How "lame" is too lame? Or, define your grey area.
In all these threads about drugging, "band-aiding" etc.... the only thing we have truly established is that everyone seems to have different ideas about where the line is drawn. And that, apparently, there does exist a vet in Vermont who won't inject joints.
So, for you, how "lame" is too lame to ride/ show? If your horse is gimpy without a bute but dreamy with one, do you give it a bute and show? Do you inject hocks and stifles and go for it, or retire Dobbin?
Where is YOUR line drawn?
When the boogeyman goes to sleep, he checks the closet for George Morris. -mpsbarnmanager
I had an older pony, who got a little stiff every once in a while. We gave her a little bute a few days before a show (2'-2'6 level) and went ahead. I think she got her hocks done 1-2 times, but never right before a show.
If the horse is a little stiff/sore after a hard workout and bute helps then it is no big deal so long as it is a one time thing- not a situation where you depend on it for an extended period. If the horse continued to be sore for more than one day I would give a few days off, reevaluate and call the vet for a lameness exam.
If I had a horse that was in its prime (10-15ish), doing its job well but could benefit from hock injections, then that would be fine. I personally draw the line at injecting once a year. If it needed it more often then I would reevaluate and probably move it down a level or two to where it was more comfortable.
For me, anytime I have a horse that seems stiff or sore I try to determine why exactly the horse is feeling like that and act accordingly. I think the key is that we need to be honest in our assessments. I am not against using meds appropriately but if the problem is that the horse is overworked then the real solution would be to reduce the stress we are putting on their body.
Well you don't have my "grey areas" so I chose the 3rd opinion, but to clarify:
I WILL inject joints when needed
I WILL give legend/adequan before a show
I WILL give regumate for a cranky mare (if cycle related)
I would MAYBE still show a horse needing bute (muscle pain probably, leg pain no)
I would MAYBE still show a horse needing dexamethazone if treating airway problems (maybe) and hive (yes)
I have NEVER given robaxin
I would NEVER touch perfect prep
I DO ice after every jumping
I DO schedule standard lameness exams every 6-8 weeks for the SOUND horse
I DO ultrasound at the slightest new heat/swelling or pain response on biweekly leg palpations.
I DO use a qualified "certified journeyman" farrier who works with/for my vet and reshoe every 5 weeks
And I do a lot of other things to ensure my horses get to the show ready to perform drug free (and I hate lunging). If a sound horse suddenly needs bute or equiox to show, I seriously consider WHY the horse needs it to determine if a couple of days off is needed despite the schedule.
And no, my horses' life and even soundness, are not worth the risk for one $25,000 class and certainly not a ribbon or fame!
I feel much better knowing "there will be another day" than gambling on tomorrow. If I want to gamble I do it with my own health and safety, not that of the horses that give so much to me in a sport that is already a risk in itself.
These threads are getting out of control. Esp the other one. One mare required depo shots, b/c she was a bitch otherwise. She had loads of soundness issues related to one hoof (it would crack, couldnt keep a shoe one), and was young. Of course I gave her bute. I showed her, I showed her when she had a cast on her hoof (the vet recomended it, to speed up healing, and prevent stiffness). I had a vet note. I never rode her if she was lame. When I sold her, I did not hide anything, I even handed over her latest x-rays before anyone asked.
Other side of the story: My last horse. He was old, and pounded on for years. Previous owner's trainer made everything in the barn get injected when showing over 3ft (he was a jr hunter at the time). They were open about giving him robaxin at shows, open about vet records. Told us horse had never actuly been treated for lameness, everything was a prevenative. He was on loads of supplements as well for joint health. We bought him knowing he would not vet. We bought him for what it would cost to lease another horse with his mileage. I went into it knowing it was hit or miss. We never had a problem, stoped supplements, everything. He got bute only on show days where the footing was bad. He never took a lame step while we had him.
My thoughts on the matter: I am going to keep a horse pain-free. If they are lame, I am not going to show them. I will however, make them pain free and fix whatever is hurting them. If that means they need injections and are comfy again, fine, when they are comfy again, ill show them. If they are sore one night from hard footing, i'll pack thier hooves, give them bute and take it easy on them. If in the morning, they are comfy again, and the footing is better, i will show them.
Edited to add: Lame in my book is anything not quite right, or not the horse's "normal"
Last edited by pinkme; Sep. 11, 2010 at 01:11 PM.
For a moment there, you bored me to death
There was only one time I buted at a show - my mare and I flipped onto our faces. So I put not opposed to it every now and then. In cases like that, ok. But if the horse is lame on and off, I wont show.
I feel like the question isn't always about lameness as in limping whether it be barely or very noticeably, but more about over all way of going. Many times a horse will get injections, bute, supplements- not because it is limping (though this does occur) but because it helps the horse go a bit more fluid, jump a little crisper, do a cleaner lead, ect. Its not that the horse wouldn't pass a jog without it, but the meds help him/her to feel and go their ultimate best. This makes sense in the hunters since they are not only required to go around the jumps and jog sound- but do it with the utmost grace and fluidity. I also think it is true that as athletes, the horses will get sore here and there and it is not a cruelty to give them the equivalent of an aspirin and still show (try and be lighter with the class load ect)-- obviously within reason. I think that if they have an issue that will get worse with work, or will cause them to sustain secondary injuries, it is time to give them a rest and do what you can to help them heal.
My pony was purchased when he was 6 with "arthritic changes" in his hind legs, and that, coupled with an old suspensory injury, made me take very good care of him health-wise and watchful. He was 100% sound 90% of the time, but every once in awhile, particularly if it was cold or he'd been inside (pony lived out, weather-permitting), he'd come out stiff and a bit ouchy. He would get some bute and then go for a ride as riding actually did loosen him up and make him go better. I never buted and jumped him around at home, if he was sore it was a flat day. He did, however, always get bute after a show or a lesson, more just as a preventative measure. I always compared it to me takign an Advil after a hard run, I/he would have been fine without it, but it was nice to have it.
My current horse is slightly older and has a bit of arthritis, but doesn't need injections or a daily supplement yet. Proper exercise and care, as well as being outside 8-12 hours a day takes care of it. Some days, such as when there's crappy weather in the middle of show season and he's stuck inside, and schooling must continue, he'll get a bit of bute. However, once again, I wouldn't ask him to jump a full course of our max height while on bute, mostly just some flat stuff. He does get bute after we school higher than normal (hoping to move up next summer!) but I'll back off of that after his body's used to it. After a long show on footing that isn't that great, he'll get some.
I sold my pony before he needed hock injections, but my horse will probably need them in the next few years. He's not ready to be retired and loves his job... the bigger the jumps the happier he is. I only jump in lessons once a week and at shows, so I'm saving his jumps, and always wrap and cold hose etc. If hock injections once, and maybe eventually twice a year, keep him happy and sound, he'll keep going. But once the yearly/biyearly hock injections are no longer cutting it and he starts to lose his enthusiasm, he'll move back to little jumps and start teaching a kid all over again.
The poll selections are too black and white in defining a "grey area".
If the horse is stiff or has a little bit of arthritis going on AND you are sure it is not going to cause further harm to use them? See no issues with injections and appropriate NSAIDS as indicated. I never used robaxin so won't comment just based on hearing this or that.
If the horse is living in a tent stall on the road for weeks? It probably NEEDS something for stiffness.
If the horse has some hormonal issues that can be legally dealt with, that is certainly acceptable as well.
My "grey area" stops when it is a visibly sore leg/foot with heat or swelling where none exsisted before. I'd still medicate to make them comfortable but certainly would never ride one like that, let alone show.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
None of your options really described my views, so I didn't vote (although the third option would have been close if it did not include the perfect prep.)
I equate a bute once in a while to me taking an Advil after a tough workout. It is not enough to mask a serious problem but it WILL make a horse more comfortable, and I feel it is my responsibility to make sure my guy is happy in his job. Like humans, most horses do better with regular physical activity to keep them sound and fit. My schooling rides for my horse are like me going to the gym; we work hard, might get a little muscle sore from time to time, but it's all about developing strong, healthy muscles and enough cardiovascular fitness to support us in the jobs we do (mostly equitation these days.)
I also have no problem with joint injections, used judiciously by a competent vet, to help keep an older, hard working horse stay comfortable. I think there is a gray area is how to define "judicious." My current horse is 11 and just got his first hock injections about a week ago. He was NOT lame at all, but I could tell he was struggling a bit in his changes and he was starting to come out a little on the stiff side on cooler/damp days. He tolerated the injections with no difficulty, had a few days off with cold hosing and hand walking, and happily went back to work feeling like a million bucks (and yeah... there were a few actual bucks involved, LOL.) Of course there are people who seem to inject much more frequently than I would ever be comfortable with... like anything else, injections are useful/reasonable tools that can be abused. I've had them myself (thank you, Mr Orthopedic Surgeon) and they are a godsend without which I'd probably be stuck on the couch.
Under no circumstances will a show (or ride) a horse that is not 100% sound... but there are plenty of horses that will come out a little stiff and who improve very rapidly with work. I personally "come out stiff" when I get up every morning myself - and similarly get sounder as I move around - I do not consider that unsound. A horse that comes out that way and does NOT improve - that is unsound and a totally different situation.
Perfect Prep is another entirely different matter, and is used to make a horse "quieter" and more tractable. That is not a soundness issue but a performance enhancement, and IMO, therefore a violation of at least the spirit of the rule that prohibits giving substances which artificially create behavioral change.
********** We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
To me, lame is lame. If his head is bobbing at all due to movement, or you can tell by watching him move freely (large arena, even large round pen) and you identify an issue with any leg/hoof... he's lame.
Bute is a band-aid, not a solution! He isn't lame because he has pain... he has pain because he has an issue.
Hope this helps, and best of luck to you and your equine friend
Bute will not mask a truly lame horse. A gram or two of bute once every 24 hours is not that powerful. Some stiffness or mild joint issues...sure.
These threads are almost turning comical for me. For all of you who think that drugging horses is a new phenomenon, reserved for unethical trainers and clueless, crappy-riding owners, I have news for you. Horses were drugged, in the "good old days," REALLY. It was just more difficult to test for them. Today, drug testing has become much more sophisticated and nearly everything can be found in a test. That's all...
Shoot...I remember my old QH show days...nothing, I mean NO drugs were legal. Imagine that.
...I have news for you. Horses were drugged, in the "good old days," REALLY. It was just more difficult to test for them. Today, drug testing has become much more sophisticated and nearly everything can be found in a test. That's all...
We can probably date ourselves when we mention when we started there were NO drug tests. Sophisticated or otherwise.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
If he's sore AFTER working (as in body sore, not limping, which is a sign something is WRONG), and he needed a little bute while he recovers, that's okay with me. He engaged in an athletic activity and is a bit achey.
If he can't work without painkillers before I do anything, he's not working. It's like a human--pain is a signal something's wrong, and when you get the pain and what kind matters. My new dance pro just hurt his back--when it was a new injury, even though it's his job and how he makes a living, he didn't teach. The pain before he even would get on the floor meant "acute injury, pound on it at your own risk." It's getting better now, but activity can irritate it--he might ease off (he's changed some routines so he's not doing the moves that stress it) and he might take some Advil. I wouldn't view it any differently with a horse--if he's coming off rest sore, stiff, and generally unhappy, I'm not going to drug him up to work him. (I might give him something so he's comfortable while not working.) If he's working and the act of working leaves him sore afterwards, I might give him something to make recovery go easier. And if he's in constant pain, the routine has to change--I know older dance teachers (the ones who've spent years pounding their bodies like bottom-level claimers at Penn) who've simply HAD to back off how much they teach, how hard they dance. Their bodies are saying "Not anymore." If I have a horse who is always sore when I go to ride him, it's time to back down. No one, human or animal, can keep pounding forever.
I don't think drugging is new. I just don't think it's any more the right thing than it was in the 'old days.' And I don't think there's anything noble or humane about using injections and painkillers to keep a horse showing more every year and for later in his life. If he needs bute every ride because he's traveling all the time and showing every weekend, maybe he should be showing less. Humans have a performance lifespan and so do horses. Theirs isn't as long as ours.
I have a questions it seems many people on here are against routine maintenance that seems to be used in all consistent top level show horses, is it strictly a naive crowd (please don't take that as offensive) that think injections are the end all? In my experience a yearly injection to hocks, stifles, whatever is needed is just maintenance. That being said I don't suggest to my clients that young horses get injected, why cause a weakness that isn't there, but in a horse showing consistently (2 weekends a month at big A shows) there is natural wear and tear. IF a hock or stifle injection helps the horse feel more comfortable then why not do it? IF the vet suggests it then we do it. Once you inject often the horse feels stronger which allows you to build muscle in the weak area which in the long run strengthens the area, obviously you can't build muscle in the joint but by the joint feeling tighter it allows the muscles around the joint to strengthen, sometimes this is not possible without the injection, so why not help your horse out if they need it?
We are asking them to do something unnatural. We have domesticated these horse so much that they not only accept a rider but are willing to jump over a course of substantial obstacles just because We say so. That being said they are extremely fit, like any athlete they get sore so why not give them something here and there to alleviate their soreness. I used to date a college football player who now plays professionally you think there weren't day he would come home ice his knee, put icy hot on his shoulder and down three advil before watching tv? OF course he put himself through such insane stress, plus was getting tackled by 250lb men everyday he was killing his body, he hurt often but he pushed through it and kept playing. So why not ice the horses after they jump, give robaxin here and there to prevent injuries more than mask them, maybe banamine here and there for the same reason, give a bath with sore no more once a month or as needed. I jsut don't see the harm in doing all of these preventative things. It is one thing if a horse comes out head bobbing lame and someone gives it a handful of robaxin and some bute, maybe then it may not appear as uncomfortable but the rider and anyone who knows the horse knows you are only masking the problem. But when you know you worked your horse extra hard, maybe it was the first time a children's hunter jumps a 3'6'' course with a not so perfect ride, they have not been doing it for a while they may feel it in the morning so why let the problem start. By giving robaxin or a bute after this lesson it may help to relax the muscles so that by the time he would feel it they have already worked themselves out. If it is preventing a problem from occurring I don't see the problem with it.
Honestly the majority of show horses seem to be on a program that helps alleviate discomfort and in my opinion they should be because we have forced them to live in such an unnatural way. I don't know if this sounds just like rambling or if it actually makes the point I intend. I do not by any means believe in drugging a horse or riding a horse that is even slightly off but I do believe in maintenance, whether that be a yearly hock injection or robaxin at night after a long day of showing more for the fact that I am preventing an injury from occurring. IF any of you are athletes (maybe you run or bike) there are days you come home from a workout and you have tweaked a muscle oddly so you put icy hot on it or take an advil or take a bath in a few hours that sore muscle has worked itself out right? had you not done anything about it likely the next morning you would be in severe pain and maybe even stiff (who has woken up with a stiff neck?) SO if we as athletes take a muscle relaxer or a pain killer here and there to relieve the stress we have inflicted on ourselves why wouldn't we do the same for our trusted equine friends?
I am sure I am going to get a lot of backlash for this but I hop I have pin pointed all of the details that should help all of you sit down and think, wow she is right I had never thought of it in that sense.
When I had my first experience with ring bone the lameness specialist told me he new horses very advanced showing 3.6 foot with injections such of IRAP and also bute. I think it is a personal preference. Some horses like having a job and get depressed when not given a job.