So ... I took on an older broodmare who, it turns out, is not as sound as I expected. She is done breeding and I want to give her a light riding career.
Vet check (yes, I should have done it before I took the horse, word to the wise), without radiographs, demonstrates limited range of motion on both front legs. Arthritis in both knees and ankles. Vet says no jumping, and not even training level dressage because of her stiffness in the front.
This is a sweet, healthy horse, she is pasture sound, but clearly sore at the trot on the longe.
Right now we are starting her on double MSM. Former owner says put her down. =(
I do board, so I am not really a retirement home (she is not my only horse, but she does have a good 10 years left at least). As another poster on this board stated, "it's not a good time to be a TB mare." It has been suggested I find her a companion home but those are few and far between now!
I am looking for advice on how to proceed to possibly get her to be sound for light trail riding or hacking in an arena. I could go the radiograph/injection route but this isn't a show horse, it's an old thoroughbred broodmare that hasn't been ridden since the track.
I recently had my 22 yr old arab mares knee injected, and between that and monthly Pentosan she is sound again. 4 months ago I was thinking about putting her down! The knee injections are not that expensive, neither is hte Pentosan.
Maybe you should try riding her at hte walk for a while to see if she has a nice attitude under saddle before you decide on whether or not you want to fund joint injections for her. She may or may not like being ridden at htis point in her life.
Seriously. I used flax products with my older arthritic gelding with no results other than nice coat. Switched to Horseshine because vendor didn't want to take bags home from show. Noticed improvement in two weeks. Then I started to take flax oil and noticed same improvement in me!
Horseshine has more omega 3s than other products (at the time -- maybe there is something equally good now, but I won't change) so look for the total omega 3 amount. You need high doses to fix inflammation. For fixing me, it was 7-8 grams of Omega 3 that did the trick
Sports medicine boots, put on properly and with appropriate supplement/injection suport, have made several horses I know sound and happy enough to be ridden regularly and actually made one horse so sound on an arthritic fetlock that we didn't know about it for probably 2 months.
Make sure she is out as much as possible, and I would also try Pentosan -- it is much less expensive than Adequan. She may be too far gone for that, though. Shockwave can help enormously but of course that's not cheap.
I doubt any kind of boots will make much difference.
I'd say that if you're starting from scratch, there's certainly hope.
Arthritis is a relapsing/remitting sort of disorder--meaning horses (and people) will have good patches and bad patches.
I don't think you can expect to optimally manage a creaky old horse without giving it as much turnout as possible. Ideally 24/7 with shelter if she wants it, and shelter where she won't be bullied or crowded so she can lie down and snooze when she wants to. This, I realize, is often tough to provide in a boarding setup, but IMO it's the "ideal", and even if you can get close I'd say it's the place to start.
How is her muscle tone and weight? If she's sore at the trot, can she be walked? Weak, flabby muscles demand that the joints take more than their fair share of the work. Muscles can ALWAYS be improved, whereas joints cannot. If she's overweight, it's also more work for the poor joints. Lots of walking on gentle slopes can do wonders for general strength, even if she's a little too sore for harder work.
Don't discount the possibility that good shoeing and/or trimming can make the best of poor joints. Which is best really, really depends and an expert farrier can make suggestions.
As to "which supplement", well, good luck. My own personal philosophy is that they probably can't hurt and might help. If I were going to go about it scientifically, I'd start with a trial of Adequan IM, and if the horse responded, either keep up with that or go to an oral HA product. MSM and glucosamine are cheap, almost certainly harmless, and worth trying. But do yourself a favor--add ONE THING AT A TIME so you have half a chance of knowing what helps and what doesn't. Always remembering, of course, that arthritis gets better and worse all by itself so again . . . good luck with figuring out the supplement thing.
Medications might be necessary, but none of them is without risk. If the benefit is > the risk, worth using. If not, proceed with caution.
I have to admit, this situation has been stressing me out.
The good news is, she is out 24/7 in pasture with just three other horses, two yearlings and another mare, and has shelter, etc. She's not unhappy, I am the one who's fretting!
Her muscle tone has gotten a lot better since she came in March. She's an active in the field and if you didn't know better, you wouldn't see that she's got issues when she walks around. It's on the longe line at the trot that you see it -- she can't extend her forelegs and she is lame on the right front.
I did everything I could short of vet checking when I got her, but I should have taken that extra step. I believed what I was told about her soundness. I had no reason to believe she would be this unsound given her history of basically doing nothing but having babies -- she raced three times. She has excellent conformation and her last foal is still racing at 9 years old. I am back to thinking it would be better to keep trying to get her in foal (she's only 15), although previous owners gave up on that, saying it was impossible after trying for the last five years. They had a lot of money so I am thinking they tried the best they could and I couldn't do better.
I think the suggestions are all good, and I appreciate getting some ideas. It may be that I just have a pasture pet. The vet's issue, and my barn owner's, was that she would be dangerous to ride due to her lack of ability to pick her feet up and get them out of the way because of the limited range of motion.
These older mares are a real problem in the horse industry, and there just aren't enough "companion homes" to go around. There was a thread on another topic board about a mediocre TB stallion that was lame, and everyone was stepping up to help him and take him in because the owner was going to euthanize, like that was the greatest evil. All I could think was, what makes that horse any different from the thousands of old broodies that also don't have a place to retire or go?
PM me if you would like a lovely TB mare to grace your pasture