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Anyone else completely heartbroken at horse needing to retire..& other questions.

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  • Anyone else completely heartbroken at horse needing to retire..& other questions.

    Please tell me I'm not the only one who has felt absolutely heartbroken when their horse needed to retire from riding....

    I've only had my horse for less than a year and a half, but he is my horse of a lifetime. An absolutely incredible creature!

    I don't want to go into all the nitty gritty details, but I had my vet out to check my horse after a progressive increase in tripping and stumbling over the past couple of months. I received the absolutely shocking news that I should retire my horse from riding due to navicular. He honestly could have just ripped my heart out. I was shocked. My stoic horse had been hiding a secret from me.

    Please tell me your experiences with retiring a horse from riding. Also anyone have experience with retiring a navicular horse to pasture? He's currently in bar shoes with equipak. Did you continue the same corrective shoeing when you move a horse to pasture? I have to imagine he would rip those shoes off regularly. Do you worry about them stomping their feet because of flies. This horse finds flies particularly offensive and is used to being in a barn with a fly spray system.

    Last...are they ok with retiring? He was so awfully depressed and underweight at the rescue. His condition immediately improved when I adopted him and he seemed so happy to have a job again. He had been in a pasture prior to the rescue and was so darn skinny (no idea how much hay they were supplementing the pasture with though).

    Is it sometimes better to retire them to a large paddock where shoeing, fly spray, supplement feeding, etc can still be controlled more closely?

  • #2
    Saddestalter, I am feeling your pain through your words, I am sorry for this news. Is there not a way you can continue to just ride at the walk? Trail ride ?

    If that is not an option, perhaps you private type barn with a stall, turnout arrangement would work for your guy and you. Your horse still getting basis day to day care and you being able to groom, bath, walk etc.

    Again, very sorry for this experience, it will work out, you seem to have a great heart and will find a good solution.


    • #3
      Could be your vet is being premature with that Dx. Read the above Navicular thread. Ask questions. Post pics of his feet. A lot of "navicular" problems are caused by poor/inadequate foot care.


      • #4
        Assuming you've examined options to change shoeing, inject navicular bursa, etc. and the horse needs to be retired... yes, they are all ok with it. Most retirement problems are in the owners head.

        However, some are never ok being thrown out in the back 40. My retired one still comes into a stall at night and goes in a paddock during the day. She very much craves human attention and needs a job. She has very easily accepted that her new job doesn't involve riding, but is instead babysitting a weanling during the day, and being groomed in the evening.


        • #5
          I'm so sorry to hear your horse is having problems and needs to retire. I fully understand how you feel. I've had my Perch/Morgan for 4 years and had to retire him last year. He's 21 and justed having a lot of age issues from heavy use prior to when I owned him. He's my forever horse and I will never get rid of him. As crazy as it sound, I'd get rid of my current ride before I'd part with him if I could no longer afford the two of them.

          He actually loves retirement but still wants the human interaction. He doesn't care about being ridden but wants to come into the barn and be groomed and fussed over and then, of course, the all important treats. He loves my other horse and thinks that the other horse is his pet!

          The hardest thing I've found regarding having to retire a favorite horse is that I'm having problems bonding with another horse. Every horse gets compaired to Conner and that's just so not fair. I'm aware of this in myself and I'm trying really hard to get over it. My second horse is wonderful and I'm learning to appreciate him for himself but it's taking time. I've had him 1 1/2 years now.
          Life is what happens when you're making other plans. RiverDance


          • #6
            Originally posted by saddestalter View Post
            Please tell me I'm not the only one who has felt absolutely heartbroken when their horse needed to retire from riding....

            I don't want to go into all the nitty gritty details, but I had my vet out to check my horse after a progressive increase in tripping and stumbling over the past couple of months. I received the absolutely shocking news that I should retire my horse from riding due to navicular.
            Please tell me your experiences with retiring a horse from riding.
            I don't have experience with retiring a navicular horse to pasture because I refused to accept that prognosis. My other choice given to me by the vet was either to nerve him or put him down. None of these was acceptable because as you I was heartbroken.

            He had been in 'corrective' shoes for about 3 years because of navicular, the corrective shoes didn't correct anything, they just led to the above conclusion. So I investigated BF as an alternative and it has been 9 sound years since then. So if you do go the pasture route, at least take his shoes off and give him a chance to heal himself, if not given a BF trim that specifically addresses navicular issues.


            • #7
              I understand your feelings. I've been there. Saved and saved to purchase a dressage schoolmaster. He passed his pre-purchase exam only to have my home vet discover a melanoma when she was out to float his teeth a couple months after purchase. I was sick to my stomach but after doing some research I thought that perhaps it wasn't so bad. In his case it was bad. We had about 18 months together before I had to retire him and then about 6 months before I had to make the painful choice to euthanize. In his case there was no other option.

              I was able to retire my gelding at home since I have the room. I run a retirement barn and horses are not just thrown out to pasture. While they have generous turnout they are still on a regimented schedule. Some horses do very well being on pasture only and others don't. You know your horse and his history. If you do go the pasture only route I would introduce it slowly. Also have compatible herd mates makes a big difference. My gelding would not have handled 24/7 pasture. He couldn't tolerate biting bugs, didn't like it when it got real hot, and only truly rested when in his stall. He was a higher strung, sensitive horse.

              As for shoes. Some horses simply aren't comfy without shoes. Your ground conditions and drainage will make a difference on how well he keeps his shoes. You might find a 5 week farrier schedule more accommodating to your needs.

              Naviculars in one of those very difficult diagnosis. Sometimes with rest and corrective shoeing horses are able to return or stay in work. I don't want to hold out a "magic" wand but don't make a hasty decision.

              If I can help or just be a listening ear, please feel free to drop me a PM or email. It's so hard at times but that's the nature of love. In the long run I wouldn't have it any other way. And thanks for caring for your horse and not ignoring the issues the both of you may be facing.
              Susan B.


              • #8
                Sounds like you need a second opinion, from a vet who can give you ALL the options, not just the one you were offered. Good luck.
                Click here before you buy.


                • #9
                  I am so sorry. For us, it was like a horse dying.
                  My daughter was given an advanced level eventer after her pony died, both she and Impulsive were 13 years old at the time. Even though Imp had done advanced, I made Jen do novice the first year...Imp HATED it and jumped everything like it was 4' tall! After placing 6th/team and 3rd individual at the USPC Champs, they moved up to training. Because we showed one horse trial a month, and only 5-6 a year, they stayed at training a long time, because I wanted to be sure Jen knew what she was doing, but they did school at the prelim level. In December of 2007, both were 18 years old. They did back to back clinics, one with her trainer and the other with Kyle Carter. They did intermediate schooling and I thought Imp would last another 10 years....she was really fresh and as always, loved what she was doing. Kyle invited Jen to join Young Riders and they were going to do their first 1 star that spring. It was a really exciting time..what better horse for Jen to do her first prelim on? I was really comfortable with this!
                  Well....3 weeks later, Imp came in from the pasture 3 legged..I was really hoping for an abcess but my gut told me otherwise. My vet knew immediately, and xrays confirmed knee chips.
                  The surgeon was floored when we told her what she had been doing the month before. The knee not only had multiple chips and fragments, but extensive DJD. It did not happen recently, had been on going for sometime, and he could not believe that she had never been lame or given some kind of indication of a problem. (that is a TB mare who loves her job for ya!)
                  Surgery that should have taken 10-15 minutes, took 35 minutes.
                  We were crushed to say the least. We were devasted. Really, it was like a death. We retired Imp, she has the good life at her farm, but it has been 2 years of no jumping, Jen hacks her when she comes home from school, but Imp hates retirement. We did move on, Jen got a new eventer, but the timing was wrong, with her starting college, a new horse wasn't really a good idea and they just haven't had the time to do much. It has been frustrating.
                  Again, I am so sorry for your news.
                  Lori T
                  www.facebook.com/LTEquine for product updates on the lines I rep


                  • #10
                    I was told, 5 years ago, that my daughter's horse had navicular and that it was irrefutable. I would get a second opinion from a lameness expert. After 6 months of bar shoes, which did absolutely no good, we had him checked by another vet. No navicular. He originally had a pasture accident and must have just been sore. He's since been checked twice. No navicular. So much for irrefutable.


                    • #11
                      I just retired my heart horse due to neurological deficits. She is only 8 years old. I live in the Bay Area of CA, so she is retired on 80 irrigated acres 2 1/2 hours away Luckily for her it is not hoof related, so she is barefoot out in a herd of mares and foals.

                      I echo those who say get a second (and third) opinion first. I am of the feeling personally that if a horse is to be retired they should be able to live out like a horse. There is a gal at my barn who has a severe navicular horse she has spent the last year trying to get sound enough to retire, he can hardly walk without extreme wedges, and he sits in a pipe stall all day. IMO it's terribly sad, if it were my horse I would put him down. I have watched so many navicular and founder horses suffer in "retirement".
                      On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog


                      • #12
                        Thank you for all the thoughtful replies. They've been comforting to me.

                        He's been treated by a vet who is also a farrier a few months ago. I had him trimmed and shod by a co-worker of the vet to his specific directions and he continued to trip and stumble. I recently went back to my tried and trued farrier and he has helped significantly.

                        This is a horse who is still terribly happy, very playful in turnout and seems like a happy camper. He's not on any pain medication and seems comfortable to just be a horse. He actually jigged and tried to drag me all the way out to the turn outs last night, but 'm happy to retire him a year to early rather than a year too late though...

                        I think my vet was just trying to give me an honest opinion. He did give the option of nerving him if I wanted to continue to do some light riding. I'm terribly protective of the horse and he has arthritis in other joints as well as the heel pain and it just seems like the kindest choice to let him retire as the proud, strong horse he is.

                        So it's not the suggestion to retire him that's hurting. He's earned it, he's absolutely worth it. I'm just going to miss riding that damn horse.

                        Thank you to all those with suggestions and to those who have shared their stories of horses needing to retire. Maybe I will take this in stages...retire him to a large paddock where he can still be babied and fussed on every day. Hopefully he can even have another retiree buddy in a paddock with him.

                        He's been living in a box stall for the last six months (don't judge...I'm in California and trying to do best by my horse trust me), so my deep, dark hope is that he will be feeling so much better once he has more room to move all throughout the day that I'll still be able to take him on a walk about ride here and there.

                        Oh and I will ABSOLUTELY never let this horse suffer. He will never have to endure being in pain and unhappy to satisfy my personal desire to have him around. When the time comes I will let him go. I promise.
                        Last edited by saddestalter; Jul. 3, 2010, 03:51 PM. Reason: clarification


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rcloisonne View Post
                          Could be your vet is being premature with that Dx. Read the above Navicular thread. Ask questions. Post pics of his feet. A lot of "navicular" problems are caused by poor/inadequate foot care.

                          Totally agree. There are many things you can try before retiring him!!Find the best lameness specialist in your area, and take your horse there.

                          And then have that recommend the best farrier in your area. Not all, but the majority of heel soreness is due the farrier trimming/shoeing the horse out of balance.


                          • #14
                            I think you could get a second opinion and if your sure of the problem an MRI might give you a difinative future prognoses. There are allot of navicular horses out there that get managed for years with navicular disese. Coffin joint injections, navicular bursa injections, even IRAP into the coffin joint, tildren, legend and adeqaun, or tildren along with the best hoof care you can get. Allot of horses like having a job equioxx/previcox or 1 gram of bute per ride can keep them going. Also many navicular horses do well in low impact consistent work as it increases circulation. You may want to get a second opinion.


                            • #15
                              Jingles for you ~

                              Jingles for you ~ I know "where" you are ~ broke my heart when my show mare needed to be retired ~ pleasure rode her for a few ( not enough years) and then she seizured ~ never knew why --- last one was 3-05 ~ she is loving her full retirement BUT I must admit ~ I cried when the farrier pulled her shoes.
                              Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                              • #16
                                Even if you like your vet, who is also a farrier, you still should get a second opinion. Especially considering that your previous farrier has had more luck with him than the farrier the vet recommended!

                                Navicular is a very controversial diagnosis. And x-rays DON'T always tell the full story. There are a lot of sources of heel pain that are not navicular and should not be treated as such.

                                I will say that my mare used to have a lot of issues with tripping. The shoeing was the issue, and once the shoe was set back on her oval-shaped hooves, she stopped tripping. She's also come in 3-legged lame from sole bruising that the vet initially thought was navicular. She's now 19, very sound, and schooling 3rd level.


                                • #17
                                  I will chime in with the others who have said to seek out a second opinion. While I do have some retirees here due to navicular, a diagnosis of navicular does not need to equal retirement. It may not necessarily even need to mean a lighter workload, it is one of those "it depends" things.

                                  As far as adjusting a horse to retirement, even those that love having a job and hate turnout, I have lots of experience with that. PM me and I'll be happy to share with you how we transition new horses. I don't want to clutter up this thread with all of that.
                                  Blogging about daily life on the retirement farm: http://paradigmfarms.blogspot.com/
                                  Paradigm Farms on Facebook


                                  • #18
                                    We have a navicular horse who is now age 22. Through navicular bursa injections, good shoeing followed by good barefoot trims, IRAP, regional perfusions of Tildren, and other myriad treatments, we have kept him happy. He was supposed to teach the daughter of my daughter's boss to ride until he broke a splint bone and damaged his suspensory a few months ago.

                                    Most navicular is manageable. I would recommend that you go to a board certified vet surgeon who does a lot of lameness work. Then, you will know if it is time to try a few more treatments before you decide about retirement. If it is retirement time, I would make sure he gets a lot of human interaction and good care. So many horses are neglected and maltreated in "retirement." If you can't give him good care, put him down.


                                    • #19
                                      Any good practitioner could have NO justifiable reason for objecting to or even FAILING TO SUGGEST a second opinion when there is a very difficult decision to be made.

                                      Things get better, sometimes. How about six months of turnout barefoot (with good trimming, of course) for starters, see what happens?
                                      Click here before you buy.


                                      • #20
                                        Agree with getting a second opinion, esp if the navicular is something that you haven't been dealing with all along. In other words, it's a new diagnosis.

                                        Is it navicular disease or navicular syndrome? IIRC, navicular syndrome refers to generic heel pain and some of the causes of that (my horse's collateral ligament strain, for example) are treated and managed differently than you would do for navicular disease (specific to the navicular bone, again IIRC).
                                        The Evil Chem Prof