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need to vent..horse ownership.

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  • need to vent..horse ownership.

    Just need to vent.

    Ever just feel like you’re tired of horses? I've been doing this since I was 7 years old without any breaks, and now I'm 35 and suddenly starting to feel like I'm just done with the stress. I love my current horse dearly, but he is a medical case like none I have ever seen before. He tortures me by either being deathly ill with some crazy colics that can go on for days, or super healthy and ready to compete. It's nice that when he's good, he is really good and fits the bill as my dream horse - he is everything I ever wanted. But when he is sick, which seems to be every month or two lately, I usually end up sleeping (sleep walking I guess) in the barn handling it by myself overnight, most of the time crying alone or getting so sleep deprived that I feel like a zombie with some psycho emotions. It's exhausting, and I find myself with knots in my stomach wondering when the next phone call will come all the time. I hate the cold, and most of the bad nights I’m usually freezing while walking or watching him, praying desperately that someone will take some pity on me and appear at 3am with a really hot coffee and an offer to walk/watch for a while so I can warm up.

    Financially we aren't doing great, the vet bills are tremendous. More than that though - it’s my constant worrying that's taking a huge toll on me.

    All of this sickness and time spent literally on the floor with this horse has made a bond between us that is incredibly strong. I feel guilty even thinking of giving him up, I know it’s a horse and I come first, but I am a naturally guilty feeling person and I think that would torture me for a very long time if I let go now.

    Besides, I have a few options for homes for him that might be good, but I am almost positive that given this horses long, weird and very serious history, nobody but me could keep him alive. The pieces to his puzzle are extensive, and a lot of it doesn't make sense to even the most seasoned horse person or vet.

    So, I feel stuck, and I'm just very frustrated and sad. He was the dream horse purchase, and he is otherwise perfect in every way. He has won me a lot of things when he's feeling good, and I have soo much pride in what a great horse he is both on the ground and in the saddle. I love him so much. He has the best personality, he's georgous, and so well broke/talented.

    Such a mess. Suppose I don't need much advice, was just looking for some shoulders to cry on and to hear if anyone else has gone through this.

  • #2
    I'm so sorry for your bad luck with your heart horse.. I sincerely hope things start to look up before you have to give up. I understand completely, though I've never had an extremely ill horse, I have lost a heart horse because of financial hardship when I was younger.. it's never easy when you're not ready to give up, but something forces your hand... good luck to you in your future...


    • #3
      I'm sorry. I have a dog who seems to be much like your horse this last year. It's not fun, you're right. And it's danged expensive which affects a lot of other aspects of life...

      To be frank, if I were in your shoes, I might consider enjoying him while he's well and euthing next time he gets ill. I know that sounds kind of harsh, but he doesn't enjoy being sick any more than you do. And if you've exhausted all of the other options as far as managing his environment, feed, etc and are still having issues every other month, maybe it's time to let him go.

      While I get the feeling of dedication and "horses first" mentality (and agree!), there is a point at which it's just not that feasible anymore. If you're feeling this down about what is supposed to be your hobby and something that brings you joy, imagine how HE feels? You at least can look back on the good times and look forward to more. He lives in the now and when he feels like poo, life sucks.

      I dunno. Tough spot. I can feel your frustration through your post. You've done so much already. ((hugs))
      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

      Might be a reason, never an excuse...


      • #4
        I went through a year with my horse ... spoke with the insurance company weekly and got to see a lot of very cutting edge procedures. In the end, she made the decision for me and honestly? Not the one I would have chosen, even though our future in competition was very very dim.

        Her primary vet said she was just TRYING to kill herself with one thing or another. Knowing her as I did, I didn't believe it ... but it's a perspective.

        I just got a new horse but I'm not over my old girl and probably never will be, so I just thot I'd chime in and say "yeah, been there" and send you a virtual hug.


        • #5
          Oh I am so sorry! I wish I lived closer to bring you hot coffee and handwarmers and take a few watches for you!! That sounds so hard, but I totally understand how a very strong bond forms where its just you and him. You are like a parent with a chronically ill child, except that usually children's medical care happens indoors where there is heat! Ihope you get support, someone to sit with you, bring you that coffee, just listen to how stressful it is. Its so hard when we know that wearing ourselves to a frazzle does not really help whoever is ailing but sometimes there really is no choice and we have to do what we have to do. Just sending you prayers and a hug and hopes that your situation is relieved in a way that works for you!!!


          • #6
            Yes I know exactly how you feel. It was my dream to own a horse. I've had my mare since she was 3 off the track - she's about to turn 7 - and due to some really bad luck lately I am ready to throw in the towel. I would be thrilled to go back to leasing someone elses horse and not have to deal with any health issues, cleaning stalls, etc. This takes too much money, time, and effort for it not to be fun.

            Custom Painted Saddle Pads and Ornaments


            • #7
              I was up all night with a mild colic. Well, actually, I got some sleep, but you know how you wake up and everything is fine for a few minutes until you _remember_ and then that brick lands in your stomach again? That was last night.

              A month ago he did this the day before my husband was supposed to have surgery, and that one needed the vet and hand walking all night. Thankfully I already had house sitters lined up so I could be away for the surgery.

              I have him at home so at least I have my warm bed, but there's no one to ask, the vet is an hour away and the vet clinic at Auburn is farther than that.

              Last night I was threatening to feed him to the lions [nearby wild animal park is an option for disposal] because it's just not fun anymore.

              If you have done what you can for him and it keeps happening, don't let _anyone_ make you feel bad about euthanizing.
              ... and Patrick


              • #8
                The love of my life had the same problem as yours...constant colic. It was almost weekly...enormous vet bills and one vet suggested it was time to open him up to see what was going on. I was terrified that I was going to lose him...but now, he is healthy and strong and never colics.

                I know it sounds to good to be true but all I did was make sure he gets a half a bucket of warm grain water with each meal. It took time...I would say it took a few months overall to see him continue to improve. I think his colon had to heal from all of the medication we gave him to help him thru the colics.

                Anyway, the warm grain water gave him about 7-10 gallons of water per day which worked for my guy to keep everything moving. He has not had a colic in years. I hope my experience helps someone.


                • #9
                  I have one of those. Laminitis, insulin resistant, treated 3 times for EPM, skull fracture, melanoma surgery... the list goes on and on. My vet knows that he has a DNR order on his head. If he gets sick, he has to get better w/ vet minimal assistance. And dang, if he hasn't been healthy for the last 2 1/2 years. He's too scared to get sick!!!


                  • #10
                    OP, I am entirely with you. I won't go into significant details, but I spend thousands of dollars average a year on emergency vet bills. Every year for the last 5-6 years or so I have had a significant emergency where one of my horses would have died without vet intervention, most of which requiring months of rehab after.

                    More recently, my 5 year old fancy show horse put his hoof through wire fencing and sheared it off. We were seriously lucky; no significant damage. But I'm up to at least $2k now in vet expenses and he's in a stall for several more months as he heals. He had a liver reaction to tranquilizers, so I can't drug him, and he's dangerously crazy. I have to board him and do self-care board (in addition to taking care of my other two at home) because my stall walls are only 7' tall, and I fear he'll rear and get stuck. I have to change his bandage at 5am when no one is at the barn so if he goes ballistic, he doesn't hurt anyone but me. I text my husband when I'm done so he knows I'm still alive. I have anxiety attacks about changing that bandage, and live in fear of the day when he's given the all clear to go back to work and I have to either A) turn him out and hope he doesn't kill himself or B) ride/longe him and hope he doesn't kill me.
                    I've already told his vet that if he hurts himself again (e.g. ligament tear) then I will have to euthanize or retire him. He cannot do long term rehab without tranquilizers.


                    • #11
                      I do feel you.

                      I sunk $2500 into my mare last winter to treat her for ulcers...I didn't even pay tha tmuch for her. Now, she's having foot troubles (underrun heels, thrush, etc) and the farrier costs have been killing me. NOW...she is having tummy troubles again! I feel like it will never end. I just pay off a vet bill, and here comes another one...

                      I do know that when she is gone (she is 20) I am having only one horse...and hope that he doesn't suck my bank account dry...
                      "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


                      • #12
                        What BuddyRoo said. If he is sick that often, his quality of life is not what it should be. The fact that in between he is healthy and happy only makes things harder, and increases the guilt, I imagine, if you were to euth him. But at some point you will be mentally/physically/financially unable to keep up what you are doing. There's nothing selfish about ending the vicious cycle sooner rather than later. But like you, I would be struggling with the same feelings.

                        If you do have other options for a home for him, maybe let him go to them, as long as they are aware of his history. Someone else will have to make the decision to euth him or spend the time and money.


                        • #13
                          Cry on; this is a very tough position to be in. You have some good suggestions for trying to steady his digestive system, and I do agree with those who say to consider euthing him because the colic episodes are taking a lot out of you -- and HIM!

                          I have my own issues to cry about, mostly in the form of a mare who isn't quite sound, and is old enough that we're probably stalled out at Training/First Level dressage. I've cut back from two lessons per week to one, and may discontinue the weekly trainer rides. (Note at the moment I'm bringing her back from an injury, so we are doing no lessons or trainer rides.)

                          OTOH, in making lemons out of lemonade, she is an awesome horse to ride and have fun with... and, with all the time/energy/money I spend dealing with my elderly father, I am not going to be able to be serious about competition until he passes on... which could be years. So I have the perfect horse to bum around on while I wait.
                          You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                          1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


                          • #14
                            Sorry to hear about your horse. If he is getting sick so often and there is nothing you can do to cure/prevent it, then I would consider putting him down. I know that sounds harsh, but you are exhausting your financial, physical and emotional resources, not to mention HE doesn't enjoy being sick, either. I completely understand loving a horse and not wanting them to go. But at the same time, think about what this is costing you (and him.)
                            I saw the angel in the marble and I set him free. - Michaelangelo


                            • #15
                              I wish I were able to convince some friends of mine to euthanize those kinds of horses.

                              OP, when you feel you have had enough then go ahead and put the horse down. We had to put an old horse down at my farm a few days ago. And one of my favorite horses is going to 'get it' sometime in the near future also.

                              I've done it enough times that I know the sun still comes up the next day. It sucks, and I felt bad for starting the vet's day out badly by having her run out first thing in the morning to kill a horse. But it's a part of life. You get over it.

                              And for the poster who had a horse she couldn't tranquilize, I have one of these http://www.udderlyez.com/stableizer.php It's a serious tool, but it can be extremely effective.

                              Basically, it is a war bridle done up with modern tools. You put the horse's head in a steel cable vice. No joke. I've had it work pretty darn well, but I think I've only used it 3 times in the 10+ years we've had it.
                              "Friend" me !



                              • #16
                                I feel like I should follow up just to try to illustrate that I'm not a cold hearted asshat.

                                My dog, now a 9 YO lab, has had two major surgeries in the last 10 mos. First one was 8k (last Xmas). Second was 4k (3 weeks ago) and he's still not doing great. Heck, I even put off joining my husband in our new home a few states away due to the dog's health. Prior to that, he's had a few health issues (not his fault--was given some stuff he shouldn't have had) that resulted in 6k and 3k respectively. And lots of long nights of me sleeping on the floor next to him, doing IVs at 3am, valium suppositories, hanging IV bags from my standing lamps, cleaning up vomit, and breaking down in the middle of the night wondering if I'd done the wrong thing or if we'd even make it til morning. I vividly remember one 3am jag out in my backyard with an IV bag in one hand, my dog in the other wondering what the hell I was doing.

                                It is taxing financially (especially now that I do not have my own money) and it is taxing on our relationship because my husband doesn't exactly feel the same about dogs/horses as I do. Although to be fair to me, I laid this stuff out on our very first date and remind him of said convo when he gets crabby.

                                Still, I made a decision that I'm not doing this again. Even if the prognosis is relatively good and we can get through another, I'm just not doing it. It's hard on my dog, it's hard on me, it's hard on our family finances, and it's hard on my marriage to be frank.

                                So...I do get it. I've been there with horses too, but not to the same level. I wish you the best. ((hugs))
                                A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                                • #17
                                  Think of every horse as a learning experience.

                                  Then ask yourself what you have learned from this horse so far. If you have learned what you could by keeping him going, ask if there is something you'd like to learn in choosing to let him go-- euthanizing him, retiring him, whatever. Or perhaps there are things you *need* to learn and don't want to-- stuff about asking for help, quitting (if you are bad at giving up the way I am), or putting your needs ahead of an animal's or a dream.

                                  Also, do you feel that you have a good team of people supporting you with what you are doing with this horse? A vet you like? Is DH onboard or an obstacle? Many times, we'll feel willing to keep going if we feel like other people are in there with us.
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat


                                  • #18
                                    I'm about your age and have been in horses most of my life too. I completely understand where you are coming from. While horses have brought me much joy in my life, sometimes I feel like more of it has been hearbreak and struggle.

                                    And lately my horse has felt like more and more of a burden that I'll never be able to get out from under. It's literally been years since I have been able to ride consistently and it is starting to really wear on me.

                                    This confession would shock most people who know me. I have always been that crazy, willing to do anything for my horse, obsessed person. Most people who haven't seen me in awhile ask "how is the horse" first before they ask how I am.

                                    I've even started thinking about all the things I could do with my money if I didn't have a horse - not something I have ever worried about before.

                                    At this point I'm not sure what is going to happen in the future - I'm still holding out one last hope that I can get my horse sound. If not, I may step away for a while. I don't think that I'll ever be able to get horses out of my blood - it's part of who I am. I'm sure that's the case for you as well.

                                    But if you need to take a break to maintain your sanity there is no shame in that! I wish you the best with your horse!


                                    • #19
                                      hugs to you too PP. ((hugs))
                                      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                      Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                                      • #20
                                        Wow, hugs to all of you dealing with sick/injured animals (and people!) over the Holidays. Or any time for that matter. It is so taxing physically and emotionally. I will keep you all in my prayers and hope things get better soon, but I will also agree with the posters who have said there is no shame in humane euthing, especially when they are sick over and over.
                                        If you love me let me go....