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When is it time to say goodbye?

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  • When is it time to say goodbye?

    As some of you know I bought a nice ISH mare last Feb., and she was awesome. We knew she may have mild arthritis in her right hock, but was told that by riding her correctly that she would be fine (and if she needed injections no biggie). After the PPE we had the local vet/chiro/equine dentist extraordinaire give her an adjustment, and he found that it wasnt her hock that made her flex lame it was b/c her hip was REALLY out. Only b/c of these things and her awesome attitdute I bought her, but I should never have *head-desk*.
    So after having her for almost a year, and doing everything in my power to keep her sound, she never has been competly sound. She has also turned into a competly different horse, she is a nightmare on the ground and so very pissy undersaddle. It doesnt help that I am scared to take her xc after her bolting incident last summer *sigh*.
    I have been thinking for some time that I just need to sell her, we are both frustrated and I am not going to get anywhere with her .
    My dilemma is that I dont know who would buy her, and would get enough to get a horse that I could do what I wanted with. So should I keep her or sell her and try to find the right horse with a very limited budget?
    Eventingismylife
    http://www.jumpingthebigsky.wordpress.com

  • #2
    Have you gotten a second opinion? I don't generally have a high opinion of chiropractors - they always seem to have THE answer, which requires X number of more adjustments. "The hip is out" seems to be a common answer they give, in my experience. I think chiro's have their place and time, but I don't let them diagnose my horses when there is a lameness problem and I don't put my heart into believing what they say. Anyway, my point is, the horse was sounder before the chiro got involved and that makes me suspicious that the hocks really are the problem. Have you tried injections or Adequan/Legend? If you've only had the chiro's opinion, it's not time to give up yet, IMO. The market for a horse like her is pretty bleak. You may lose more money selling her for pennies and buying another horse than if you invested more in her.

    If it makes you feel any better, I was having problems with a horse last year taking off down the longside in the canter. Flat out bolting. For the record, he was a lovely, quality horse with a great temperament and correct dressage. This was VERY uncharacteristic of him, so I got worried, had the vet out.. "he's sound, no health issues." Got the chiro out next... "He's very tense around such and such area, needs X number of treatments." When I inquired about massage, the chiro stammered with, "combining with massage helps, but chiro is more effective in this case." Yeah, sure. I paid for four treatments before I gave up. There was no effect on him whatsoever. Tried everything training-wise with coach. It finally clicked with my pea brain that I'd changed his feed around. Turns out it was his hay - I'd been giving him 2nd cut timothy/alfalfa to get some weight on him and he was trying to behave under saddle, but was so hyped up that he would end up 'snapping' in the canter and off he'd go. A week of detoxing off the hay and he was good as gold. Apparenty just VERY sensitive to hay choice!

    Anyway, point is: explore your options more.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by *Trinity* View Post
      Have you gotten a second opinion? I don't generally have a high opinion of chiropractors - they always seem to have THE answer, which requires X number of more adjustments. "The hip is out" seems to be a common answer they give, in my experience. I think chiro's have their place and time, but I don't let them diagnose my horses when there is a lameness problem and I don't put my heart into believing what they say. Anyway, my point is, the horse was sounder before the chiro got involved and that makes me suspicious that the hocks really are the problem. Have you tried injections or Adequan/Legend? If you've only had the chiro's opinion, it's not time to give up yet, IMO. The market for a horse like her is pretty bleak. You may lose more money selling her for pennies and buying another horse than if you invested more in her.

      If it makes you feel any better, I was having problems with a horse last year taking off down the longside in the canter. Flat out bolting. For the record, he was a lovely, quality horse with a great temperament and correct dressage. This was VERY uncharacteristic of him, so I got worried, had the vet out.. "he's sound, no health issues." Got the chiro out next... "He's very tense around such and such area, needs X number of treatments." When I inquired about massage, the chiro stammered with, "combining with massage helps, but chiro is more effective in this case." Yeah, sure. I paid for four treatments before I gave up. There was no effect on him whatsoever. Tried everything training-wise with coach. It finally clicked with my pea brain that I'd changed his feed around. Turns out it was his hay - I'd been giving him 2nd cut timothy/alfalfa to get some weight on him and he was trying to behave under saddle, but was so hyped up that he would end up 'snapping' in the canter and off he'd go. A week of detoxing off the hay and he was good as gold. Apparenty just VERY sensitive to hay choice!

      Anyway, point is: explore your options more.
      Thanks *Trinity*.
      My chiro is also a very well known and reputable vet, and he doesn't beat around the bush about keeping horses sound. With that being said, I know where your coming from b/c I also don't buy into the "your horses needs this, this and this and she will be as good as new". My horse was also sounder after the chiro helped, sorry if I miss worded that in my first post. Yes my mare has been injected twice, a few months before I bought her, and once after I purchased her, but it didnt show any improvement with her soundness. I have also have had 2 other vets look at her, so I feel like I am kinda running out of options.
      Eventingismylife
      http://www.jumpingthebigsky.wordpress.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Ugh, I'm sorry she isn't working out. It seems like you've been struggling with her for a while, it might be time to move on. Have you talked to Meggan about selling? She might have some ideas for you.

        As far as if you'll be able to sell for enough to buy a nicer new horse... that is a reasonable concern, but you're only going to get further behind if you keep putting money into the wrong horse.
        Last edited by Lone; Jan. 10, 2011, 12:43 AM.
        Cascadia- OTTB mare. 04/04-05/10
        If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever

        Comment


        • #5
          No really earthshattering advice, just sympathy--I was in your boat a year and a half ago. Unfortunately, my guy was in chronic, unfixable pain and due to his temperment not a safe choice for "re-homing" as a pasture puff. I ended up making the safest choice for him, which was euthanasia. IT SUCKED. It was godawful for me, but looking back I should have done it much sooner. Get as many vet opinions as you can, but don't let yourself be trapped if she's not safe for what you want to do. If her problems aren't genetic, maybe placement as a broodie? <<<Hugs to you and your mare>>> and hoping you can find a placement that's more suitable for both of you.

          Comment


          • #6
            Have you tried letting her down for an extended period of time? Sometimes the best vet is Dr. Green.

            SCFarm
            The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.

            www.southern-cross-farm.com

            Comment


            • #7
              I agree with Kate and LLDM - I would try one of the two. I know Kate's post sounds drastic but I have known other horses that were in pain and got dangerous on the ground and their owners decided the kindest thing for everyone was to put them out of their distress. The other option for me would be to throw her out in a paddock for 6 months to a year. I would personally send her somewhere I didn't have to see him every day so I wouldn't kill myself with what ifs or want to pull him out and check.

              Other areas, I don't know what the prevalence of Lyme Disease is in your area but I would check that.

              I also have known horses that have had drastic temperament changes because they had PPSM or EPSM. What does she eat? You could try taking her off of all carbs and feeding either a very low starch grain or alfalfa pellets and oil. Riverbend Pol might chime in here, but she had a horse that was difficult and he improved drastically with diet. Lameness isn't a sign but it could be something muscular that looks like a lameness. Just a thought.

              You know yourself and you know your horse and how much more you can take. I know that when I'm asking the question if it's time to move on, it usually is. You will make the right decision. Try not to beat yourself up in the process.

              Comment


              • #8
                Something you may want to consider is arthritis in her neck vertebrae. I was convinced that my horse's problems were stemming from his hind end and had chiros and different local type vets agree with hind end (stifle, hock, hip were all addressed) and treat accordingly with no real improvement. I thought it FELT like the hind end as well when he was under saddle. I took him to Dr. Kevin Keane in PA who almost immediately said he thought the neck was the problem after taking history and watching the horse on lunge and under saddle. I thought he was WHACKED and that I had just wasted my time and money coming to him.

                They ultrasounded and x-rayed his neck and showed me the arthritis which corresponded to where he had two lumpish areas on his neck that I thought was simply poor musculature development due to his undersaddle issues. Had 2 of his neck vertebrae injected on each side and the problems went away quickly. The sore neck caused his entire topline to hurt from sore muscles from compensating. Now he is being maintained on Adequan to try to stretch the time between neck injections. According to Dr. Keane, he believes that neck vertebrae arthritis is way under-diagnosed and many cases of poor performance/attitude are actually untreated arthritis in the neck vertebrae.

                I am not sure if this is the problem in your horse but it is certainly worth an xray or an ultrasound to see if this is the problem. When on top of your horse, do you see any parts of the musculature of her neck that looks different than what you expect the average horse's neck to look like? That can be one of the tell tale signs, although I am sure this differs for each case it is at least something that you can look at before you have the vet out. Personally, I felt like I had a totally different horse after the injections.

                Good luck, I hope you can find what is wrong with the mare!

                P.S. Now I understand why Dr. Keane has such a great reputation!
                Annabelle Mayr, Arcadia Farm
                Home of Fitz, Austria & Erin
                Now over the Rainbow Bridge: Daeo, Max, Finn, Jake, Seamus & Pleasure

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'd second the lots of turnout, Dr Green idea if it is possible for you.

                  I've also had horses that were so sensitive to alfalfa in their diet, that it would give them the screaming heebie jeebies and have them bucking and rearing in their corral.
                  I have a hottish OTTB right now that is perfectly delightful when he has alfalfa, but my former horse, TB/Perchy, would go literally nuts with a bit of alfalfa.

                  Since you don't want to ride out, and the horse is hard to handle on the ground (presumably due to pain), I would say it is absolutely time to find a different horse to put your efforts into.

                  If your skills are up to an OTTB, they can be had for a song. We'll all help you look at the photos!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by longrun View Post
                    I agree with Kate and LLDM - I would try one of the two. I know Kate's post sounds drastic but I have known other horses that were in pain and got dangerous on the ground and their owners decided the kindest thing for everyone was to put them out of their distress. The other option for me would be to throw her out in a paddock for 6 months to a year...

                    You know yourself and you know your horse and how much more you can take. I know that when I'm asking the question if it's time to move on, it usually is. You will make the right decision. Try not to beat yourself up in the process.
                    Thank you, Longrun, for stating this far more eloquently than I was able to! Agree that turnout time could be a great option, if you can swing it. OP, can you catch ride something for a while if you turned your mare out? Also, I know a horse who had almost exactly the same thing as ADM7040--totally different animal after the arthritis in the neck was found and addressed. Another thing to check!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Chiming in-Thanks, Long Run!

                      Dr. Green is a lovely idea UNLESS your horse actually DOES have EPSM. If she does, fields of endless grass will be the living end. As Long Run mentioned, if you turn your mare out at home, you will stare at her till your eyes water and your brain explodes, deciding if she looks a little better today or should you maybe just hop on and take her for a walk, it is such a pretty day, she might like the change of scene, maybe just a day of beauty will make her feel better, isn't she a little more sound than the last time you looked at her, Honey? OMG, you will GO INSANE. If you sell her, to whom?? Then won't you freak out about whether they care for her well enough or, flip side, is she breaking their bones? OR are they beating her into submission?

                      I have to say, having lived through your misery, I would put her down. There are FAR WORSE options for a horse than a dignified, fear-free, pain-free death among friends. I put my EPSMer down when he blew his S-I for the second time. He was a danger to all around him. Last week, I put a dear old friend down for a massive corneal ulcer that was not (would not) healing. Sometimes you just have to throw in the towel and let them cross The Bridge to romp around with their old friends in peace. It is THE WORST decision to have to make but boy o boy, sure beats the options. Once you decide, you can sleep again. So sorry you're going through this, it is not easy to have to be the grownup, that's for damn sure.
                      Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        So what exactly IS the lameness problem? And what exactly causes this mare's bitchyness? You have mentioned in past threads that she used to be a sweetheart and has gradually turned girthy and generally rotten, which makes me think ulcers. You might get more qualified, educated answers if you share what your vets have determined about this horse's attitude and lameness issue. Even if the answer is "the vets don't know."
                        Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I had a lot of similar struggles with my horse before Dawkins (taz) last year and the year before. He went from being a generally good boy to absolutely psychotic. He was rearing, he would freak out and throw a fit if I touched him the wrong way, in his stall he would kick at me when I touched him so it would take me forever to get tacked up. He traveled haunches in right all.the.time. And we had absolutely no idea what happened. (You can ask Olivia about my issues with Taz haha she had to deal with most of it with me). We had the vet out again and again. We tried injections, switched his feed, did blocks, x rays, ultrasounds and found nothing. Finally, we found out it was his suspensory. He would never recover. He has been turned out since September 2009 and he's still not sound. However, his tempermant (ahhh I can't spell this word!) has improved a LOT and we might now be able to give him away as a pasture pony. We have wondered more than once whether we should just put him down, because he's just costing us a LOT of money. But, he's happy now so we're going to spend the money.
                          Soooo my long novel leads to this-
                          Try turning her out. And like everyone else has said, turn her out somewhere away from you. When Taz was nearby, I was constantly looking at him, wondering what was going on, wondering if he was any better, I tried lunging him multiple times. But then we moved him and now he can just be left alone to hang out without me interfering with him.
                          Now, I don't have the attachment to Taz like you do to Addie. I have another horse now, which has also helped me a lot. If you could maybe find somewhere super cheap to turn Addie out and lease something? That helped me a lot.
                          Sorry this was so long and not that helpful :P I would say that you should definitely talk to Olivia (although I'm sure you have) about what she thinks, and before even considering putting her down, WAIT and see if she improves with turnout, feed change, etc.
                          I'm so sorry about this, and I hope you get her figured out.
                          http://eventer4life.wordpress.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Girthiness was a HUGE part of my horse's problems as well as being cold backed, too. The sorer he became the crankier he was and he would sometimes balk under saddle, traveled crooked, could not hold a canter OR would canter in a huge unbalanced 15 foot stride with his head going everywhere. He started with a super temperament and great attitude under saddle, but would get cranky when asked to work harder. It DID seem like he was weak or hurting somewhere in the back end, but it was the neck. If the neck has never been investigated, it may be worth the money to have it examined by a qualified vet.

                            BTW, after his neck vertebrae injections and a few weeks off to allow sore muscles to heal, my horse has NEVER again displayed either girthiness or cold back issues. Before the injections, I was ready to sell him/give him away/anything just so that I did not have to get back on him and fail yet again to have a decent ride on him, so I understand your feelings completely.
                            Annabelle Mayr, Arcadia Farm
                            Home of Fitz, Austria & Erin
                            Now over the Rainbow Bridge: Daeo, Max, Finn, Jake, Seamus & Pleasure

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by eventingismylife View Post
                              My dilemma is that I dont know who would buy her, and would get enough to get a horse that I could do what I wanted with. So should I keep her or sell her and try to find the right horse with a very limited budget?
                              While I think it is more than reasonable to give up on her as your event horse, I am not sure if selling her is a viable option even if it is for little money. Who is going to want a horse that is bad on the ground and bad under saddle and not sound?
                              I suspect that is why you are getting lots of suggestions for what the cause of this change in behavior could be. The only way I see selling being a realistically viable option is if you figure out what the heck the problem is.
                              Since this is a change in behavior, it seems like it could very well be a physical issue. Now figuring out what the issue is and how to treat it is of course another issue.
                              I just think, based on what you have said, the idea that you can sell her as she is now is unrealistic. Of course, I could be wrong- would not the first time and sure as heck won't be the last.
                              Unless you are willing to consider euthanasia, I think your most realistic options are to either (1) continue to address her issues on a physical level (and that could simply be trying Dr. Green) or (2) resign yourself to paying for her upkeep for the foreseeable future whether you ride her or not.
                              I realize these options suck and I say this with lots of sympathy (I feel your pain as Bill Clinton would say ). 8 years ago I bought what was supposed to be my first serious event horse- he was unsound within a month of purchase from DJD and has had one physical issue after another since. 8 years later he has been sound enough to do 1 elementary unrecognized HT and he is again unsound and the vets have no idea why this time, let alone what to do about it. My situation is a bit different in that my guy is a sweetheart and good on the ground (unless he is past month 2 of stall rest for whatever the injury of the moment is ) and I love him to pieces (in spite of himself ) but he is not sellable in any way and he is quite the financial drain. Tough position to be in.
                              There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I'd at least give her the benefit of a second opinion before putting her to sleep. You had one vet look at her. While vets can be fantastic, they are not God. What if it is something simple like a joint needing injected or something catastrophic that allows you to feel better about letting her go?

                                The worst that can happen is the second opinion costs you some money for no new information. The best that can happen is the second vet finds and resolves the issue and you get your horse back sound and working.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by magnolia73 View Post
                                  I'd at least give her the benefit of a second opinion before putting her to sleep. You had one vet look at her. While vets can be fantastic, they are not God. What if it is something simple like a joint needing injected or something catastrophic that allows you to feel better about letting her go?
                                  No kidding, wow. I am all for euthanasia for a horse that needs it, but it sound to me like the OP has done very little in terms of diagnostics. I cannot imagine euthanasia for a horse that is clearly uncomfortable but has yet to have a thorough and proper work up. Not a 6 year old that was happy and ride-able less than a year ago! But then again, that's just me.

                                  It has taken me 4 years to get to the bottom of what is wrong with my mare. I can tell you that all the "local vets" in my area told me I was crazy for even thinking there was a problem, and the best of them could not figure out a damn thing. I would highly recommend taking her to a good clinic that has multiple well-respected vets, or to your nearest University Vet Hospital, and do a thorough evaluation to pinpoint the actual location(s) of the problem. There are a million things that could cause what you are explaining. Anything like problems in the neck like one poster mentioned, to ulcers, to SI problems, to diet. Have you xrayed the hock again to see if it may have changed and be fusing (which can be really painful)?

                                  Anyway, I would certainly give any horse the benefit of a complete and thorough work-up with multiple vets attending before I considered putting the horse down.
                                  On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    My parents bought me a "fancy" packer ($10K) after years of naughty, sour and essentially feral ponies. We bought him from a girl at our barn who had owned him since she bought him off of the track about 6 years earlier. We used the same vet who knew the horse's medical history from top to bottom. Nevertheless, we did a full PPE with x-rays, flexions, etc. One month after we bought him he was lame on his left hind with no evidence from the PPE.

                                    With no diagnostic evidence except the lameness, we took him all over New England to have chiropractic and massage work done to no avail. He then started falling down in the trailer so we tested for every neurological disease under the sun with no answer. We even enlisted the help of an animal psychic.

                                    In a last-ditch effort to diagnose the issue before turning him out indefinitely, we shipped him down to New Bolton Center (in PA) where he stayed at my Aunt and Uncle's farm 5 minutes down the road while the horse had test run. Within 1 day New Bolton diagnosed him as having a bone chip in his hind fetlock that had migrated and was at such an angle that the films taken initially had missed it.

                                    After removing the chip, he was back in work 6 months later and sound as a rock. Unfortunately, I had outgrown him in my ability and we offered him for sale. Within months we sold him for $35K to a very cushy hunter show barn, recouping all of the costs of his surgery and other treatments plus some. The trainer whose client bought him loved him so much that she vowed e would never leave the barn and she called my trainer annually for several years to ask if we had any more like him. I am so glad that we had the resources to figure out what the problem was and fix it. We certainly sleep better at night and he ended up with the fairytale life.

                                    I know that not everyone has the resources to figure these things out, and you may find the problem to be unsolvable. In that case, I understand the decision to euthanize the horse: there are many things far worse that death for horses, namely an unforeseeable end to pain and suffering. However, I would NOT advise putting a potentially pasture-sound horse to sleep based on the opinion of one vet. Vets can be wrong or make mistakes and, until you know what the problem is, you will not know if it is something that can be resolved or managed.

                                    IMO, when we purchase any animal we assume the responsibility to care for them as best we can, including by giving them the benefit of moving on to the best life possible even if they no longer serve our needs. Even if it means that you have less or little money to spend on your next horse, I would suggest that you do right by your current one and do a bit more to explore the underlying issues (and perhaps you have) before putting her down or giving her away as a miserable mare. Of course, this is just based on my own ethical beliefs and experiences. Best of luck with your decision.
                                    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals" Immanuel Kant

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      A good basic work up by a vet school lameness vet surgeon should not be extremely expensive. You may find something that is easily correctable.

                                      If a good work up doesn't show anything, I would put her with a top level eventing trainer for a month of training. Something very simple (e.g., poor saddle fit, not enough training routine, diet that doesn't suit her, not enough turnout, or poor rider compatibility) could be the real issue.

                                      We owned an ISH for years who was a reject from a fox hunting barn. They couldn't wait to get rid of him, and said all kinds of things about his awful behavior. He loved to trail ride and loved to event. My daughter evented him very successfully through Training. The other daughter did polocrosse with him. He was also a lovely guest horse for timid riders. He was my trusted trail horse. The former owner kept telling us she couldn't believe he worked out for us. He hated foxhunting and was not happy in a big barn, but loved our little back yard situation.

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                                      • #20
                                        I think you have a few options. Jump to euthanasia is a bit drastic considering he symptoms the OP has described.

                                        IMO the horse sounds like a give away in her current state. Unsound, and no idea why is not the best opening line for an ad. My advice would be have another vet look at her. Like someone has already said, vets are not God. If possible get a specialist, they see the outside of normal cases. Which it sounds like your mare is.

                                        If not Dr.Green is a great idea. Sometimes a horse just needs time to let something heal. You can still give her adequan or legend if that makes you feel more comfortable. She would probably benefit since she has arthritis. Time to be a horse would also be good for her brain.

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