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Am I Making the Right Decision - Retirement

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  • Am I Making the Right Decision - Retirement

    I think I am, I guess, I'm just feeling sad about it tonight and maybe need some reassurance.

    OTTB mare, got her last year, she was lame at the time. Long story that doesn't really matter now. She has been lame on the LH (and subsequently sore in the hind end and back) for the better part of the past year.

    2 vets and many lameness evals later, we finally figured out that she has some calcification of her sesamoid and an old injury to her suspensory in her LH. Vet was guarded but saw her go under saddle, and sometimes she can look pretty ok! So she said work her when she's sound but back off when she's lame, not much else we could do given it was an old injury.

    She was looking sounder after the holidays, so she went back to work 3x a week. Got on her Friday, she took a misstep, she is dead lame again. It is the same cycle, over and over.

    At this point I think it is more fair to retire her and stop asking her to come back into work.

    She is 8. She could probably do a light use scenario, leadline, therapy, walking and a little trot here and there. If I can't find something like that, I will find somewhere to pasture board her and she can live a life of leisure. She quite likes people and enjoys having a little job, and being fussed over... She is sweet, easy, kind, lovely temperament. I think that is what breaks my heart!

    I know for certain retiring her is the best choice, somehow it is still hard. I think I had so many hopes for her so it is difficult to let those go...
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

  • #2
    i'm sorry, that sux. you might try putting her to pasture for a year or two and then see how she is doing. sometimes just being turned out can work miracles.

    if nothing else she can lead a useful life as a companion


    • #3
      I am so sorry. It is so frustrating not knowing what your horse will feel like on any given day and the heartbreak of the "one step forward, two steps back" soundness issues.

      I have a boarder who has a 6 year old mare with intermittent soundness issues. The mare is a really beautiful mover and when she's sound, you could see the potential in her. She is just a really nice horse. The boarder made the difficult decision to retire her after going through much of what you went through.

      It's just so tough and I really feel for what you are going through.


      • Original Poster

        Thanks guys. It is hard because she is perfect in every way... minus being lame most of the time. Mkevent you are right-- it is hard not knowing on any given day how she might look. And on the days she looks "good" and I get on her, there have been too many times where 10-15 minutes in, she takes a funny step, and it's all over.

        Whatever happens I will be sure she does not end up in a bad spot, whether she is retired with me or with someone else. I would only let her go to the best home/care possible, and am committed to just pasture boarding her even if it means my own riding will be limited. This has been such a heartbreak I don't even want another horse anyway.
        We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


        • #5
          My OTTB mare is the same, she is 13 and has been retied since 10. For much the same reason. I got her off the track and she had bowed her tendon in her last race. 9 months of stall rest, daily wrapping etc she seemed pretty sound. Started her on a bit of turn out in a small pen, worked her up to the big pasture. She seemed fine and was running and playing. Started riding her, and she would be great for about 3-6 months, then have some mystery ouchy in her rf. Vet can't find anything but can see that shes off, hoof bruise? reagravated the tendon? (the tendon does show scarring on ultrasound) really don't know. Stall rest to light turnout etc. Start her back riding, 3-6 months later mystery lameness again. Rinse repeat.
          I just didn't think it was fair to her to continue aggrevating an injury, and although I loved riding her, I retired her. She is now my big dog.


          • #6
            I have a mare that I bought at age three and she was retired at age 4 I think that I actually went through a short greiving process. I bought her to do reining on and she turned out to be pregnant. Once her son was born I started riding her again and it was quickly realized something was very wrong with her. X-rays showed bi-partite navicular.....an instant death sentance to her riding career. I still have her and she is 12 years old now and a big fat pasture pet.

            It is very hard but sometimes we need to do what is best for them!!!
            RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
            May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
            RIP San Lena Peppy
            May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010


            • Original Poster

              It is hard! I think letting go of "the dream" and all the things you hope and wish you will do with them that is hard.

              Some would say don't buy a horse with any hope or romantic notion of what tomorrow may bring... but shoot, how do you do that? I've not learned it yet.
              We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


              • #8
                Oh, Flash, I am so sorry to hear this news.

                I know you're familiar with my struggles with Blush, and that I retired her young as well--she was about 11 when I finally called it quits. The experience of diagnosis, treatment and maintenance only to still have a lame horse nearly did me in for horses all together, and I took several years off, only returning to it last spring.

                Blush has done just fine with her life of leisure--turned out full time, barefoot, pretty basic on grain and supplements. We watch her pretty carefully and make some concessions for her because of her condition, but she really appears to be pain free and happy.

                I know you really like your mare and she's done well for you when she's been sound. I don't think anyone would question you or judge you for retiring her at this point. But if you're feeling doubt at all about retirement, have you considered sending her info off to Cornell (or another referral hospital) for one last review before you throw in the towel? Something like shockwave or IRAP or PRP is costly, but probably less costly than a new horse and perhaps one round might be worth a shot? A Hail Mary, so to speak?


                • #9
                  FG, I feel for you... you have had a run of bad luck with horses and you are due some karma for sure. I have no doubt the mare will enjoy her retirement... but I am sad for you.
                  Our big clyde x mare was basically retired at age 12 due to ring bone and now, 9 years later, Previcox on board, she is much sounder... she is still retired but does get a weekly hack and is happy.
                  My DIL's OTTB mare just stretched a tendon on her first week in t/o. Stall rest for her since... she is ok as long as her boyfriend is across the aisle from her. Vet said she will be fine for restarting soon... I am afraid my DIL is too anxious to get back on (pregnancy, injury... it's almost been a year) and I really hope she will give her time so we don't get into that sound/lame cycle.
                  Best of luck to you... I know you will do right by your mare.


                  • #10
                    So sorry! I agree that a lengthy session with Dr. Green sometimes works miracles, so I wouldn't give up all hope. (((((hugs)))))
                    Flip a coin. It's not what side lands that matters, but what side you were hoping for when the coin was still in the air.

                    You call it boxed wine. I call it carboardeaux.


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks all for the support and kindness. Even though I know it is the right thing to do it makes it hard, given her age, and how much I enjoy her.

                      Simkie I've appreciated your advice throughout. We've kicked around the idea of trying PRP but it's a gamble, and I think I'm done gambling. I do think there is something else going on beyond what we found in the LH, that we may never really diagnose, if that makes any sense.

                      I've put out the feelers to find her a new living situation, so we'll see what comes of it.
                      We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                      • #12
                        As someone who is possibly going to have to make this same decision with my 11 year old mare I feel for you.
                        Sounds like you have done all you can do and are placing her as the number one priority.
                        Maybe some time off being a horse in the field will help her out and you can eventually do some light riding with her.
                        I wish you all the best! At least she has a kind owner who is willing to hold onto her and make sure she leads a good long life!
                        Free and Forward Motion through Massage Therapy


                        • #13
                          FG, I have read about your struggles with Fancy here and on TOC. In my mind, you are absolutely making the right call. I hope time brings you peace.


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks Chezzie, I appreciate that.

                            Hey Simkie how is your lovely Wekiva Springs baby?
                            We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                            • #15
                              You can always revisit it at a later date. Hopefully time will work it's magic.
                              McDowell Racing Stables

                              Home Away From Home


                              • #16
                                You have a good memory, Flash, although she is a grandbaby instead of by him She is doing very well after this crazy chain of events and has been off of the big antibiotics for a couple weeks now, with (knock on wood) no sign of recurrence. And she managed to escape the massive strangles outbreak at the barn (still knocking on wood!) She is growing finally! I'm still planning on putting about 30 days on her in late summer, then she will go back out for winter and come into real work next spring.

                                I totally get, too, just being done with trying to figure it out and gambling on things that may or may not work. When Blush went lame again, after all that work, I was also done. I just couldn't take anymore.

                                But also: don't lose all hope. A year or two out being a horse could do wonders, especially if she is truly OUT on acreage. Blush, while she's still not SOUND, does look better now, especially in this last year since she's had room to roam. She's not sound enough to put into real work, but I'd say she's sound enough to dink around on, and I am seriously considering using her to pony my others around at the walk, as she's the most broke horse I have, and she's acting like she wants a job. Time does heal.