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Drawing the line on meds for the "good of the horse" Spin Off.

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  • Drawing the line on meds for the "good of the horse" Spin Off.

    Get this discussion worthy topic off that train wreck.

    So, we now have so many therapies and medications out there to keep our horses comfortable and serviceable they go on longer and better then they ever did.

    But when is it too much? When do the things we do for them start to work against their long term health? Or mask things that will effect them even in the short term? Does being quick to stick solve anything beyond the immediate problem?

    I'll start. I did joint injections on diagnosed OCD in the hocks on one that was 10 at purchse with that known issue maybe 4 times in 8 years. Did Legend and then switched to LubriSyn.

    Dropped the horse down to 2'6" at about age 16. Went to adding bute every other day then switched to one of the oxx name arthritis drugs at age 19. Retired at age 21 in lieu of more injections and larger doses or "stacking" in combination..

    What do you do and have you done with your show horses? Or what do you think if you don't own any or have not faced the issue?
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

  • #2
    I'll play.

    Last three horses:

    Horsie number one was a TB that never made it to the track due to a known ankle issue that occurred in an accident on the farm where he was bred. He was a stunning, easy going sort and made up into a really super hunter type, in fact he was a strip horse and did quite well in the limited showing I could afford at the time. However, that ankle caught up with him pretty early - he was retired at 9, never did any real intervention on that one because a very good sporthorse vet advised against it, (saying the gains were likely to be very short term and I didn't want to break him - he went on to be a breeding stallion and seemed pretty darn happy with his new life.)

    Second one, also a TB, raced until he was coming 6 and retired quite sound from the track. Did one round of hock injections pretty early - around 8 yo? - to help with discomfort during a fusing process, which took almost a year. Once those hocks were done fusing, he never needed anything else, and he's still going strong in his mid twenties now. He's moved down a couple levels but still happy to show you all the buttons are installed and in good working order, so if you happen to push the "turbo" switch you better have a pretty good seat and a tight leg or be quick to grab some mane, cause he can motor like no other horse I've ever seen. That belly can get pretty flat to the ground...

    Current horse is now 11, showed some minor discomfort last spring after a heavier-than-normal show schedule (for me, which is once or two weekends a month in the warm weather.) Never lame at all but coming out a little stiff, having to make a bigger than normal effort on the R to L change... vet recommended doing the hocks, which I agreed with. Definitely made a huge difference and I don't anticipate needing to repeat that procedure anytime soon. That one IS on an oral supp (MSM) as a preventative, figure it can't hurt and it's cheap to throw in the feed. I believe that with good care and a conservatively managed program, he will go on for years and years; he's operating well under his native abilities, as I only jump around the 3' for the most part, and he can easily lope over stuff a foot higher without much effort. And FWIW, that is something I specifically look for when I buy one for myself - I don't want to ask a horse to consistently push the outer limits of their ability, and want one that is super comfortable in the job I ask of them.
    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


    • #3
      I will do what I can to what I consider within reason, which is basic injections, not too often, Legend/Adequan, supps, and even NSAIDs in low doses. I take advil before I do an extremely strenuous task, why wouldn't I give it to my older horse?

      My old TB had one round of hock injections starting at age 8 or 9, with maintenance monthly Legend and daily Cosequin. Did fine on that for 5 years, then he injured both front suspensories in the pasture. Came back from that to tool around the crossrails with a kid for a couple of years before retiring from high ringbone in both fronts six years ago. He gets daily bute and is happy if not sound.

      My 16 y.o. appendix had his SI injected at 12, monthly Adequan and Legend, hock injections twice. Couldn't get him sound. He wasn't LAME per se, just NQR. Retired him. A year off and whatever ailed him resolved itself, got back on and he's been sound ever since. He gets isox and Cosequin ASU only. Don't know if it helps but it isn't hurting, too scared to mess with it and it isn't that expensive so on it he stays. If he's going somewhere stressful, I might throw him a bute beforehand. He's older. It isn't masking anything, just keeping him from feeling the stiffs from the trailer ride, which he gets very nervous from and the tenseness can cause him to be stiff.

      I am very careful with his fitness regimen, I think it is especially important to make sure they are fit if they are prone to mystery lameness. Too much and it could aggravate the mystery again. So we do a lot of trot sets and long walks around the field up and down hills.

      8 y.o. OTTB is sound as a dollar (knock on wood), gets nothing but good nutrition. I am less meticulous with his fitness regimen as he keeps himself fit running around constantly.

      I do try to keep my horses in work as long as they are happy and comfortable with it, and their prognosis is good. I converse with my vet before treating them about whether the treatment is going to be good for them long term or whether it is likely to impair their ability to have a happy retirement. If the latter, I don't do it.

      A lot of it is guesswork. You do the best you can with the info you have.
      Last edited by fordtraktor; Feb. 17, 2011, 02:02 PM.


      • #4
        I really feel like this depends on the situation and the horse. Some horses respond better/longer to certain medications/therapies than others. So a blanket statement just doesn't fit each situation. However, if I am suspecting discomfort from joint issues, I first do a "bute trial" I will place the horse on bute for one week and see if any improvement. If so, then horse is experiencing soem pain/discomfort, if not then the issue is more "mechanical" in nature. I then will have a vet examine the horse to rule out soft tissue involvment, which is soemthing ENTIRELY different than arthritic changes. If arthritic in nature, I will begin with an oral joint supplement, unless the vet feels that the condition warrents a more agressive approach. I prefer a combination of an HA/MSM oral supplement. My second course of action is a round of adequan, 7 IM injections 4 days apart. I will then followup with the oral supplement above. Finally, if these things don't completely adress the issue I will explore joint injections. Hocks being most common, but sometimes ankles/and/or coffin joints on horses that show issues there. Again all of these are followed up with oral supplements as stated and sometimes we combine joint injections with a followup of adequan. I also agree that there are times when a NSAID is beneficial, in reasonable doses and for short periods of time


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by shawneeAcres View Post
          ...So a blanket statement just doesn't fit each situation.

          That is what I was trying to avoid by starting this thread-blanket statements. Was after actual experience and some more general thoughts but only if centered on specifics. Not what "everybody" does or does not do or speculation on same.

          Thank you for being specific.
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


          • #6
            16-year-old going on 4-year-old Irish Sport Horse. Bought at age 11. He had foxhunted, evented to Prelim, and done the level 3/4 jumpers I believe. Previous owners had injected pastern and hocks on vet's advice. Prepurchase x-rays showed normal wear and tear for a horse of his age. For the two years that he showed at 3'6" he was on an oral HA supplement, a Legend/Adequan rotation, and we continued the hock injections on our vet's advice and based on how he felt. Started to feel a little sticky at 3'6", dropped down to 3', continued joint maintenance. Unrelated injury sidelined him for about nine months. When he moved back into jumping, he got 1g bute after his low jumping schools for the first few weeks because he hadn't used those muscles in a long time and came out the next day a little stiff and sore. As he got used to it, stopped the bute. Now back to 3' and he feels great. Continuing with hock injections every year- around early-mid December, he starts creaking a little, so he gets injected around Christmas and starts off the new year feeling like he's 3 years old. Most importantly, he has a solid fitness program. Lots of flatwork, one or two days of hill work at walk and trot, hacking out often. Interval work cross-country in good footing. He's fit or over-fit for what he has to do.

            When he says he isn't comfortable in his job, his job changes to something he is more comfortable doing.
            "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

            Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
            Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.


            • #7
              This is one thing about competing FEI, when you need to drug is when you retire the horse from that level.

              At my last FEI ** I noticed my guy was not jumping as "spritely" as previous. On the 1,000 mile trip home he seemed to not recover as well as in the past. When he strained a suspensory a month before the American Championships, I retired him. He has not been ridden since. He was 19.

              I do believe that if there is a valid therapy with veterinary oversight (e.g. my vet's recommended Legend the last 2 years of my last horse's FEI competitive life and bute per the USEF rules for national competitions) there is no issue. I know I compete on Alleve regularly. I think the FEI rules are too draconian based on the modern requirements on these animals and I think the USEF can do better in its enforcement.

              I grew up with trainers (horsemen and women) who hammered into my pea brain that my job is to be my horse's advocate. My SO has hammered into me my role of responsibility to my horse. That, I think has been lost as the amateur of today is no longer really horse oriented/focused.

              Last edited by RAyers; Feb. 17, 2011, 03:41 PM.


              • #8
                Originally posted by fordtraktor View Post
                I will do what I can to what I consider within reason, which is basic injections, not too often, Legend/Adequan, supps, and even NSAIDs in low doses. I take advil before I do an extremely strenuous task, why wouldn't I give it to my older horse?
                Me too.
                The second they need regular painkillers (even NSAIDs) for a job, whatever that job may be, is the second they're finished.


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                  This is one thing about competing FEI, when you need to drug is when you retire the horse from that level.
                  You retired yours...but what about the others who step down due to needing meds to keep going? How far do their new owners go with them under USEF rules?
                  When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                  The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by findeight View Post
                    You retired yours...but what about the others who step down due to needing meds to keep going? How far do their new owners go with them under USEF rules?
                    Ah! This ties in with a thread brought up by Denny Emerson on the Eventing Forum about what happens to top riders as they age. Some just walk away and others enjoy going back down the levels.

                    In terms of the USEF rules, taken with best of intention, there should be no issue. However, people make it an issue due to short-cuts in training, desire to achieve a high level with little effort, etc. I think horses can have very good lives going back down the levels as school masters. But again, in my view, it is the owner/rider/trainer who must take the responsibility to look after the best interest of the animal. Those who circumvent the rules also direct our attention to what should be a fundamental tenet of our sport. Put down the super frapacino mocha latte, get off myfacewebspace and spend some time in the barn watching up down lessons or green break a baby; hang with the vet even if it is not your horse; read Tobin's guide to performance horse drugs or Stashak's Lameness in Horses;.... Become a student of the discipline rather than a participant. These are not dogs or cats you can leave in the backyard, nor a bicycle that you can put away for winter.



                    • #11
                      I'll combine this with a "then vs now" perspective.

                      Back in the 60s, I had a palomino TBxQH named Golden Rocket. He was a year younger than I was, and I got him when I was 12.

                      When he was about 15, he developed calcification in one knee. A piece "broke off" in the joint. Depending on where it settled, he could be perfectly sound or quite off.

                      Ther were no surcigal or other options at the time. Just bute and rest.

                      I continued to ride him when he was sound, and he got bute and time off when he wasn't.

                      The year he was 16, I didn't want to take him to Pony Club rally (C2-level) but was pressured into it- if _I_ didn't go, then three other people would not be able to go. As it went, we had a stop cross country (very common for him, even when completly sound) and crashed through a fence in show jumping (VERY unusual for him). But our dressage, written, and stable management counted and our team won first.

                      At the end of that summer, I took my B test. The day before, I knew he was not his best. If it had been anything but the B test, I would have scratched. But it was, realistically, my ONLY change to take the B, and there was no other horse I could take.

                      The examiners all agreed he was sound, and I passed my B.

                      I rode him for another year, my first year in college, and then retired him. My sister, who was doing quite a lot of teaching, used him for occaisional walk trot lessons.

                      By the time he was 20 the knee, plus other arthritis, was no longer controllable by bute, to the point he stopped eating, and he was put down.

                      chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                      • #12
                        I think there is a lack of information/knowledge out there about the long term impact of certain drugs/options and so maybe education is the key. I am guessing there are a lot of people who just inject inject inject and don't even know that this could compromise the horse's future. Perhaps if trainers/vets got more questions, more options could be considered.


                        Do horse's care that their life span/ ability to have a career has been shortened?

                        Would a horse rather be euthanized than drugged?

                        Do horse's know about something called retirement?

                        I think ethics are very personal, and I do respect that sometimes $$$ speak loudly when it comes to doing "what is right".

                        I had a horse once, decades ago when I was 14, that was a nut. On ace he was safe. Vets at the time couldn't help him, and my coach wouldn't ride him. I didn't know what to do with him as I wouldn't sell him on to the next sucker as had been done to me, but needed money from him to buy the next one. Fortunately for me (not for him) some nice breeder offered to take him on part trade for one of her young horses. Told me she knew a boy up north who could handle him. Apparently boy up north is code for slaughter. Would horse have been better off being drugged and ridden? I wouldn't have been, but then nor could I have made the decision to send him to slaughter. I have no idea what would have happened if that nice lady had not taken pity on me and offered me a solution.
                        Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                        • #13
                          Again in the 60s, we had Meadow Lark, by the same sire as Rocket, but very different personality. She was nominally my sister's horse.

                          She bowed a tendon when she was about 11 or 12. Stall rest, bandaging, hosing, cortizone, and bute. The day she was supposed to go outside the forst time, she bowed (but only a minor bow) the OTHER front leg.

                          Altogether, including 6 months turnout after the second bow was deemed "cured", she was off almost 2 years.

                          But she came back completely sound, and went on to be quite competitive in the then very new "Children's Hunter" division, into her early 20s

                          chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                          • #14
                            I don't think basic NSAID maintenance dosage is necessarily evil. We had a QH with navicular who was on 1/2 g of bute a day for 12 years and was perfectly "sound" with proper shoeing for his ailment (aluminum wedges). Needed the bute, without he'd have a tiny head bob at the jog. His job was basically W-T-C lessons and some light trail riding.

                            Would he have been better off retired so that we could say we didn't ride horses on meds? I personally think he was happier having the job and the bute personally. And he certainly brightened the lives of a lot of kids, took perfect care of them and otherwise behaved like the perfect gentleman. I doubt he would have liked standing around the field half so much, he was a people horse and liked the attention. 12 years is a long time to do nothing, when he could be doing something on half a gram of bute a day.

                            It is also a long time to carry a horse that doesn't do anything, something the "pro-retirement" people should keep in mind. Horses that retire early often get put down early too, IMHO. I've seen it happen a lot.

                            The navicular horse eventually suffered an unrelated hip injury (his navicular never deteriorated due to our excellent farrier, I think) and was retired. He never fully recovered from that injury and he was put down about a year later when he could not get around the field very well and his pain was not well controlled with bute or Equioxx.
                            Last edited by fordtraktor; Feb. 17, 2011, 04:58 PM.


                            • #15
                              More recently-

                              In 1992 I bought Spy as a well bred but unbroken 10 yo. I bought him in a hurry to prevent him from going to Thurmont (auction) the next day, but the POST-Purchase Exam showed minor arthritis.

                              He was supposed to be a sales project, but ended up being leased out from age 12 to age 18.

                              By that point, he had hip arthritis which made him refuse to jump. Since I wasn't involved in his day to day care, I am not sure EXACTLY what treatments they tried, but I know it included various injections.

                              Since he came back home, he has been on various oral joint supplements, now Hyalun, to keep him comfortable.

                              At age 29, no one would call him "sound", and he hasn't been safe to ride for about 4 years (stumbles badly with a rider). But he cheerfully trots or canters up to the barn, with his ears forward, crooked as hell, at dinner time.

                              When he needs to be on bute (other than for an acute incident unrelated to the arthritis) he will be put down. Not that bute is inherently evil, but at his age it will indicate that things are escalating rapidly.

                              chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                              • #16
                                My turn
                                Current, first and only horse is a OTTB who retired sound after racing 7 times in 7 years. Go figure why they kept running him.
                                He is going to be 21 in June. Current program is what the barn feeds, XTN, soaked hay cubes (1/2 alfalfa, 1/2 timothy) 3 times a day and hay. 2 grams of bute the night after a show we trailer out to or a very hard (lots of jumping) lesson. That is it. I tried a multi supplement over the summer, mostly to help him deal with the Lyme and I felt it helped but he has been off it for a few months and I don't feel a difference. What makes the most difference is the amount of grain! More in summer, less in winter.

                                I think, and always say it, that it is 50% genetics and 50% maintenance. Lucassb stated above that one who is super comfortable in his job with be less stressed all around than one who is pushing or at their limit. That is definitely the case with my horse. I only push the limit with (relaxation is his biggest issue at an away show, esp. a horse trial so that means well over an hour of dressage work before the test, the jumping height he is at is ridiculously easy for him) him a couple of days a year, usually at a horse show. He does work hard but not at the limit of what he can do on a regular basis.

                                I have trained other horses who needed much more. One needed Legend at 3 week intervals as well as Adequan. He was never NQR, I always felt it was something in his back. Whether he was born that way or had an accident, I never knew but he always had trouble with the most basic of W/T/C. By the time I got to him he was 11 and had been poorly trained for years, so I am sure that added to it. He cribbed and colicked frequently and had allergies so a very high maintenence ($$$$) horse. He retired last year, sound but NQR still. He was another OTTB. Sad because the mind was willing but the body could not keep up.

                                Other I know are all on maintencce of Legend/Adequan/ hock injections. Sometimes bute.

                                For me as a trainer, if they need more that Legend/Adequan on a regular (more than a couple of times a year) and the once - twice yearly hock injection as a mid to late teenager then it is time for another job or retirement. Esp. if they had a big career up to that point. If they need that when they are under 10, if they have not done much in life becasue of various issues, then I would not think they will be riding sound as late teenagers.

                                I am fine with bute for older horses after a strenous day, for that night and maybe the follwoing AM. I know I get sore when I play too hard! But more than that, esp. if they are limping due to soreness, not just typical muscle soreness, then it is time to change the game.
                                "I am a sand dancer... just here for the jumps!" - Schrammo


                                • #17
                                  Something RAyers wrote awhile back still resonates with me. Something to the effect that he promised his horse that he would not use him up. I try to keep that at the back of my mind as I manage my horse.

                                  Star gets maintenance Legend and Adequan, as well as MSM, something I started after he was diagnosed with a flattening on one of the surfaces of a stifle joint. That was five years ago when he was 7. His stifle was injected at that point and we went on. I've had that redone at two-year intervals since--both times he was more NQR than actually lame. Shortly after the stifle was injected three years ago, he strained a high suspensory (yes, in the diagonal front) and then turned out to have strained collateral ligaments (P2-P3) as well. In retrospect the collateral ligament thing had probably been going on for a few months. Treated that (IRAP + SWT for the collateral ligament), did the long slow rehab, etc. I have had the coffin joints reinjected with HA at 12-month intervals.

                                  The flip side of all this chemical intervention is that I really try to treat him like gold and really pay attention, sort of like people had to do before we had all this nifty stuff. He is kept in good shape (some might say too good). I do a lot of walking u/s, as advocated by some of the old-timers. I ice his coffin joints if I do much jumping in a given day. I poultice and wrap and use Sore-No-More, which may be more for me. We don't jump a lot. We tend to stay 3' or under, well within his athletic ability. If he looks slightly funky, we stop, reassess the next ride, and then possibly call the vet. He gets shod every 5 weeks. I don't lunge (which when coupled with the fit horse, provides for some interesting moments). He gets seen by a massage person which I view as entertainment for the horse and another pair of hands/eyes on his body.

                                  Fortunately, I am in a program that fits with this. The trainer is willing to deal with an animal that is, ahem, non-robotic at times. Fortunately I ride well enough to deal with periodic mayhem.
                                  The Evil Chem Prof


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Peggy View Post
                                    Something RAyers wrote awhile back still resonates with me. Something to the effect that he promised his horse that he would not use him up. I try to keep that at the back of my mind as I manage my horse.

                                    THIS !!!!! YES!!!! Me too!

                                    I also wanted to add, I have seen many rent-a-horse go on working into their 20's, 30's and even one who was supposedly over 30, on nothing more than the most basic of care. Granted these animals were never top of the sport horses, however, being working animals they did have a tougher life than most private horses used for showing. They never recieved all the drugs and supplements a caring owner would provide and yet remained sound throughout their lives. Who would let their horse jumps small fences 5 or more times a week? Go out for multiple hours every day? Yet these horses do and stand up to it.

                                    I do know of a horse who was an upper level jumper in his youth who gave lessons into his late 30's. He still would give the SS kids quite the ride on a good day!
                                    He was at Thomas School in Huntington, NY. Another was in his 30's and still cruising around 2'-2'-6" courses and doing upper level dressage for fun. We used to put "aged" on the entry form. RIP Showtime!
                                    Comes back to: Is it genetics (breedeing?) or is it management?

                                    When I think of all the money that needs to be spent keeping a horse sound for the level he is at, I start to think that it would probably be cheaper to retire him and get another one just as good but at least for the moment maintenence free. Ideally, I would like to drop them down to where they need minimal maintenence to keep them comfortable doing a job. I belive that horses thrive when kept busy and active. If he is happy and willing then keep him going.

                                    I also think that if all the meds aren't doing any good, it is time to say goodbye. As my horse moves into his second decade I have that converstation with myself more and more. But today is not that day!
                                    "I am a sand dancer... just here for the jumps!" - Schrammo


                                    • #19
                                      I'll play too. I think there is a place for helping our horses.

                                      I have a currently retired 24 year old TB. started showing on the line as a 2 year old, Junior hunters, lightly shown in the Regulars, did the A/Os, A/A/s, loaned out for IHSA shows, regionals for Intermediate and Open fences, then went onto be a lesson horse until retiring at 22. I own him now and have for almost 16 years. The horse didn't and never would pass a PPE. When cometing heavily went in bar shoes. I've injected coffin joints and hocks 7 times the whole time I owned him. I have used adequan sporadically during compettive years and oral joint supplements as well. I retired the horse when it just wasn't there for him. He now is barefoot and no help/ meds. Looks sound in the field, I promise you he's not.

                                      I also have a 18 year old Hanoverian, lesson horse for under 2'6". shows all summer. gets 1 gram bute every other day. steel shoes up front. biannual injections in his neck and hocks. I have used oral joint supplements. He is sound because he has a purpose. He always looks better after shows than before. Hmmmm. This horse did A/O jumpers, Maclay, A/O and A/A hunters and now teaches the tweenies how to navigate. He would do more, I wont let him. He won't pass a flexion test, but goes to work with his ears up and stills pins top three in the hack. Our region has good company even at the local shows...

                                      I can go down the aisle; there are 23 in the barn at some stage in their career, and I help them when it's needed. I quite when it's not fair or too expensive.
                                      I use my Nsaids when appropriate, they have a purpose. I am developing my next wave of horses. My oldies have stepped down, and my youngins are on the way up. I see sore bodies. I back off, do lots of walking, and train them to be sound. I talk with my farrier about balance. I flat and flat and flat, and I rest them after a long show. I read them and adjust the plan. I massage them myself. The horses tell me what they like.

                                      My coming 7 year old jumper mare, loves to stretch her scapula/ back. If you put her in the crossties she offers anyone the foot to anyone walking by to hold so she can stretch. Save a simple injury she's almost done rehabbing from, she's been a clock since age four.

                                      I don't like to inject a lot of joints, especially not in my barn aisle. I don't discount it's value; I just don't like it.

                                      I like walking, and flatting. I like ice, poultice, hoof packing, a good farrier, days off, solid grooming, bitting rigs, lateral work, cold hosing, sweats, oral supplements, good feed, a quality vet to advise rather than poke. I like magnets, heated blankets, long walks, good cool outs, standing wraps, adequan, a little bute, some carisporodol or robaxin at home if we jumped huge or did serious frame work, and long walks...


                                      • #20
                                        When to say "when."

                                        The essence of the question is when to admit the horse can't do the intended job anymore, IMO.

                                        There are so many ways to fudge that line that we didn't have when I was a kid in the 80s. I'm glad I learned how to prevent stuff-- boney or soft tissue-- by good training, good management and choosing the right horse and job.

                                        But I did have to find that "we should quit now" line with my gelding. That happened at 16. He was sound in a way that required no treatments of any "official" problems until then. He then said, "Um, yo, I have some real ringbone in my LH pastern." The dude decided this literally over night. This horse never had a soft tissue injury.

                                        In any case, the "sudden" LH ringbone made very little sense and was misdiagnosed at first. It ended his career because of what I was offered as "treatment." That was alotta money for a problem we wouldn't ever fix and would just hover over until I went broke or he got so "broken" that the pasture-sound horse I finally had left wasn't terribly pasture sound. It looked like an expensive path to regret.

                                        And then there was the rest of his body to consider. In retrospect, this didn't happen over night. He also had some OA in the front pasterns that I had known about for about 2 years prior. He went around and did his job happily. He didn't move the same as he had when he was younger. The first line line of defense was keeping this horse in consistent and correct work.

                                        What I was offered in the way of veterinary options, I didn't take: Use NSAIDs and stack at shows eventually, and/or inject these joints.... but know that once I started, I would continue that until all this didn't "work."

                                        To me "not working" meant "closer to death after I finally say 'when,'" and also that "hovering" over a problem and money spent. I had never injected steroids into any moving joints in this horse before he said "Uncle" with the LH pastern. Lower hocks were fair game.

                                        I *know* someone else would have started working on these arthritic front pasterns earlier than I did. The horse was shod really, really well for the middle 10 years of his career. With more money stuffed into any of these pasterns and a trainer/vet team that had the really high standard of soundness that usually comes with people who inject a lot of joints, this horse could have had a longer career and maybe been more free of pain for the last couple of years I rode him with a less expert approach.

                                        I don't know whether this horse benefited from being owned by someone that was part of this kind of "higher end" program? I don't know. I think he would have been more comfortable for longer. I think he would have been euthanized sooner, so his total life shorter. All that means he would have been a better "value"-- lots of money spent for the useful career, a short and cheap retirement.
                                        The armchair saddler
                                        Politically Pro-Cat