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When do you stop?

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  • When do you stop?

    When is enough, enough? When do you decide to do no more?

    Case in point. Gus is still lame. He reinjured his right stifle two weeks ago this coming Wednesday (so like 10 days ago or whatnot).

    Vet was out this past Monday an ended up injecting both stifles. She noted that both stifles seemed painful upon palpation. I think the BO said the vet found some fluid in the right stifle. She injected with Legend and a very small dose of some sort of steriod (don't usually use steriods because of Gus's IR issues).

    Tuesday we had HORRIBLE weather (ie 40 mph substained winds and gusts over 60 mph). Gus is pasture boarded but the BO brought him (and everyone else) inside for the day... he was then turned out again on Wednesday.

    Sometime either Wednesday or Thursday (heck, could have been even on Tuesday), Gus got past one of the barn workers and ended up running up and down the lane between the paddocks and barn.

    So, when I got to the barn on Friday to see how he was doing, he was still lame. This time on both hind legs. He "bunny hops" at the trot. Heck, it's almost a skipping movement. He's still on bute daily for the time being and still on pasture board. Unfortunately during the lovely wind storm on Tuesday, the BO lost another three run-ins (lost the same ones back in August during another freak wind storm). One of those three run-ins is Gus's. He's been on private turnout since he got back home but now is out with an old "buddy" persay... they get along well enough.

    But when do you call it all quits? When do you decide to not do anything more? I've had Gus for 10 years. He's been lame for 9 out of those 10 years. Not all 12 months out of the year, but there hasn't been but one year where he's been sound. It's nearly always the stifles that are the issue.

    I'm just frustrated. I'm not holding out much hope for these stifle injections. Usually they work within a couple days...

    Any words of encouragement? Suggestions?
    Proud owner of Gus & Gringo.
    See G2's blog
    Photos

  • #2
    When you say "stop" do you mean euthanize or just stop treating the problem?

    With that kind of history (lame 9 out of 10 years) he may have some kind of conformational or genetic component that could be adding to his chronic unsoundness. Have you ever had any diagnostics done? Bone scan, rads of the stifles?

    If it were me, after this amount of time, I'd probably retire him as a pasture ornament or light trail horse. If he was chronically in pain and I couldn't manage it I would strongly consider euthanasia. But this is really a personal decision.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      No. Not euthanasia. Just stop treating the issues.

      Fortunately for him, we've always been able to manage the pain. Typically the injections will tide him over for a few months and then we just inject again and the cycle repeats. The reason for the stifle issues are sorta two-fold. He originally injured his stifle the first summer I had him... hyperextended it on the lunge line. Saw it happen. Recovered just fine with time off. Over the years he kept having issues in the spring with his stifle, just didn't know at the time it was the stifle.

      Back in early '08 he really screwed up his right stifle. To the point where we truly thought "this is it". BO talked to be about all the things we don't like to talk about, but she let me know that I could bury him there at the barn...

      We took him then to a specialist and found out that he had torn quite a few ligaments in that stifle. In the process of recovery and rehab we had a lot of set backs and he ended up tweaking the left stifle again.

      Threw him out to pasture in '09 through this spring. He was AMAZING. Being outside all the time has really helped him a lot. However, bad footing is really his downfall - that and running around like an idiot.

      Right now we can control the pain. He's very comfortable walking around. He looks and seems sound at the walk. He's resting the right hind more then normal... but seems otherwise fine.

      FWIW, he is basically "retired". We still work him to help him from deteriorating completely but it's just dressage work and trail riding, when he's sound.

      I just want to know when people know it's time to stop treating and just let them be. I think it's time... But what sucks even more is that his "replacement" is also lame. Phyically and mentally. And Gringo has been like that since I got him. Nearly four years ago.
      Proud owner of Gus & Gringo.
      See G2's blog
      Photos

      Comment


      • #4
        Sheesh, I feel really bad for you. Such horrible horse luck. If you can stop the treatments and he isn't in too much pain, then that would probably be what I would do. I'm assuming you've already tried Legend and all of the joint supps. The only other thing I can think of is stem cell treatment or shockwave, but it sounds like he's just had enough at this point. If it was costing me a ton of money in injections every few months just to keep him comfortable in the pasture, then I would probably go for euth at that point. But again, everyone is going to have a different outlook on this.

        I say stop the treatments and see what happens. You can always start up again if you feel you need to.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Meadow36 View Post
          If it was costing me a ton of money in injections every few months just to keep him comfortable in the pasture, then I would probably go for euth at that point. But again, everyone is going to have a different outlook on this.

          I say stop the treatments and see what happens. You can always start up again if you feel you need to.
          I second Meadow's thoughts. One of my geldings has very bad arthritis and ligament calcification in his right stifle, complimented by lighter arthritis in the left. We're keeping him pasture sound/comfortable right now with bute (vet doesn't think injections/legend/etc will help enough) but he's starting to have stomach issues from the bute. Plus, the bute makes him feel so much better that he frolics which then makes him lamer. It's a vicious cycle.

          We're leaning towards putting him down before the winter weather gets to be too much for him. It's sad as he's worth his weight in gold as a trail horse, but it doesn't seem fair to him to keep him going just for us.

          Comment


          • #6
            I would do what you need to do to keep him comfortable. If he is sound at the walk, and lives out with a quiet horse, you are probably doing enough. If he isn't sound at the walk and able to trot a short distance if he needs to, you need to do more veterinary management or put him down.

            We have a 22 year old who is always on the slippery slope. We retired him two years ago because of his navicular and heaves. Periodically, his navicular gets so bad that he can't walk without pain. After $600 worth of navicular bursa injections from a vet surgeon, his navicular disease is usually not a problem for 6-12 months. Therefore, it is worth injecting him. Last spring, he fractured a splint bone and made a mess of his suspensory. For several days, he could not walk more than a few feet at a time, and was in a lot of pain despite Banamine. We almost put him down. Then, he started getting better. Now, he is usually sound at the walk. As long as he is comfortable, happy, eating, and reasonably sound at the walk, we are doing enough. When his navicular acts up, he is in such pain that he can't walk, can't eat, and needs his injections.

            Comment


            • #7
              At some point, for your own sanity, I think it is ok to kind of put a stop to the expectation that the horse will someday improve. And thus you stop the merry-go-round of trying to find the magic pill. Because clearly, there is none, and some horses are just never going to be "right" again, if they ever were to start with.

              Instead of worrying about what he was yesterday, or what he might be tomorrow, and just take him for what he is TODAY. Enjoy his company. Ride him when he seems sound enough to ride. Leave him when he's not.

              Don't feel guilty. As long as the horse is not suffering, and you've exhausted your options, it is ok to let it go....
              We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thanks guys. It just sucks. All the way around. I know you should really look at today, and not at yesterday. But he was doing so well. We were back to schooling 1st and 2nd Level stuff. Did an awesome show the second weekend in October and scored like mid-60s in Training Level, Test 3. I was so proud of him. I guess I'll need to keep those memories alive.

                It just sucks, majorly, to have two horses now that I can't do much with. I'm wondering now about bringing Gringo back to the other barn this spring and seeing if we can get him going again under saddle. The problem is his fractured coffin bone causes issues from time to time (so not sure if he'll be sound enough to start again under saddle) and he is just mentally crazy. I don't trust him.

                As much as I love riding the lesson ponies (haha my favorite is the 29 year old Arab who is a great little mare... has competed successfully at Third Level but now just carts all us wannabes around) it isn't the same as riding my own horse. Ya know? And to have two horses that I can't do anything with... well, I can groom and love on them, but Gus has never been one to like to be groomed. He's strictly a "lets get down to business pronto so I can go back to eating again" horse.

                Uggh. I have exhausted everything available to me, in my budget. He just had a Legend injection two weeks ago (just prior to the stifle reinjury) and has been on an every other month program since August. I was just starting him back on Legend after not being on it for months.

                Life just sucks.
                Proud owner of Gus & Gringo.
                See G2's blog
                Photos

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'm sorry, appychik. We went through a similiar situation with our second horse (after our first was diagnosed navicular within the first 6 months we owned him and had to become a pasture pet). Sounds like you'll make the right decision, but it is one that is personal and that you'll come to on your own terms. I can certainly sympathize and wish you the best in your decision.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    9 years of lameness and 1 year sound? I'd say it's time to start shopping for a good retirement farm and find yourself a horse you can enjoy. I have a similar horse. It was a relief when I finally decided to call it quits, retire him. I leased a nice sound horse and am having so much fun.

                    You sound like a super horse owner, and kudos to you for trying to do right by your buddy. Hugs.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We, long ago, had a quarter horse. We got him at age seven and he was still a stallion. We took care of the problem, LOL, and he was my older daughters horse. We did local shows and just had fun with him. He could trail ride anywhere......along highways, swim, with deer running, and do a little horse show and trot that slow qh. trot.

                      At one time he got injured. Never was sound behind. But we didnt let him slow down. He was pasture sound, and we did ride him for fun at times. The last time I rode him he was 34 yrs old (YES HE WAS). He was still lame behind, but oh how much fun he always had going out with us. We aided him in crossing over shortly after at almost 35 yrs old. Never had been "sick" a day in his life until the end.

                      So, my advice is to just let him be. Stop doing anything to him and see how it plays out. Hope this is good advice, but I know we sure did enjoy our boy until the very end. sandy
                      Sandy
                      www.sugarbrook.com
                      hunter/jumper ponies

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I hung in there for 8 years, and the best going we ever had was the first 6 months in 09 (the only time he was ever sound long enough to make it seem like we were making progress). I retired him in June this year, we're both happier that way. I did the math -- all the things that he needed to even try to keep him rideable (gastrogard, chiropractor every 6-8 weeks, allergy meds for his breathing, joint supplements etc.) were enough to pay for another horse, preferably one that actually likes to work. And in August I got my new horse, 'cause I couldn't stand not having goals with my own horse!

                        Good luck, I can so relate to your frustration.
                        "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I keep writing novels in response to the OP and really all I want to say is yes, I have called it quits. I retired a 10 year old arab in September because I just could not get and keep him sound enough to do anything. He loves it and after I got over being bummed, I am much happier. I am no longer constantly checking to see if he is better, worse, the same, etc. I hope if you go this route you get some peace.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Sugarbrook View Post
                            We, long ago, had a quarter horse. We got him at age seven and he was still a stallion. We took care of the problem, LOL, and he was my older daughters horse. We did local shows and just had fun with him. He could trail ride anywhere......along highways, swim, with deer running, and do a little horse show and trot that slow qh. trot.

                            At one time he got injured. Never was sound behind. But we didnt let him slow down. He was pasture sound, and we did ride him for fun at times. The last time I rode him he was 34 yrs old (YES HE WAS). He was still lame behind, but oh how much fun he always had going out with us. We aided him in crossing over shortly after at almost 35 yrs old. Never had been "sick" a day in his life until the end.

                            So, my advice is to just let him be. Stop doing anything to him and see how it plays out. Hope this is good advice, but I know we sure did enjoy our boy until the very end. sandy
                            I agree, turn him out and let him be.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              One very easy option is to just let him be a pasture puff until the Spring Or for 18 months. Then see what you have

                              I feel for you, I really, really do
                              ______________________________
                              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                That's really bad luck. But I just wanted to add that it can take up to three weeks for a horse to recover from stifle injections (taking 2.5 to the full 3 weeks seems common IME). IME they can often look worse in the process, so maybe the latest still has a chance to turn around. Your horse is lucky to have you.

                                Comment

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