I think the time has come to make the decision. My 13 year old OTTB that once was a real joy to ride is quite lame. I believe on all four. He has had his hocks injected several years ago, has had two rounds of IV Tildren for navicular changes, several sessions of IM Adequan. All I have managed to do with him the last few years is light hacking in the fall. He just recently had more injections but they did not help. He is stabbing down in front, and not able to reach forward with one of his hind legs.
He is not a happy camper on turnout. He has hysterics if a bug lands on him and can be difficult to handle turning in and out in the winter. I have two other horses and a third that I am schooling for a friend.
So here is my dilemma, do I spend the money to have him checked and x-rayd or just bite the bullet and put him down?
Putting him down will not be easy but neither is watching him in pain.
I guess if it were me I would want to do the diagnostics so I knew why he was lame. I might then make the decision not to try and fix it, but if you aren't sure what's going on, do you want to know that first? What if its something you could address with a potentially good outcome? If you do know why he's lame and feel it is unlikely to ever resolve and further diagnostics are to show you how far it has progressed or something like that then I might skip the added expense.
Only you can be the one to make that decision. But, I agree with islgrl...I, too, would want to find out the underlying cause of the lameness. You may have already tried to diagnose it without any luck. Either way, I would talk to your vet and try and figure out your options. If he could be made comfortable, could he just be a pasture horse?
Not sure what your financial situation is. For me, I think I'd want to do the diags just so I had something to fall back on even if I knew I couldn't afford to do a bunch of expensive treatment.
But then again, if you know you can't, maybe it's better to put him down before the bad days outnumber the good. I'm a big fan of "better a week too soon than a moment too late". Better when the good days outnumber the bad.
That said, at his age (which is relatively young) it is odd to me that he'd be so danged sore! If it's the navicular changes that are the root of the problem, it might be as simple as finding a vet/farrier combo that is more informed/has some options for you/him.
But I'm not a vet nor a farrier. So I will send you jingles during this difficult time.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
Stabbing in front could be something a new farrier could help you figure out, a really good lameness farrier that is. Where are you located? I have read on a bazillion posts about the miracles of Pentosan if your vet will write a script for you. It can work much better for some than Adequan. My horse gets PentAussie which does help his hind end but has front end issues that are completely overshadowing the hind end "goodness" right now.
"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse..." ~Revelation 19:11
If the horse is not enjoying life and you are not enjoying the benefits of owning another pasture pet only you can know if the time has come. Quality of life and "real life" economics are also important. A peaceful death is not a bad thing in my mind. Only you can decide. Diagnostics ARE expensive and not a cure...just an explanation....MAYBE!!!
I would also want to pursue diagnostics; unless you've already done radiographs that show arthritic changes & perhaps the arthritis has just gotten worse? I would, however, pull blood for a Lyme test.
Lyme occurred to me too.
I agree with the above; I'd probably do rads on all 4 and pull blood for Lyme. Based on rads I'd consider a consult with a lameness specialist and/or farrier.
If something is found and the treatment is not feasible, then I'd feel better about euth'ing him at such a young age. My fear would be that I would always wonder if there was something relatively minor going on that could be addressed.
This is assuming you haven't already done this. If so, I'd at least pull blood for Lyme and see what it says.
I agree with the others wanting to complete diagnostics prior to making the decision. I wouldn't go to the end of the earth trying to reach a diagnosis, but I'd pull blood and do rads. I'd also probably get a fresh set of veterinary and farrier eyes on him. If you share your general location, I'm sure some other COTHer's can recommend some fabulous vets/farriers to weigh in.
I just went through this myself, though my mare was 25. For me, completing the diagnostics to confirm that there was nothing we could do to make her comfortable really made the decision easier and left me at peace. I didn't spend a fortune. The diagnostics, a 2 month course of equioxx to try and improve her comfort level, and then the euthanasia cost me around $800.00. Not chump change, but in the equine world, not that bad and worth every penny for the peace of mind and the comfort I had, allowing me to hold my girl's head in my lap as she said goodbye.
Just to be clear, I'm not saying "you shouldn't be thinking like this. He's 13! Take him to a University and figure this out and let him be a pasture puff" You already said he's not a turnout kinda guy (my girl wasn't either) and so if he's dealing with conditions that will never allow him to return to some type of career, euthanasia may be the kindest thing you can ever do for him. I'm just saying to make sure you have all the black and white details in front of you so that when you do it, you can move on without any lingering questions.
Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.
Thank you all. This guy seemed to be an all purpose. I did start out with a dressage instructor but decided his hocks couldn't take it. He was great over fences. Steady, forward and calm. Eventually we just did some hacking which he really enjoyed.
In order to have peace of mind, I decided I must have a full assessment. The findings will help in making the decision. I can afford it.
I just finished a round of Adequan IM injections and they did not help. Yesterday I was so angry with him and decided he had to go. It wasn't hot, there was a slight breezed but because he cannot tolerate bugs he got hysterical and got the whole herd running. I ended up bringing them all in. Then I felt guilty all night for thinking of putting him down.
I just wanted to thank you for being willing to put him down versus passing him along into some unknown situation.
I wish you the best of luck in figuring out a course of action. I've been in your shoes and I know it's not easy, and sometimes they will just never be right, no matter what you do, and you get tired of it being such a struggle.
Another vote for - if you can afford it - more diagnostics. He can't be in all that much pain if he's running around & getting the rest of your gang running (& pissing you off).
I wouldn't put a horse down simply because I was frustrated (not that this is what you're doing). Especially one who had done well by me in the past. While I certainly understand your frustration, I can't help but feel that you're looking for validation to simply get rid of him & move on.
There's nothing wrong with this, but then just do it. Don't pad it with reasons.
I'd also check for EPSM...that can make for danger on the ground, hysterics, 4-point misery. I know ALL ABOUT that fury when he gets everyone going but do remember, he feels like $#!t so don't blame him, he doesn't do it to make you mad.
The best thing for me to help with the decision-making is to make the euth appointment a week or so in advance. Making that call and writing it on the calendar is a huge step. Then, when you watch the horse out in his field, knowing he's going over the bridge in 7-6-5-4 days, you'll know that it IS the right thing OR you have time to say no, it is NOT right and cancel the appointment. (I have never cancelled) Better a month too soon than a minute too late.
I also applaud you for not passing him along. Speaking from experience, it is SO much better for you and him to know he's safely tucked in than rattling his way to the killer after some long drawn out process of being handed around from one to the next, all of whom think they're going to train it out of him...Best of luck...
Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.
I agree with everyone else that it would be worth doing some diagnostics before making the decision to put him down. He is fairly young and as others have mentioned it could be something fairly easy to treat like Lyme or general stiffness that something like Pentosan could alleviate.