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A Run of Incredibly Bad Luck

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    A Run of Incredibly Bad Luck

    In the past 6 years, I have had to retire 4 horses. I can't understand or wrap my head around my incredibly bad luck.

    Horse #1 11 year old Appendix gelding. Did a prepurchase exam. Brought him home and he was never quite right. After 2 years of pursuing answers (Vet, Trainers, Farriers, Chiropractors, Saddle Fitters, Body Workers) he was diagnosed with kissing spine. Did surgery. 6 weeks post rehab came up lame. Coffin joint arthritis. Retired to be a trail horse.

    Horse #2 5 year old OTTB. Had him for 6 months. Was NQR under saddle. Diagnosed with extreme, advanced kissing spine. Retired him with his breeder.

    Horse #3 7 year old OTTB. Bought straight off the track. NQR under saddle. Diagnosed with hind suspensory strain 6 weeks in. Strict rehab for 8 months. Follow up recheck at 10 months still significant lameness. Retired to be a broodmare.

    Horse #4 Got a promotion at work, saved all my pennies, looked for 8 months, 3 failed PPEs. Finally bought the horse of my dreams. 15 yr old WB with extensive show record. 1 year later, soft tissue injury, 6 months rehab with specialists, no expense spared. At last check, re-injury with complications. Vets don't see any successful outcome at all for any future rideability. Retired.

    I am emotionally and financially exhausted. And I don't understand why this keeps happening to me. I try my very best to provide top level care for my horses. Throughout this journey I have changed trainers, boarding barns, vets, Farriers, saddles, chiropractors, everything you can think of in pursuit of just having one sound horse that I can enjoy and have for a long time.

    I guess I am in search of answers that I will never have, other than life is not fair and I should be grateful that my problems are essentially luxury problems. But man oh man does it hurt. This last one has really taken the heart out of me, as he was the horse of a lifetime.

    I am so sorry. I have had a slew of horse heart breaks, similar to what you describe with several horses I had vetted and hoped to use for eventing - both OTTBs and WBs. It’s tough with finite time and money, and you’re right, these setbacks feel exhausting.

    No advice, just empathy.


      Hugs. Been through it myself. Hang in there.


        So sorry. I lost a horse of a lifetime last year not long after I retired one who was a bit of a heartbreaker, soundness-wise. It sucks so badly. Sending you good vibes.


          So sorry. I feel your pain.

          In the last seven years I have retired one at 14 (after stopping jumping at 12 and spending a year rehabbing when he was 9), euthanized one at 7 after trying to make him sound for three years (got about 9 good months in there), and now have one that I’ve spent 40% of the time rehabbing over the 4.5 years I’ve owned him. Not an inexpensive horse either. Currently off, as he has been for the entire summer of four of the five summers I’ve owned him. Tried a half lease during the first rehab and it was expensive and the horse made me lose confidence, so I’m reluctant to go there financially and otherwise. Other people in the barn just buy or lease a new one when there are issues. I just can’t justify that. Fortunately a friend let’s me lesson on her horse 1-2 times a week.

          The last time I calculated I hadn’t even had 50% good saddle time with a horse over the last ten years. I’m 64 and running out of time.

          It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even want to watch lessons at the barn bc it’s too depressing. Even if there were spectators allowed at shows I wouldn’t want to go watch for the same reason.

          The Evil Chem Prof


            I'm so sorry I had a string of a few years of bad luck and unfortunate events (injuries/health problems) with my horse. The past few years he's been completely sound and healthy, but now I have a young son and little time to ride- go figure. I feel your pain, it sounds like despite your good care and intentions you've just hit the jackpot of bad luck. May your next horse be healthy and sound!!!


              Original Poster

              Thank you all for your kind words. It helps to know I'm not alone and that others have experienced this too (although I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy).

              I have to admit, I was afraid to post - I figured some of the responses would be "but did you try this, that or the other thing". And I was not sure I could hear that. Yes, I tried it all. But you really came through for me, COTH folks. Thank you.


                So sorry. It can be so frustrating.


                  Been there done that...My first horse I had maybe a year of good riding, spent a few years spending every penny and tears to try and make him sound but finally retired him at 14. After a few short not great fits bought the next nicer horse and spent over half of my 7 years with him rehabbing him, the last 2 years walk or hand walking only. Decided to fully retire him - again he was 14. Mentally and financially I couldn't do it again but I love owning a horse. I leased and took lessons but it just isn't the same. So I bought a baby. My rational was if I start riding them young then I'll have at least until 14 before they're retired lol.

                  Bought a yearling full ppe, ever single one of his full and half siblings are sound, parents are super sound no issues at all. Out of an entire field of yearlings I pick the one who at 2 years old develops really bad left hock arthritis. It was either euthanize or do a chemical hock fusion. We did the fusion and it worked great, he's sound but had a lot of compensation issues I had to work through such as SI, back pain, ulcers etc. from the pain of the hock. The vets want him ridden because movement will help him but he will always need maintenance. The hock causes him no pain anymore but because it's fused his gait is slightly abnormal which causes stress on everything else. I love him to death I've never trusted a horse like this before he's amazing to ride but he's also cost me a fortune and may not have a long riding career. I will say that the few years I got to bond with him before he was broke really healed my heart from the heartbreak of the other horses I had to retire. It's a strange loss to have the horse alive and there but have lost all of the dreams and hopes you had for that horse.

                  Long story short I'm so sorry. You've done an amazing job by these horses instead of just giving up, tossing them, or riding them while in pain. It just sucks and hopefully in the end you'll end up with a fantastic amazing horse you can ride.


                    Sorry for your losses and an unlucky string. I say, if you can still do this thing called horses, don't give up! Maybe just take lessons for a while, or find a care-lease horse just to get some good riding in without the risk. Then maybe your next perfect horse will come along and this one will be a gem! It's out there!! (hugs)
                    My hopeful road to the 2021 RRP TB Makeover:


                      Oh I’m so sorry. Horses can be so hard.
                      My first horse is still alive at 30. He rarely saw the vet outside of his normal appointments. He is refined looking and almost delicate in appearance, so not the first thing that would come to mind when you think of a “tough” horse, but he is. I rode him for 10 years. The only issue was while he was reasonable for me to ride, he wasn’t ideal. He was just hard on the discipline I wanted to do and a little bit spooky for me.
                      Enter horse # 2 when he retired. He was temperamentally the perfect horse for me. However, he developed a health problem after 1 year, had $$$$ treatment, and died in an $$$$ treatment 2 years later.
                      That is when I got horse # 3. He was never lame when I had him and very healthy. I became absolutely scared of him, though. It became me paying a lot of money to basically terrify myself. I’m not saying he was psychotic or dangerous, but I was overmounted. I sold him due to that.
                      I’m now on # 4. So far it is working out. He has had some health issues that have stressed me out a bit, but least I am having fun.
                      I hope that you can find a horse that works our for you. It is really difficult. Every horse has something, but it sounds like yours have had more than your fair share. I was lucky that the horse I was so afraid of could be sold. He just wasn’t one I wanted to retire because I took it as a very personal not good enough type of a thing.


                        Peggy we are living parallel lives. My first horse as an adult retired at 15 and I boarded him till he died at 23. Next was a barely started 4 yr old. Dead at 7 from massive adhesions of the gut no thanks to the sellers lack of deworming program. Next was sold to me as a 12 yr old. Was really 19 - thanks expensive PPE vet, for your great diligence... Dragged seller through small claims, but he died at 21 just after curing a 6 month long rare and very expensive illness. Last one: bought a 6 month old colt, inspected and super fancy. PTS at 7 with shivers, PSSM and cervical arthritis. And now I’m shopping with great dread


                          Just ((((hugs)))) and empathy.

                          I had one retire at 11, euthanized at 18. I understand the giving up on your dreams while still having the horse.

                          The two I have now were presented to me by the universe. The older has lost 2-3 years (total) to injury/rehab but the other 20 years (and counting) were worth it. I'd do it again even knowing about the heaves, PPID, and PSSM. Ask me about the younger one in ten years and we'll see if I'm willing to say the same about him.


                            I'm so sorry, and I totally relate! I had to take a few years off riding for college, and got back into it in my late 20s. When I left for college, I was doing 3rd level dressage and training level eventing. When I got back from college, I had an amazing horse, but he'd just been sitting around and had some anxiety issues, so I never got back to that level. I had to retire him at 18 with a series of tendon injuries.

                            Someone gave me a mare, who I knew had lameness issues. I pursued treating for a few years, but never got anywhere, and she deteriorated to not even being pasture sound so she was euthanized at 8 years old. That was really hard on me so I decided to actually spend a little money and get myself a nice horse I could try to go back up the levels with.

                            Ended up with a lovely OTTB who was NQR the entire time I owned him. I spent 2 years and 5 figures chasing down an answer before covid hit and I couldn't justify the costs of continuing. He was euthanized this may at 10 years old.

                            I'm now approaching 40 and I'm starting to sadly accept I'll probably not have the time or money to ever 'get back there,' riding-wise.

                            One thing I will say... I have been seeing A LOT of sales ads with horses who are NQR or even outright lame. Whether their sellers are trying to get away with something or simply oblivious is unclear, but there are so many lame horses out there. It's weird. My friends and I have been chatting about it, personally, I suspect that while some things with horses have gotten better (nutrition, saddle fit, etc,) some things have been forgotten, such as proper conditioning work. I think there are a lot horses out there with soft tissue injuries from their riding management (just a hunch.)


                              I am so, so sorry OP and like the others I feel your pain! I've had my share of bad luck too. After leasing a series of unsuitable horses (boaters, buckers etc.) I bought a horse three years ago hoping for a happily ever after but after less than a year and a half of ownership, I had a bad accident (young and green clumsy horse bad combination with nervous middle aged adult) leased a great old show hunter packer but had her for just six months as she came down with an incurable ailment and had to be retired to pasture. I've been looking to buy a horse ever since and both of the horses I'd hoped to buy (one recently, one seven months ago) failed expensive PPEs. And the search to buy has been its own exercise in frustration and disappointment. As a horsey friend says, it's like an addiction. It certainly isn't sensible (or economical) this horse love!