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When do you throw in the towel?

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  • When do you throw in the towel?

    I'm so frustrated and seeking a little advice. My 16 yr. old TB hunter, which I bred and raised, is the love and horse of a lifetime. Unfortuntely, he's suffered two unrelated tendon injuries, which I've successfully brought him back from, each requiring a year of rest/rehab.

    Over the past few months, he started having trouble w/ lead changes and the vet diagnosed him w/ a misaligned pelvic. This is a highly respected vet working on him, but after six visits, which included adjustments, accupuncture, and massage therapy, along w/ lots of long, low trotting, he's not better. He has weeks were he's good, but the closer he gets to his next vet visit, the worse it becomes.

    Now, there is fear that there is something more serious going on back there, such as a tear in the ligment around the sacroiliac area, which would require another 6 months of rehab. At what point do you think that it's time to consider retiring him? If this latest issue ends up being an actual tear in the ligament, it'll mean that he's been off work, due to injury, almost three of the last four years. I don't want to jump ahead of myself, but I also want to be realistic and do what is best for him. He's such a wonderful, talented horse that loves his job. That is what makes this so hard.

    Have others here experienced similar situations and if so, what did you do?

  • #2
    brought 3 year old horse home on trial
    horse tries to jump out of stall window. almost cuts front leg off and screws up SI ligament.
    3 months of rest with 1/2 cast on the front leg--then I can break him
    Must buy broken horse.

    1 year of riding a showing

    1 year of on and off again due to swollen jaw/mouth when molars start causing issues

    3 months of riding

    3 months off due to bone bruise on front leg

    1 year of riding + 1 month off due to torque of SI lig just before the Championships

    2 years off
    re tear of the SI lig
    bruising of the navicular, P2, and coffin bones
    torn suspensory and sesmoidal lig
    (maybe I should rename him George of the Jungle--um--watch out for that tree?)

    My horse is 8 and I've had him in use for 3 years. My plug will never be pulled. If I didn't spend all of my money on him it would just go down the trap of some other horse's mouth.
    : )

    hang in there.
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

    Comment


    • #3
      If he's your love and horse of a lifetime, I'd be inclined to hang in there with the acu and chiro for awhile longer. They can take awhile to really work.

      My mare had a torn suspensory (hind/low) and after I rehabbed her, I just turned her out for 2 years to be a pasture potato (I've got too many horses and was showing another one). Big mistake. When I finally brought her back into work, she was so uneven. Her canter to the left was a mess and really going to the left at all, she felt wobbly. It took about 5 chiro treatments, plus three or four acupuncture sessions before she started "holding" the adjustments. (She'd do the same thing your horse does -- feel good right after treatment, then gradually go back to her old crooked/wobbly ways.) In all, it's been about 14 months and she's finally back to her old self consistently.

      Since your horse isn't as out of shape as mine was, I'd think he wouldn't take as a long.

      Good luck.
      __________________________
      "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
      the best day in ten years,
      you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thank you both....I appreciate your feedback. MP, I sent you a PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          If a horse keeps reinjuring himself you have to ask yourself why. The first thing I would investigate is the trimming/shoes even if your vet and everyone else says it's fine. Horses that need constant bodywork maintenance to stay straight have something else going on and the logical place to start searching is the bottom, which supports them.

          Comment


          • #6
            No useful advice, but just some encouragement to hang in there, and keep on keeping your guy comfortable.
            Approved helmet: Every time; every ride.
            "When a sport gets to be predictable it ceases to be fun." - RAR's wise brother

            Comment


            • #7
              I certainly can sympathize with you. My 17 year old mare has been one lameness recovery after another: High suspensory strain, annular ligament surgeries/shockwave, SI joint etc. I used to joke that she was the "Comeback kid". She has been on progressively lighter duty these past 2 years and this year I finally proclaimed that she is retired to being my "pet". Her hock arthritis has become progressively worse; the upper joint is involved and does not fuse or respond well to injections. In all honesty, she seems happier than she has ever been. She lives in a pasture, has a boyfriend and still gets her daily grooming and hand walks with me. Retiring her was made easier for me because I have a new young horse, but it was still sort of a sad realization that we are both getting older.

              It sounds like you are on the right path with your horse, so I would also be inclined to give it one more try.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Androcles View Post
                If a horse keeps reinjuring himself you have to ask yourself why. The first thing I would investigate is the trimming/shoes even if your vet and everyone else says it's fine. Horses that need constant bodywork maintenance to stay straight have something else going on and the logical place to start searching is the bottom, which supports them.
                I would also look at the trim/shoeing. It certainly may not be the cause, but it could be exacerbating already-existing issues, or it may just not be doing him any favors. My ex-farrier tried to tell me that the way a horse was trimmed would have minimal effect on movement and would not affect structures above the hocks/knees. We agreed to disagree and I found someone new. Horse is now sound, happy and back in work with no problems. In fact she looks better now than she did when I bought her.

                So if you have any concerns at all about his feet, I'd urge you to look into that now.
                Full-time bargain hunter.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by onelanerode View Post
                  I would also look at the trim/shoeing. It certainly may not be the cause, but it could be exacerbating already-existing issues, or it may just not be doing him any favors.
                  Another possibility is your rehab plan. I think it often takes a long time for horses to build up their musculature/bone density after a long layup.

                  I am not a horse, so take this with an appropriate grain of salt: But I just came back from an injury that kept me from my usual exercise routine for only a few weeks. It's taken much longer than I ever would have guessed to return to my original level of fitness--and now that I'm starting to feel like myself again, I'm also starting to feel shin splints and other signs that what felt like a slow and steady return to activity was actually too fast.

                  (On the upside, this experience has made me feel less annoyed about all the months of walking my suspensory rehab horse last year.)

                  It sounds like your horse has spent more time resting than working in recent years, so a lack of fitness *could* be contributing to his repeat injuries. Or you could just be the victim of bad luck.

                  I realize that this does not answer your original question. And I extend my sympathies to you for all these problems. I know how stressful it is to have a lame horse. Good luck!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Been there, AM there, and mine is only 11 Including 2 severed/ruptured tendons.

                    Vet is coming this week to help me figure out what's wrong THIS time.

                    You can cry on my shoulder if I can cry on yours
                    ______________________________
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I am so with you!
                      Facing a similar problem with my 18 yo who I have owned since he was 4. Even for a horse, he is particularly talented at self-destruction. Having survived numerous problems with his front leg including check and suspensory injuries and a cracked cannon bone, he moved on to new territory. Last November he developed a lump on his hind tendon. He has been resting and doing shockwave therapy. Started w/t and didnt seem right. Had vet check and he is not sure if it is the tendon, or the hock, or maybe the stifle or all three! He wants to do blocks.
                      I am also wondering if he is just so unsound that I should find him a pleasant (and cheaper) place to retire. Soooo frustrating!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I retired my beloved a/a hunter when I felt like I'd peeled all the layers of the onion and addressed what could be addressed, and then starting seeing a cycle/pattern of residual issues. With the benefit of hindsight, I could have had a really fancy replacement with what I spent on vet expenses, farrier, board, rehab and re-training, but there is no point in time prior to what I described above that, when I was going through it, I would have felt comfortable pulling the plug and living with the what-if. It is different in every situation, but I think you have to go with your gut on what is still a reasonable avenue to pursue and wait out, and what is starting to be a reach and maybe is the point in time to stop. Also, factor in the mental and emotional exhaustion - I was drained by the whole experience in my case, and ended up taking a break from riding because I was not ready to commit to my next horse yet. Good luck - it is a painful process to go through.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Thanks everyone! I think it helps to have shoulders to cry on and experiences to share. I don't feel I've exhausted all my avenues, and I plan to let this new vet see him in a couple weeks and go from there. On the selfish side of things, it's hard because I can't afford to keep two horses, so when my guy is 'out', I can't show or do much. I'm an advanced rider, so my trainer allows me to ride any of the sales/green horses or whatever, but none of them can do the divisions I like to do, let alone be as competive as my veteran campaigner. But, that's life, and I'm just whining.

                          Good luck to everyone!

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Update

                            Well, I have good news.....the problem is not the ligament near the SI joint, but rather his left hock. Considering he just had his hocks checked several months ago, he may have torqued it or something, but it's causing him quite a bit of discomfort through the back and right shoulder. Anyway, the vet feels it's not a huge deal and worse case he'll need injected. The hip area that the other vet has been working on actually looks pretty good. It's nice to know all the money and time wasn't spent in vain.

                            I'm quite relieved we aren't looking at another lengthy lay off. Sigh. Thanks again for everyone's thoughts and best wishes. Hopefully, we'll be back to normal before too long!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by chawley View Post
                              Well, I have good news.....the problem is not the ligament near the SI joint, but rather his left hock. Considering he just had his hocks checked several months ago, he may have torqued it or something, but it's causing him quite a bit of discomfort through the back and right shoulder. Anyway, the vet feels it's not a huge deal and worse case he'll need injected. The hip area that the other vet has been working on actually looks pretty good. It's nice to know all the money and time wasn't spent in vain.

                              I'm quite relieved we aren't looking at another lengthy lay off. Sigh. Thanks again for everyone's thoughts and best wishes. Hopefully, we'll be back to normal before too long!
                              If that's the case you should definitely check the medial/lateral balance of the hind feet. as well as the flight path of those feet and how they land.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                That is great news about your horse! I don't know what your boarding arrangements are but if he is in a stall at all I would suggest trying to let him live outside. Horses seem to be much sturdier from injuries when they live out of stalls. I think the constant movement makes them stronger and more limber. Just a thought. I know there are many places that pasture board is just not an option. Good luck!
                                “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
                                ? Rumi






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