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At what point do you say ENOUGH?

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  • At what point do you say ENOUGH?

    A little vent here - I rarely vent on COTH, so I beg your forgiveness.

    I've had Oliver (Trakehner gelding, 9 yrs old) for about three years now. He was just broken under saddle when I got him, and it's been a long, hard road to now. We have yet to make it past BN due to many issues and life getting in the way. Lately, as some of you know, I've had issues with him being cold-backed when mounted and bucking in the canter - a lot of you suggested SI, and my vet confirmed some soreness in the SI region, so we did a bone scan Thursday, which came up negative - nada, not for SI, not for stifles, not for hocks, or anything the back end. I guess this is a relief since there appears to be nothing wrong with his SKELETAL system - of course, it doesn't detect soft tissue injuries.

    Vet suggested that I scope for ulcers, and I did unwillingly (since insurance paid for it last year and we're exempted this year - $$$), and sure enough, it turns out that pony has some ulcers, one which is pretty severe. Of course, I can't afford the two months of GG that I did last year on the insurance company's bill, so I've ordered some blue pop rocks and am waiting for them to come in. I also injected his SI despite his negative scan on advice of my trainer, who mentioned that he's always been a bit funky in the SI area. I have yet to ride him and see if there's any improvment.

    So, at what point do you say ENOUGH and stop trying to make the horse 100% comfortable at considerable expense? I've had horses before who didn't get scoped, didn't get GG, didn't get bone scans or SIs done, and they were fine. This is a gelding who's on 12+ hours of turnout on grass a day, hay in front of him at all times, SmartGut, GG when he's away competing, and mostly he's pretty mellow. I don't know what else to do! I am only a lowly high school teacher and this is getting pretty d@mned expensive and we've yet to DO anything. Just when he's going well - bam! Another vet bill.

    So, I guess I'm just venting as nobody can really help, but how much are you all willing to do to get your horse feeling 100+ %? I'm not talking about pushing a horse that's obviously in pain or sick, but how far are you willing to go? I love this horse, but it feels like somedays I'm just spinning my wheels in the dirt and watching the balance in my check book go down, down, down. Sigh. I do have to say that I'm pretty lucky in that there has been nothing seriously wrong with him, so I thank God for that, but this nickle-and-diming is really getting to me.
    "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

    So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."

  • #2
    Horses are like people--some are remarkably healthy and tough, while others are forever at the doctor's office for some ailment or other.

    It's not his fault he's not a perfect physical specimen, and he probably didn't get the memo that he's expected to be a successful upper level event horse by now. I've had Bonnie for 11 years and she STILL hasn't gotten that memo!

    Sometimes the sound, solid ones are not mentally capable of doing what we want them to do. Sometimes the more fragile ones have the best brains and all the "want to" in the world and their bodies are the only thing holding them back. I have one of each standing in my pasture right now, nose to nose.

    SI injuries and ulcers are TOTALLY treatable. Keebler's had both done, recovered just fine, and of course a totally unrelated problem laid him up for a year. I wouldn't give up just yet!

    But nothing is ever going to render horses "affordable". Nickels and dimes don't even begin to describe it . . . it's pretty tough to know ahead of time which horses are going to prove to be the rugged, just-add-water types.
    Click here before you buy.


    • #3
      Bucking in the canter is almost always a training issue from lack of being in front of the leg. Correct that by loose reins, and sending the horse very forward.

      I know someone that gave away a $25,000 horse after many thousands of $$$ of vet work trying to find out what was wrong. New owner said GO!! No more problems. She got a heck of a horse for $1.

      As for the ulcers, there is a thread on here about ordering very low cost omeprazole from another country and results.


      • #4
        I have the orneriest horse in the world and am among the most incompetent riders on earth, and he never EVER bucked into the canter except when his SI was hurting.

        OP already mentioned she has ordered Blue Pop Rocks.
        Click here before you buy.


        • #5
          Might do a lyme and tick disease snap test. I live in the epicenter for tick bourne diseases, so that is always a strong possibility for us.
          Have you checked the threads over on the horse care forum for ulcer care? There has to be other cheaper ways to treat than gastro gold. Papaya is one that a 4* rider I know uses...
          Intermediate Riding Skills


          • Original Poster

            Oh, I know that he didn't read the memo; I just needed to vent a little after paying that astronomical vet bill (hopefully insurance will recoup some of my costs). Yes, I did order the poprocks after reading the other thread (I think I mentioned that in my OP). And no, the bucking in the canter is NOT a training problem - he's definitely uncomfortable, as he was cantering beautifully just a month ago.

            i know that SI and ulcers are treatable. It's just frustrating, that's all.
            "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

            So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."


            • #7
              I'll let you know when I figure it out. My 'great brain, high maintenance body' horse just started doing baby dressage again, but it's still 1 step forward, 1 step back for us. After our successful return to dressage, she has been stiff and a bit wonky, so off to call the chiro again.

              I second the suggestion that you explore low budget treatments for ulcers and test for lyme, which can make for a low-grade mysteriously uncomfortable horse w/ or without other issues. And it's not expensive to treat if you are lucky.
              I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
              I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09


              • #8
                Do some reading on EPSM/PSSM and see if that fits. Bucking into the canter can be a symptom, but don't know enough about this horse otherwise to know if that's a reasonable possibility. Just a thought.
                "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                Spay and neuter. Please.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Fairview Horse Center View Post
                  Bucking in the canter is almost always a training issue from lack of being in front of the leg. Correct that by loose reins, and sending the horse very forward.
                  As the owner of a pony who has SI issues, I beg to differ. The ONLY time this pony bucks in the canter is when her SI is bothering her. It is my cue to call my chiro/acupuncture vet.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lisa Cook View Post
                    As the owner of a pony who has SI issues, I beg to differ. The ONLY time this pony bucks in the canter is when her SI is bothering her. It is my cue to call my chiro/acupuncture vet.
                    Exactly... bucking/kicking out in the canter is a big sign something is amiss in the back/SI/stifles/etc.


                    • #11
                      The short answer is -- only you know when enough is enough.

                      I have a 14 year old Appendix who has had multiple physical issues for about 4 years now, which include anhydrosis, a dropped hip, dodgy hocks, crappy feet, and our most recent layup - a pull of the lateral collateral ligament of his right front fetlock (most likely caused by ripping shoes from crappy feet).

                      This guy has not gone beyond beginner novice, but is the most willing creature on the planet and he LOVES xc.

                      Despite those good qualities, I have been so frustrated that for the last three summers I basically couldn't ride him from July until September (with the past year being the exception he had off from July until February when he came back to light work).

                      This spring I decided ENOUGH and while I worked on his rehab, I also started looking for a new horse in case he could not come back. (I knew that I could never part with the old dude, so resigned myself to the fact that he might just be done with active work).

                      Of course, as soon as the new horse came home, the old horse has not taken a single lame step and is better than ever (little stinker).

                      In discussing it with my trainer, we realized that although he had been given time off for his various maladies, he had never really been given complete down time. We think a year as a pasture ornament really did the trick.

                      It may be that your guy just really needs a true break and supportive care and he will be back to work, but it also might be that you need to move on to someone that you can enjoy and move forward with.
                      When life gives you lemons. . .say &%^# you lemons! And throw those lemons back in life's face so that it will be afraid of you and won't try that crap again!


                      • #12
                        Dumb Question?

                        What is SI? Just so I can keep up, thanks!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by whicker View Post
                          Might do a lyme and tick disease snap test. I live in the epicenter for tick bourne diseases, so that is always a strong possibility for us.
                          Have you checked the threads over on the horse care forum for ulcer care? There has to be other cheaper ways to treat than gastro gold. Papaya is one that a 4* rider I know uses...
                          My vet made sure I understood that ulcerguard is the same thing. Still expensive, but much less if purchased from Smart Pak or something!
                          If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by SueCoo2 View Post
                            What is SI? Just so I can keep up, thanks!
                            SI = sacroiliac joint


                            • #15
                              My vet made sure I understood that ulcerguard is the same thing. Still expensive, but much less if purchased from Smart Pak or something!
                              Milligram for milligram, Gastrogard and Ulcerguard are almost identical in price. An eternal source of confusion. A DOSE of Ulcerguard is the same as A QUARTER DOSE of Gastrogard. The cost PER DOSE is virtually the same, it just depends how much you intend to give. I won't belabor the point; it's been discussed ad nauseam.
                              Click here before you buy.


                              • #16
                                Just a different thought.
                                Have you tried acupuncture, chiropractic work, massage or a body worker (a "body worker" is kind a combination or all 3 and I've had really good luck with the lady that I tried)

                                I found this interesting and insightful when I was looking for ulcer treatments for my horse.

                                When I treated my horse for ulcers I used this instead of ulcerguard or GG

                                I had good luck with this paste. My picky horse liked it and it is defiantly a cheaper option.
                                "Hell yes I can ride. I was riding when I fell off!"


                                • #17
                                  Oh honey... I feel your pain. I seem to be the queen of having a horse start to come back and then *bam* some issue comes up and we are back to square one or even further back than that. I was even contemplating starting a thread like this of my own!

                                  We haven't even made it past Starter yet and I've had my guy 5.5 years. And he's 12.5 years old. But for me, he's it. Once he's done, I'm done. At least w/ ownership. I can't afford to retire him and buy and support another. So I keep trying... at least for now. I think I'll know in my heart/gut when it's time to give up.

                                  His "major" list:
                                  • Dropped hip (off for a year)
                                  • Emergency Colic surgery (off for a few months and then very slowly brought him back)
                                  • Major issues w/ feet (hampered bringing him back after the hip issue and has had problems on and off numerous times)
                                  • We inject LF coffin at least yearly (he has bone spur)
                                  • Just did his hocks last week (first time) and are also doing Legend (loading and then maintenance)... not looking forward to that bill
                                  Those are the major things. Of course there have been a ton of minor things. And because of the permanent hip thing... if he's off for ANY period of time, I have to start from scratch. Keeping him fit and going is what keeps that in check.

                                  So same pattern. We are doing okay for a few months and then something happens. And then he's off. And then it takes forever to get him back to where he was before the issue. So it's very much like the movie "Groundhog Day". I just feel like all I'm ever doing is the same "bring him back" stuff.

                                  He gets body work done every 6 weeks along w/ a bunch of other stuff. His maintenance costs are high. So I don't show much. Only so much money to spend and showing is last on the list.

                                  My Vet did admit this last visit (for the hocks) that if we can't straighten him out this time, we might want to consider retirement. I've "threatened" it before but he's never agreed. So I guess in reality, this might be my guy's last shot.

                                  So again... I feel ya!


                                  • #18
                                    You can pour a fortune into the not-quite-right hothouse flower. And it's a very different story between the high end maintenance one does to keep an older horse or one with significant mileage competing comfortably at the upper levels, and the big load it sounds like you're taking on for a horse that hasn't gone BN. It's one thing if a campaigner needs some work to keep doing a pretty high-end job; it's quite enough if you can't even keep them in basic work.

                                    A couple in-between thoughts that will save you a bit here/there: first, if I have a horse who I know wants to be ulcery, I throw them on a week's course of Gastro but don't scope them. In my experience, if there's an ulcer issue, I'm going to see a change in the horse well within a week, and it saves on the vet call (plus, a week of Gastro is a bit of a no-harm, no-foul if there are no issues). Second, sometimes if I'm trying to sort through behavior vs. pain, I may try a few days of previcox/equioxx, to see if there's any difference. Again, it doesn't always help, but it can sometimes differentiate. And third, with the cold-backed issue and now the bucking, with your horse, I'd guess kissing spine. In many cases, can be managed or treated to some extent (injecting the back, shockwave, careful handling/saddling/building of muscle).

                                    But, if I were in your shoes, while I might play around with the first two above, if I were really close to my wits' end, I might be tempted to kick him out in a big field for six months and see what he looks like after that (and leg him back slowly with lots and lots of walking). Sometimes tincture of time is one of the best cures, and they sort themselves out just being horses for awhile. Has the advantage of being one of the cheaper options out there, too.


                                    • #19
                                      Just my itty bitty opinion, but I think when it takes that much maintenance to keep a horse going, it's a sign that this particular workload is too much. Why keep pushing it? Retire him and look for a fitter or younger or sturdier mount. Unless you have a six figure horse that is!
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                                      • #20
                                        SI = sacroiliac.
                                        not joint. could be soft tissue as well.

                                        Boomer had a jacked SI and I worked with it. He damaged it as a 3 year old by trying to jump out of his stall window.
                                        Sometimes it would swell up and he would need some rest.

                                        I would not totally give up, as you sound like you don't really want to.

                                        I'd give him some slippery elm to deal with ulcers and a magnesium supplement...not much else in the way of supplements other than injections here and there where needed.

                                        You've got a full body bone scan (or half at least) so you know he's fine bone wise...


                                        put him on that stuff for a month and then send him to Carsten Meyer for a month.
                                        If he was my own horse this is what I would do.
                                        Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!