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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar. 4, 2007
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
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    894

    Default When do you know it is time to put down a young horse? Update page 4

    So my horse has not been doing well, here is basically everything that has happened that has lead us up to this point.

    I bought my now nine year old trakehner when he was 7, we began showing and winning and doing really well together he was headed to be my new High Jr jumper, unfortunately he coliced many times, we ended up taking him to universities to discover the cause of that and the chronic diareahha that he had and they only were able to say the the cause was undetermined for both circumstances. So the next year comes around he is 8 he manages to twist a hock as the vet put it, so we put him off for a few months, next he managed to as the vet put it "cause inflammation in the joints due to the fall he had", aka he has arthritis, so the vet put him on injections to get rid of the inflammation... little did we know he meant arthritis which we know you cannot get rid of. So any ways horse gets turned out in a large paddock one day with out our knowledge after being off for months and he tears a suspensory tendon...yay. So we decide to send the horse of to be rested until he is better at a rehab barn. 6 months later we recheck the tendon and it is good as gold! by this point it is January of 2009. So when the vet x-rayed him she said his arthritis had developed so rapidly that he will never be more then a pasture and trail horse. Okay well that was a bit of a shock but we realised that it was for his best and plus my dad could still use him as a trail horse. In may he began dropping a tonne of weight, like really really ridiculous amounts of weight, so we tried stalling him, getting supplements putting him in an outdoor stall everything and nothing worked, until we tried finishing touch, in a few weeks he has put on hundreds of pounds literally. Now the vet e-mails us saying he is not even pasture sound at this point, and we seriously need to consider the quality of life that we want to give him due to the arthritis and his weight conditions, as well as him now being anemic, having an increase in lymphocytes and a few other blood conditions.

    I don't know I really don't want to have to put him down, but I never want him to suffer, I just don't really see him being in pain, however I only go up once every few weeks. The BO says some days he is good and other days he isn't, I really don't want to have to put him down, he is such an amazing horse, that I feel like I am wasting his life by putting him down at 9 years old. I had never seen this horse step lame until this summer when he was in the paddock, he had such a big heart, he never should pain.

    And now I am not sue even more so since he just apparently jumped the fenced to his small paddock and into another larger one.

    So how do you decide when it is time? I am young and I understand that I don't want to keep him alive for my self, I want what is best for him, but right now I really don't know.

    This is him while he was competing he never understood the concept of jumping the actual height of the jump never knocked a rail down in his life
    http://i355.photobucket.com/albums/r...35527_9587.jpg
    http://i355.photobucket.com/albums/r...91717_7680.jpg

    This is him before he lost the weight
    http://photos-d.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-...43_2932124.jpg

    This is him before he gained the weight back
    http://i355.photobucket.com/albums/r...y/DSC_0340.jpg

    This is him after the weight gain recently (his butt still needs to gain it all back)
    http://i355.photobucket.com/albums/r...y/DSC_0032.jpg

    I just don't want to regret my decision in the end
    Last edited by sansibar; Dec. 7, 2009 at 02:00 PM.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 12, 2007
    Location
    CT
    Posts
    6,156

    Default

    It sounds like you may be seeing a different horse if you only happen to see him on his good days. Ask the BM to call you the next time he has a bad day and go see him- even if it means taking off work early or something. In order to decide whether the vets recommendation is worth considering, you need to see for yourself what he is like on his worst day. You already know what he is like on his good days.

    If his bad days seems bad when you see it in person, get a second opinion from a vet you trust- or get a referral to a university hospital. It is worth the peace of mind to hear it from another person- and you never know if they will think of drug you haven't tried or something else that might get him a few more good years.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr. 14, 2001
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    18,079

    Default

    My personal "stop" point is when the horse is in pain that is not manageable or when there is no hope of recovery or improvement.

    I also think that there is no such thing as too early....but it is very, very easy to wait too long.

    Horses are also tricky because they have EVOLVED to hide any indication of pain or lameness or weakness.

    No animal should have to suffer. The kindest thing we can ever do is to end their suffering or to let them go before they begin to suffer.

    Given your account of things, my personal decision would have been to put him down some time ago.

    I'm sorry



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul. 30, 2005
    Location
    England
    Posts
    10,731

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Simkie View Post
    My personal "stop" point is when the horse is in pain that is not manageable or when there is no hope of recovery or improvement.

    I also think that there is no such thing as too early....but it is very, very easy to wait too long.

    Horses are also tricky because they have EVOLVED to hide any indication of pain or lameness or weakness.

    No animal should have to suffer. The kindest thing we can ever do is to end their suffering or to let them go before they begin to suffer.

    Given your account of things, my personal decision would have been to put him down some time ago.

    I'm sorry
    I have to agree with this. I'm sorry- letting one go is never easy, and it's twice as hard when they're still young.
    Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 5, 2006
    Posts
    5,049

    Default

    Animals will lose weight when they are in pain....the weight loss may be in coorelation with his arthritis.

    I would get a second opinion just to be sure (for myself), but if a second vet agreed with what you have been told, I would make that horrible decision (and it's not one that I take lightly...but in this case, it may be the right decision)

    Hugs to you.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct. 23, 2001
    Location
    North Central Texas
    Posts
    414

    Default Age has nothing to do with it

    From a practical point of view:
    1. Can the horse fulfill the purpose for which it was purchased?
    2. Is the horse in chronic pain? Can the pain be managed?
    3. How long can you afford to pay vet bills, board bills, etc. towards a horse no one can ride?

    From an emotional point of view:
    1. The horse is your friend.

    From either of these points of view:
    You have to decide the solution that is best for the horse.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    May. 3, 2006
    Posts
    11,568

    Default

    I'd be inclined to suggest you get your worm management checked and also consider worm damage or ulcers.

    Has he been scoped?



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec. 12, 2005
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC
    Posts
    3,122

    Default

    I'm with Thomas... it's sounds like there is far more going on with your horse than you have chipped at the surface.
    If i'm posting on Coth, it's either raining so I can't ride or it's night time and I can't sleep.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2004
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    3,192

    Default

    I'd get him seen by someone else. From what you've said, your vet sounds less than 100% trustworthy at this point...

    If you want a clear cut answer, put him on a trailer and take him to a university. Have them do a full exam and give their opinion on his quality of life.

    Is he on anything for his joints? adequan, legend? bute? There's no cure for arthritis, but it can be a manageable condition in most cases. The weight loss could have been ulcers definitely or maybe a virus.

    If he were mine, I'd do a little more digging first. I'd get a second opinion.

    If his arthritis can't be managed, I'd let him go before winter.
    Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug. 15, 2008
    Posts
    4,596

    Default

    Wow. That's a huge change in weight there.

    I'm sorry you are going through this with him.

    As Thomas said, I think looking at your worming program and trying to do what you can there is probably the cheapest and most likely culprit.

    Gosh. After that I'd be inclined to call in a vet who's specialty is endocrine, immune, and digestive systems.

    Soundess sounds like it's secondary at this point. But something sure is going on with him with the weight thing. Finding out what sounds like it could be hard and expensive.

    Not to sound crass, but you need to figure out your bottom line of what you are willing to put into this horse, trying to take out the emotional as much as you can. (So very hard, I know!)

    Not everyone has the same bottom line. Some might be able to go the distance to find and try to treat what it is. Some might find and then decide they can't afford treatment and make their decision from there; either not treat and make the hard decision or find a home who is willing to treat.

    Just don't be the person who lets him sit and makes no decision, hoping it will get better on it's own. That's the one very unfair thing you could do for this horse.

    Good luck with this. I'm interested in reading other responses. Especially Ghazzu and other great vets who post to this board.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar. 3, 2008
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    75

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas_1 View Post
    I'd be inclined to suggest you get your worm management checked and also consider worm damage or ulcers.

    Has he been scoped?

    Encysted strongyles can cause anemia.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug. 3, 2009
    Posts
    902

    Default

    I think he is trying to heal, may not be perfect to everyone's "value" system, but if it is acceptable to you, then give him the time.... He sounds and looks like he is making progress. He is a beautiful horse. Also, remember to Think positive and it would be helpful if the people around you and the horse also thought positive. If everyone is thinking these negative thoughts, your horse will pick up on them ... and could react accordingly from fear...

    Hang in there..... I support your efforts and what ever decision you decide. Until one walks in the shoes of another, no one should even think about judging your decisions. Take care....



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun. 16, 2009
    Posts
    87

    Default

    I'd like to add that there are things you can do with your horse besides ride him, if it turns out he is not suffering and his issues can be fixed.

    One of my mares is quite arthritic & has been retired from riding. Since I stopped riding her, I've been working on doing some clicker/trick training with her. Obviously, what I'm going to do with her depends on her ability to do what I'm asking, so I don't do anything that's very demanding on her. But we have fun together.

    However, if he is in pain that cannot be alleviated or his weight issues cannot be solved, then the kindest thing to do would be to put him down.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug. 5, 2009
    Location
    Penn Valley CA
    Posts
    633

    Default

    I'll put my human side into the mix - I have severe RA in my hips and literally my entire body. Yes, I have pain but only on rare instances do I take more than an aleeve. With arthritis, idle is worst than moving, I'm on the go daily but have chairs all over my property wheneven I need to rest my joints. Yes, he will have his good days and his bad days; same with me. I know it is different with a 1,000 lbs on his joints but if he is still active give him a chance. I've found pure yucca has helped my RA, I can tell the difference when I miss my dose. A soft surface really helps too, if I walk on a hard surface very long my joints do hurt. One question does he lay down a lot? If not, I would say he can stand any discomfort he is experiencing. When I walk I have the gait of a person with MS, can you tell if he has an unusual movement in his hips, legs, etc?



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct. 6, 2005
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    1,712

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gracie View Post
    From a practical point of view:

    3. How long can you afford to pay vet bills, board bills, etc. towards a horse no one can ride?
    I've always wondered how a horse no one can ride is more expensive than a horse that can be ridden. As soon as they are unrideable does the BO increase the board?



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec. 28, 2008
    Posts
    1,418

    Default

    Your vet e-mailed you with such a horrible diagnosis/decision?! Are you kidding? The decision an owner has to make to put a horse down should be discussed over the phone at least if not in person. You don't just shoot off an animal saying 'hey, I think you should euth your horse.-xxxx xxxxx, DVM.'

    I think you should get a second opinion from a different vet personally. Preferably a vet whos ground breaking diagnosis isn't a 'twisted hock' and can't even convey the simple diagnosis of arthritis in a clear manner.

    I don't know. Your vet may be amazing but he sure sounds like an idiot from your description and it wouldn't shock me to find out he overlooked a very simple cause like one of the issues listed above.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun. 6, 2000
    Location
    Amherst, MA
    Posts
    5,450

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    I think you've gotten some great responses. In your position, I would get an outside vet's opinion.

    I'd also look very hard at the facility where you're keeping the horse, because to me that horse looks wormy. But that's something you can ask the new vet about as well.

    I think I'd put off the euthanasia question until I had some answers on the basic health of the horse and possibilities for rehabbing and having a useful trail horse for your father.

    Arthritis is very manageable, particularly if the horse is basically going to be used as a pleasure horse.

    Also, as you note, he's still a pretty young horse; I wouldn't be quick to write off his ability to heal.

    Good luck.
    "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar. 4, 2007
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    894

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by WorthTheWait95 View Post
    Your vet e-mailed you with such a horrible diagnosis/decision?! Are you kidding? The decision an owner has to make to put a horse down should be discussed over the phone at least if not in person. You don't just shoot off an animal saying 'hey, I think you should euth your horse.-xxxx xxxxx, DVM.'

    I think you should get a second opinion from a different vet personally. Preferably a vet whos ground breaking diagnosis isn't a 'twisted hock' and can't even convey the simple diagnosis of arthritis in a clear manner.

    I don't know. Your vet may be amazing but he sure sounds like an idiot from your description and it wouldn't shock me to find out he overlooked a very simple cause like one of the issues listed above.
    Ya we switched from the twisted hock vet lol, the other vet usually does call us but she had e-mailed the blood tests, and put her opinion out there, which we pretty much already knew was going to come in at some point.

    The horse is wormed very often, even for tapes. I think somewhere some one mentioned in one of his many university trips that he could have had worm damage, as apparently we were told he was put out to pasture for a year or two and was skin and bones. But I do not think that the university actually stated this. All that was stated when he was scoped and tested for many many many many different things was the cause for this colic and diareahha is undetermined, exploratory surgery is your next option, the only thing we can tell you is he does not have ulcers (even though many people were willing to bet money that he did! The old vet even had us do an ulcer treatment). In regards to him looking wormy, he is very odd, he will always gain weight down first and then every where else, another time when he was not being fed enough at an old barn he did the same thing when he gained weight again, I always thought he looked wormy in a sense when he goes through that stage, but i have been there when he is wormed (and he is wormed more now then he was when he was a show horse)

    Our thoughts were that the weight loss was co-related to the pain, especially when he wasn't putting any back on, it was so hard to see him in that way. We did have him on bute for a little however with his stomach issues we were afraid to over use it and cause stomach ulcers, when he went on adequan he had an allergic reaction which was one of the worst things we had to deal with for him. The new vet is reluctant to give him cortisone as she does not want him to cause more damage to the joints because he feels too good. We have him on glucosamine injections, and he is on Recovery Eq and msm.

    We at this point do not care if we can ever ride him again, or if he is stuck in a pasture for the rest of his life, we just as everyone says do not want to wait too long and allow him to suffer.

    He has also been tested for lyme which did come back negative. If that means anything to any one.

    The vet said our next option would be to take him to a university however she said that she is not sure what else they could really do, especially in regards to the arthritis, and since the last thing the vets said to us at the university is exploratory surgery, and I do not think I am willing to put him through that.

    I never saw him lying down much at all, the BO tells me when he does because she worries for the colic, and she says he doesn't lie down all that much.

    We are definitely thinking about this and considering all options, we knew without the weight there was no way it would be right to keep him through the winter. But now he seems to have calmed down, a little from his mood change, and I see improvement in his weight, and just simply him in general. I do not know though, I really need to go up and spend a week there and make my decision that way I guess.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun. 7, 2008
    Location
    now in KCMO, and plan to stay there
    Posts
    3,196

    Default

    If he does indeed have arthritis (did Vet ever tell you exactly which joints are affected!?), then you want the horse to be slightly underweight, never overweight. That is because excess weight worsens the load on joints, literally. I hope you will get another Vet's opinion, or consider moving the horse to someplace where it is easier for you to check on him more often. Good luck, and as others have said, keep us posted!
    Jeanie
    RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun. 4, 2006
    Posts
    2,528

    Default

    With the colic and weight loss is there any chance he has colitis? Have you tried gastroguard to see if he improves.

    Went through a two year lameness myself. Basically two years rest and rehabilitation for collateral ligament desmitis my gelding makes it two an intermittent 1/5 basically occasional shorter step. He then regressed, diagnosed with mild ringbone the collateral ligament is still the suspected problem. After joint injections and IRAP with extended rest failed we decided to arthrodese his pastern joint. We are really hoping he will be sound in a year!

    I think it depends on how much you can realistically spend to "try" and make him comfortable and if it is achievable.

    If he were my horse based on what you have said, I would do a panacur powerpack. I may try a no sugar no grain balanced high fat diet with alfalfa, a cup a day of ground flax will help coat the stomach and has antiflammatory effect. I would try daily gastroguard and field bord with at least 12 hours a day field turnout but 24/7 may be ideal, make sure you have an excellent farrier. I would inject his arthritic joints with either steroid HA, IRAP, or tildren. Keep him blanketed, give him monthly adequan, put him on conequin ASU loading dose or MSU, do a course of equioxx and see if he improves with field time.

    If the quality of life is lost then the kindest thing you can do is let him go. I would probablly give the horse a year of of as much turnout of possible, with a much maintenance as you can afford

    Best Wishes, I am so sorry!
    Last edited by Fharoah; Sep. 24, 2009 at 11:57 AM.



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