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Is euthanasia a reasonable choice here?

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    Is euthanasia a reasonable choice here?

    The horse in question is a 4 year old OTTB bought as a resale project who stepped off the trailer lame. Lameness exam found osteochondrosis of both front fetlocks. Horse is bilaterally lame, flexes 3/5 on both fetlocks, and has limited range of motion. Equioxx and pads have made no difference. Lame and uncomfortable under saddle and increasingly angry/sour about moving forward. Owner doesn't want to inject a 4 year old.

    The owner has limited remaining funds and is concerned about finding a low-level home, as the horse isn't even sound W/T. Owner cannot keep horse for financial reasons. When (is it?) appropriate to broach this with a vet? What would you do in this situation?

    #2
    I'd euthanize - either at the barn or consider donating horse to a vet school for if there is one close enough.

    Good long term homes for horses like this are practically non-existent. Most of the alternatives are not pleasant.

    I'd bring it up with the vet sooner than later. If the vet is unwilling to euthanize, start looking for a more understanding vet.

    Comment


      #3
      Yes. If the horse is not comfortable, and cannot be ridden, the owner has limited options but I am 100% behind euthanasia if it keeps an unusable, unsound animal out of the slaughter pipeline. When is it appropriate to talk to vet? Now. No reason to delay it.

      Comment


        #4
        Chances are the horse was injected on the track, and if it's injections or euthanasia - I'd try them. That said, I don't think it's unreasonable to broach the subject with the vet now. Is he a surgical candidate, assuming someone was willing?

        Comment

          Original Poster

          #5
          The horse is not a surgical candidate, unfortunately (no chips or fragments). The concern with injections is the difficulty of finding a home willing to maintain fetlock injections for a pleasure horse at 4.

          Comment


            #6
            without hesitation I would euthanize. 3/5 the horse sounds miserable
            _\\]
            -- * > hoopoe
            Procrastinate NOW
            Introverted Since 1957

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              #7
              I would absolutely euthanize. It sounds like horse would be miserable as a pasture pet even. I’m guessing he probably isn’t trained enough to advertise as a walking only, trail riding home (if he even came sound enough for that) so realistically there are no career prospects for him. Horses have no ability to think into future and imagine what might have been. All they understand is their current circumstances and it doesn’t sound like he’s enjoying life.

              I would hope your vet would be understanding. Otherwise contact another vet.

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                #8
                I've had to do this.

                Gorgeous OTTB. 6 years old. Thick, jumped a 10, brave as hell.

                He foundered. 6 grams of bute could not even touch the pain he was in. He was also 16.3hh, a cribber, and a hard keeper.

                I brought him to the local teaching hospital and had him euthed. I caught 20 kinds of hell for doing it, too. Funny though, no one who wanted to give me crap was willing to take him.

                It sucks with a young horse. But the alternative is a lifetime of pain. Help the owners do the right thing - it's the #1 responsibility we as owners hold... a dignified departure.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Yes, a reasonable choice in the circumstances.

                  G.
                  Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

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                    #10
                    I've done it, too, endlessclimb. Long story short, we couldn't get his laminitis under control, either. He had battled founder multiple times, had Cushings and been through colic surgery. Hardest thing I've ever done, but the only way I could keep him from being in pain again.
                    So, yes, OP, I would say that is a reasonable option to bring up with the vet. Sad, but probably the kindest end for him.
                    "Radar, the man's ex-cavalry: if he sees four flies having a meeting, he knows they're talking about a horse!" Cptn. BJ Hunnicutt, M*A*S*H Season 4, Episode "Dear Mildred"

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                      #11
                      1) Yes, euthanasia is always a responsible and reasonable choice if the alternative is that the animal suffers. Many good thoughts for your friend while she deals with this.

                      2) By osteochondrosis, do you mean osteochondrosis diseccans, aka OCD? And if so, have the rads been evaluated for surgery? I know you say limited remaining funds, but when a horse I vetted recently showed OCD in both hocks, my vet consulted with a surgeon for me and I was really surprised at how low the cost was. Not peanuts, but definitely within the realm of what I would consider reasonable to pay. No idea if this is an option - either physically for the horse or financially for your friend, but thought I'd bring it up based on my recent experience.

                      Comment

                        Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thank you for the advice. The horse really does have a quiet temperament and would probably be appropriate for a walking only trail home, but the question lingers---is the horse quiet because of pain? How painful is walking when trotting is clearly uncomfortable? Who would be willing to pay for expensive shoes and pain meds for a trail horse? The horse also stumbles frequently under saddle, which negates trail riding.

                        It's sad, because this horse was a horrible racehorse, so it seems like an unnecessary waste of life.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I certainly think euthanasia is reasonable, and probably the responsible choice, in a 4yo with this many issues. 3/5 lame is no way for a horse to live. And his options as a 4yo OTTB in a long term walk trail home are probably slim to none. A hard decision that none of us really wants to make, but it definitely sounds like your best option with the current set of circumstances.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            It sucks, but yes euthanasia is definitely reasonable. I think we all need to stop focusing on age, and more on quality of life. I don't think it should matter if he's 4 or 24. It sounds like he's uncomfortable all the time, and chances are he'll end up in a not-so-great situation down the road.
                            I would never give up control of a horse with soundness issues (physical or mental). Either vow to keep them until it's time, or euth now.

                            Remember, they don't know what euthanasia and a quiet ending is. But they do know what pain is.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by GoodTimes View Post
                              I don't think it should matter if he's 4 or 24. It sounds like he's uncomfortable all the time, and chances are he'll end up in a not-so-great situation down the road.
                              I agree that the quality of life should be the basis for the decision, not the age. I know of a couple OTTBs who have found great long-term homes even though they haven't been ridden in decades. Despite good care, they still look to be in at least some pain daily. I know I wouldn't hesitate to euth in this case.

                              Here is where age may factor in- if you are assessing surgery or other expensive therapies and the chances of a good recovery, which usually better with a young horse than an old one. It doesn't sound like this is the case here.

                              "So relax! Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK? Fun goddamnit." Crash Davis; Bull Durham

                              Comment

                                Original Poster

                                #16
                                I wanted to update this and ask for further advice. I really appreciate all of the replies. In full disclosure, this is my horse. I am feeling embarrassed about this because I have already put down one young horse (although I do not believe that was at all the wrong decision, but it sure feels shitty to be in the same place).

                                The vet came out for a lameness recheck and within two minutes of mounting, the horse suddenly reared, and I fell. Up until now, this horse has been extremely easy to handle (ridden bareback, ridden around construction, etc), albeit a little balky and sour, and this seems like a pain reaction, but it scared the crap out of me. I have been on some hairy rides before, but rearing is one thing I will not do.

                                The vet wanted to block the horse, as it originally flexed positive on both upper and lower joints (although only fetlock rads were abnormal). Horse blocked to fetlocks. The vet's best recommendation is prostride, and she believes the horse has a decent prognosis. (not surgery- osteochondrosis is like OCD without the flaps/fragments, so there's nothing to remove. It's a similar developmental disease)

                                My problem? Now I am scared and I know I will not get on this horse again. I have a full-time job, and the risk isn't worth it to me. The vet didn't bring up euthanasia as an option, and I feel like a horrible person for considering it.

                                But I feel backed into a corner. I am going through a divorce, and I can't afford board forever. I won't get back on this horse, which means paying a trainer. I couldn't *not* disclose the rear to a future owner, so I am not sure how I would ever sell this horse, even if the Prostride did work.

                                I am thinking about contacting TB rescues, who with their experience and reach may have a shot or just biting the bullet, doing the prostride, and then sending her to a trainer. I really feel stuck and overwhelmed. I am really trying to do the "right thing" here, but having already drained my bank account on another young horse, it's really hard to do it again, especially when it's a project I don't have an emotional connection with.

                                Hit me with the truth.

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  That sucks for both you and the horse. Part of the problem is you don't have much of a history on this horse: it's possible the fetlocks aren't the only issue. The rearing would make me think there may be a back/neck issue as well? Or just that prolonged soreness has caused other secondary issues...who knows?

                                  If it makes you feel better, you could see if a rescue would take her, and could even sponsor her for a bit? Otherwise I would consider euthanasia. Vets vary on their comfort level with euthanizing a potentially pasture sound horse: how good of a relationship do you have with the vet? I don't think a person should put themselves in financial distress on a high risk equine: I don't think the horse likes being in pain either.
                                  Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    IMO no, putting horse down is a cop out in this situation. You made this situation yourself and no one forced you into it. Try to do right by this animal first. It's not his fault. Also I think it's really crappy to lie about the circumstances and try to justify actions by getting strangers an internet forum to tell you it's okay. I don't think it is and you asked. I've just lost all respect here and will not follow further. Poor horse.

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Seriously?
                                      A 4 year old horse has issues that may not even enable it to be pasture comfortable and it's a question?
                                      Horse sounds like long term heartbreak. Give her some great days and euthanize. Get through your hard times, and try again.
                                      If this were a 14 year old or a 24 year old, this wouldn't be a question.
                                      Mare has a poor prognosis for long term soundness, why waste resources on this one?
                                      Animals don't fear death, they fear pain and discomfort.
                                      "The Friesian syndrome... a mix between Black Beauty disease and DQ Butterfly farting ailment." Alibi_18

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by TWH Girl View Post
                                        IMO no, putting horse down is a cop out in this situation. You made this situation yourself and no one forced you into it. Try to do right by this animal first. It's not his fault. Also I think it's really crappy to lie about the circumstances and try to justify actions by getting strangers an internet forum to tell you it's okay. I don't think it is and you asked. I've just lost all respect here and will not follow further. Poor horse.
                                        Excuse me?

                                        The only thing the OP lied about was who the horse belonged to, which I have no issues with since she doesn't want the judgement. She's getting a divorce, she has a lame 4yo that she's now afraid of because it's rearing out of pain. Now she's running out of money to both continue to attempt to fix, train, and sell this horse. Blowing through Equioxx is my vet's line in the sand for euthanasia.

                                        Personally, I think that a horse that rears in response to a pain issue might not ever rear again when that pain issue is resolved so while I might mention it to a buyer I wouldn't consider it a big deal.

                                        However, it sounds there's a lot more involved than a simple issue and with limited funds on a 4yo the OP is making the right decision. Who wants a 4yo that's had extensive lameness issues? It's not like the horse is a schoolmaster. She's running out of money for board, training, and vet work.
                                        http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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