packed???" ) totally took care of itself. Not to get overly religious, but it is clear that this move was directed by a force other than me. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Fast forward to last Thursday: I got a cell phone call from AAJumper's trainer saying she had gotten the precious cargo (BUSTER!) at LAX, and she was on the way home. I took Friday off and went to see Buster. He is there, he is happy, and I am thrilled.

And having gone through this past winter of lameness, the good news is that I now have insight: Every time I have brought Buster to a new barn, he comes up lame. I have never understood it, and I have always freaked out. Having seen what he did in the winter, though, I totally understand now - Buster ran like an idiot on Friday and Saturday in the turn-out pen, because he was in a new exciting place. Given that that is how he made himself DEAD LAME this past winter (which is what started this thread back in March), I was prepared for him to be lame, and I was Zen about it.

He has been on 4 grams of Bute for Thurs., Fri., and Sat., and he is getting his legs wrapped at night. I have made my peace with the fact that he might be lame for the next seven days. I am totally prepared to be calm and to explain to AAJumper's trainer (my new trainer) that this is how Buster operates, and he might be lame for a week, and we might want to inject his hocks in a week or two, when he stops being lame and is ready to begin work.

(I say "when he stops being lame," but he actually is not lame. He was a bit gimpy yesterday, but we found out that he has not been EATING his Bute b/c he doesn't like the feed that the Bute is mixed with. So, given the running he did the first two days he was here, he, by rights, should be DEAD LAME, and he is only mildly gimpy (thank God, knock on wood, etc.))

I realize this is long and rambling, but I wanted to share with all of you the good news. You all were so good to me when I struggled to figure out what to do, back in March. Who would have thought things would work out like this? Granted, Buster might be lame when he comes off Bute in a couple days, but now I know that no matter how lame he is, with a program and patience, it is very likely fixable.

Thank you all for your support. Without this network on the BB, I would have been lost in March. LOST. And, without Jumphigh83 and AAJumper, this story would have had a very different ending. Many thanks to all of you for the support, both back in March and now. I am so lucky to have all of you. /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

May. 27, 2001, 04:48 PM
Elizabeth, I am so happy to hear about your happy ending. What a wonderful thing for all involved. Buster is a very lucky horse and I sure do hope that you and he have many happy years together. The people here on the forum are wonderful, aren't they? They always know what words to say and they stick with you, all the way through a crisis. Thank goodness too, for those closest to you during all this, Jumphigh, your parents, your fiance, you needed that complete suppore, without a single weak link.

You, Ms. Elizabeth are a very lucky lady!!!

May. 27, 2001, 05:09 PM
If he is in a lot of pain, I would donate him to the University. I'm sorry if you have to, and make sure you give him a hug and a kiss from me /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif !

~*Megan Black*~ /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

May. 27, 2001, 05:55 PM
elizabeth> I am sooo glad to hear that! It is a wonderful end to a tough situation, and I am really glad that things worked out for both of you! Give him a hug and a kiss from me! /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

May. 27, 2001, 06:08 PM
Elizabeth-donate him to a farrier school. See if you can find one on the west cost, and ask them not to put him for sale, if they want to get rids of him, to give YOU a call. This way he will frequently be shoed, and let out, and you won't have to worry about his feet.

*Callin me mam' is like puttin' an elevator in an outhouse....it just don't belong.

May. 27, 2001, 06:16 PM
woops didn't read the good news! CONgrats! so are you riding him now?

*Callin me mam' is like puttin' an elevator in an outhouse....it just don't belong.

May. 27, 2001, 07:28 PM
Thanks everyone!
As to riding him, I will begin doing so hopefully in a week, depending on how quickly he gets "un-sore" from the trip and from running around in the new, exciting turn-outs at the new, exciting barn!

May. 28, 2001, 06:38 AM
Such a pick me up on a dreary holiday weekend....I think I must go out and hug a horse in a minute.

This happy ending also shows the importance of all the people that make the world of horses complete. The vast majority of horsepeople I know are kind and helpful to human and beast alike....and are as important a part of the experience of horse ownership as the horses themselves.

May. 28, 2001, 03:15 PM
Elizabeth-I am so happy for you and Buster. It's really nice to hear something that could have been so gutwrenching, have a positive outcome. Good luck to the two of you in the future.


PS-Sounds like you need to hang on to your boyfriend...He sounds really considerate of you!

May. 28, 2001, 06:51 PM
I am also thrilled that Buster was able to be made sound! There is nothing as horrible as having to decide how uncomfortable a horse really is when they aren't sound. I still wonder if there was more I could have done for my old mare rather than putting her down...but that was in the days before Adequan and Legend and other things.

Fortunately, we have an excellent veterinarian that we use at our barn, and he is known for being an expert at soundness issues. And our trainer is really good at keeping horses maintained, so I'm sure Buster will be very well taken care of! /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif