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Feeling like I am giving up on my mare.

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  • Feeling like I am giving up on my mare.

    After 4 years of battling various major and minor injuries with my 15 year jumper /equitation horse I finally had her back to full work and was showing, taking lessons and she was finally normal both mentally and physically. Then on Monday evening I was cantering and she came up dead lame in the left leg that she hurt 2 times before. Vet was out tonight and blocked her and it appears to be the knee she had surgery on 2.5 years ago. She is lame at the walk so we are heading into the university and will most likely inject or do IRAP to get her comfortable again. Vet thinks we can get her comfortable enough for light riding but no jumping. I can afford for her to live at her current barn in her stall with daily turnout where she is extremely happy. She loves people and being pampered which I intend to do that for her lifetime. She is not a candidate for pasture or herd living as she is clear that she wants in from turn out after 2 hours and does not like other horses . I can afford a 2nd horse if I take her out of her therapeutic shoes, monthly polyglycan, very high end joint supplements etc and just let her be a "normal" horse. Money will be tighter and showing far less frequent but it is doable. Problem is a feel guilty, like I am giving up on her and taking away from her to get a new horse I can ride and jump. Am I just being ridiculous ? This is my heart horse and she has given me so much and recovered from career ending injuries several times. I just want to do right by her.
    Last edited by luv my paint; Apr. 26, 2013, 05:32 AM. Reason: Posted too soon

  • #2
    No. Giving up would be PTS, chucking her in a field somewhere where you never see her (even though you know she isn't suited to it), dumping her somewhere...

    If she is to be retired, she should be "pasture sound" meaning comfortable on minimal meds/corrective shoeing if not in work. I mean by all means ask your vet if she can handle it but I think you're doing right by her, just being realistic.

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    • #3
      No, that isn't giving up. That is excepting the fact that she is no longer capable of that work and doing the right thing and finding her a job she is comfortable at. I had the same thing with my eventer. He was not going to be comfortable at the upper levels anymore and even though he was still young, he was 10 or 11, I gave him to a good friend for her to use as a dressage horse. He is now 20 and still going strong.

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      • #4
        Unfortunately, this is one of the things which Wayne at HSUS monitors, including via comments on this and similar boards. It sounds like you plan to stand behind this mare and give her a comfortable retirement.
        But, HSUS, will be looking for any little part they disagree with. HSUS considers any use of horses for dressage, hj, sport, etc. as cruelty. When they can point to injuries, they will.
        Good luck with your mare and thank you for trying to do the right thing, even if it isn't easiest!

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        • #5
          Don't feel guilty. Consult your vet about moving her from a performance horse to a light pleasure mount. It sounds like she will have a great retirement. Go find a horse you can ride and jump. Enjoy BOTH of them.
          Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule
          http://www.ironwood-farm.com

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          • #6
            Originally posted by 7arabians View Post
            Unfortunately, this is one of the things which Wayne at HSUS monitors, including via comments on this and similar boards. It sounds like you plan to stand behind this mare and give her a comfortable retirement.
            But, HSUS, will be looking for any little part they disagree with. HSUS considers any use of horses for dressage, hj, sport, etc. as cruelty. When they can point to injuries, they will.
            Good luck with your mare and thank you for trying to do the right thing, even if it isn't easiest!
            Really? How was that helpful to the poster at all?

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            • #7
              There's nothing to feel guilty about. You're getting her comfortable and listening to the vets reccomnedation and providing a well deserved quality retirement. She will still be loved and cared for. There is no reason you cannot love 2 horses and it sounds like you are able to properly care for 2.
              Epona Farm
              Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

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              • #8
                Originally posted by luv my paint View Post
                I can afford a 2nd horse if I take her out of her therapeutic shoes, monthly polyglycan, very high end joint supplements etc and just let her be a "normal" horse.
                Will she be comfortable in her retirement without the therapeutic shoes, injections and supplements? For her to be comfortable and not in any pain these items might still be necessary.

                As an example, my retired Cushings horse is the most expensive horse we maintain, special front shoes, pergolide, vit. e suppliment, timothy cubes ($25/50 lb. bag), etc. His quality of life would be miserable without all those items and only tolerable if we choose a few.

                I have no problem with retiring a horse that is not sound for you as long as the retired horse still gets top notch care.

                Good luck!

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                • #9
                  Making very difficult, GOOD decisions that are in the best interests of all parties is the opposite of giving up. You are actively thinking, caring, investigating. Very hard work when it is a change of plans/dreams. Take a breath and give yourself credit. Best wishes.

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                  • #10
                    This mare is fortunate to have you as an owner. Best wishes with her and whatever you decide.
                    Alis volat propriis.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by 7arabians View Post
                      Unfortunately, this is one of the things which Wayne at HSUS monitors, including via comments on this and similar boards. It sounds like you plan to stand behind this mare and give her a comfortable retirement.
                      But, HSUS, will be looking for any little part they disagree with. HSUS considers any use of horses for dressage, hj, sport, etc. as cruelty. When they can point to injuries, they will.
                      Good luck with your mare and thank you for trying to do the right thing, even if it isn't easiest!
                      You seriously need medical help if you honestly believe this.

                      OP- You are a very considerate owner. Your horse is lucky to have you.

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                      • #12
                        You're definitely not giving up on her. It sounds to me like you're doing what's right for her at this point in her life. Get a comfy bareback pad for her so you can enjoy pasture strolls when she's up to it and don't feel guilty finding another horse to ride & jump.

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                        • #13
                          Your not giving up on her, and time off may be just what she needs. Sometimes they just need to be a horse for a while.

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                          • #14
                            Sounds like she will be perfectly happy being a spoiled rotten pasture puff. Give her a year off, go find a horse to lease and enjoy, and maybe reassess in a year. You'd be surprised at what time off can do for a horse. Plus "light riding" definitely does not mean you can't have a ton of fun with her. In-hand work, ground driving, trail rides, obstacle courses, basic dressage...there ARE a lot of possibilities.

                            Don't feel guilty, if you have a happy horse on your hands you have NO reason to feel guilty. The only reason you should ever feel guilty is if her quality of life isn't good anymore (and you don't do anything about it) or you decide to dump her at an auction...neither of which will happen from the sound of you post. You shouldn't feel guilty about wanting to have a horse you can ride and jump, you're supposed to enjoy having horses, and have fun with them!

                            One thing I would suggest though is to get her as much turnout as possible. Even if she is miss prissy mare, more turnout would probably be good for her.
                            come what may

                            Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

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                            • #15
                              OP, you are doing fine.

                              In your shoes, however, I'd have to think a bit about cutting down on shoes or treatments that the retired one needed** as part of the budget for the next horse.

                              **Defining "need" is key. How lame is the mare without shoes or joint injections? If she's not "show ring sound," so what? If she's not "hack around the farm 2 x a week with some bute on those days," that might also be a "so what?" question. If she starts to get angry without that activity, then it matters. If she looks like crap even standing around/moving around in her own paddock without those expensive things, I think she does need them. Then again.... if a horse can't get around alone in a paddock that would be "in the ground" lame by my standards.

                              I think you know what I'm trying to say: You need to include a "decent by the horse's standards" retirement for her. Or accept that you actually don't want to do that and then from that place of candor, figure out what you want to do.

                              Been there, doing that.

                              ETA: With respect to your original question: You aren't giving up by stopping the spending necessary to try to keep a horse as sound as you'd like it to be for your purposes. The only way we do give up on them is by not showing up to honestly evaluate their quality of life, or ignoring that, or refusing to do things that we reasonably can to help them enjoy the time they do have left.

                              ETA2: There are plenty of horses who would like it if we "gave up" on taping them together to get to one more summer of horse showing. I retired one from the show ring because I didn't want to do that to him.... it sucks to come out every day and ask just how lame your horse is. So no worries about quitting on the show career. Just keep the other stuff that your mare likes!
                              The armchair saddler
                              Politically Pro-Cat

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                              • #16
                                Just to give you my experience. Our older arab mare (now 24) we "retired" from the show ring at 21 after she went top 5 at regionals with the best ride of her life! Although we kept riding her, she was not in training. After about 4 months, she literally started to fall apart. Vet said time to stop really working her. I ended up having to put all my horses in pasture for financial reasons, even tho I was terribly afraid this mare would hate it (she has in the past). Well, she got used to it. My DD would ride her bareback several days a week, just at whatever speed maresy choose. then a few months later the new instructor at the barn asked if she could use her for walk/trot only lessons for the wee ones. So my daughter said yes. Pretty soon mare was getting sounder (she has a really arthritic knee) and more energetic. Now a year later, mare wants to canter (vet had said no more canter) but mare wants to, and she looks better than ever. So she is having a very happy semi retirement, getting lots of love and play time with DD, and is sounder than she has been for a long time. So it can be done, and they can be very happy. Oh and we pulled hind shoes, she told us she needs the front (sore without), took her off joint meds and knee injections, and put her on previcox instead, and she is doing better than on the expensive stuff. Did keep her on msm tho, its cheap and it helps her.

                                Good luck to you for making the right choice for your mare.

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                                • #17
                                  OP, you're doing well by this mare.

                                  It sounds like you may want to move from a "treatment" mindset to a "pain management" mindset. E.g. if you pull her shoes, stop the expensive treatments etc. and put her on previcox and she's comfortable, that would be OK.

                                  I've been on a similar but not as extreme rollercoaster with my mare for over 3 years... surgery, expensive treatments, time off, etc. so I have been thinking a lot about wht will happen when it's time to step back from her. Right now (after using IV Tildren as a "last resort") she is sound and happy but I know this won't last forever.
                                  You have to have experiences to gain experience.

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

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