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  1. #1
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    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. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img]



  2. #2
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    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. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img]



  3. #3
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    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.
    "Common sense is so rare nowadays, it should be classified as a super power."-Craig Bear Laubscher



  4. #4
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    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 [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] 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.



  5. #5
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    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.



  6. #6
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    Mar. 24, 2000
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    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?



  7. #7
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    Sep. 25, 2000
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    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 [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img]
    -Megan



  8. #8
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    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...



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct. 21, 1999
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    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.
    Originally Posted by Alagirl
    We just love to shame poor people...when in reality, we are all just peasants.



  10. #10
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    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?



  11. #11
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    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.



  12. #12
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    Jan. 19, 2001
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    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.



  13. #13
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    Thank you, doubletake. This is hard, but I thank you for your kind words.

    My poor fluffy horse. . . .



  14. #14
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    Jan. 30, 2001
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    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?
    \"just remember this my girl, when you look up in the sky, you can see the stars but still not see the light.\" -The Eagles (song by J. Tempchin/R. Stradlund)



  15. #15
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    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.



  16. #16
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    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.
    \"just remember this my girl, when you look up in the sky, you can see the stars but still not see the light.\" -The Eagles (song by J. Tempchin/R. Stradlund)



  17. #17
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    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... [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img] 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! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img]

    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.



  18. #18
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    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.



  19. #19
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    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.)



  20. #20
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    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!



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