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To retire or not to retire?

(21 Posts)
willyoulistentome Sun 07-Apr-13 19:15:37

I could do with some input on a bit of a dilemna. My horse is 21 and has has metabolic syndrome, which means I have to be very careful about her diet so as to avoid laminitis. She can't live out, but does manage a full day in the field at the moment at least, she will have resticted grazing once the grass starts to grow.

She also has pretty bad navicular which is controlled by daily bute. Up to a couple of months ago, she was also on Navilox daily until Navilox was discontinued and is now on Crysanthysomething (can never remember the name). Because of the navicular I no longer jump her and have to be very careful about the going when I ride her. uneven ground can mean weeks of lameness. These health issues and her age mean that loaning her out is not really an option.

I have two primary school aged kids, one with AS, which causes lots of stress. I started back FT at work a year ago and since then, have only managed to ride say once a week at most. The girls at the yard very kindly ride her for me 2 or 3 times a week without charging full livery, but just buckle end hacking. No school, so no school work and the lady who rides her is not able to get her in an outline out on hacks. I don't feel I can start to demand they school her rather than just hack, as they are doing me a favour anyway. In the last few months she has started to look really old. Her once impressive topline has vanished and she has started going a little bit grey all over. She is getting stiff and old feeling. I haven't made it to the yard for a coupe of weeks and today, I noticed that her back muscles have dropped so much that her saddle is not giving enough space over the spine. Even while her saddle was still OK, she has started to get a bit joggy and naughty while out riding. She has NEVER been like this before. I put it down to lack of work. She is not the once easy ride that she was, but I do think she still enjoys getting out and about. She is still very forward going and always has her ears pricked.

As I said I have a son with AS, which means I always feel in a rush to get home when I do ride, as DH and DS rub each other up the wrong way, and DH gives me grief if I am out too long. To be brutally honest, I am really not enjoying riding, as I can't do it often enough for me to make any difference to the way she goes or to her fitness, and I am made to feel guilty for going off riding by the family.

I am thinking of retiring her, and just hoping that the lack of exercise doesn't set the metabolic syndrome off.

What do you all think? Would that be terrible and defeatist? I feel guilty about that too.

chocolatecakeystuff Sun 07-Apr-13 21:18:09

What do you mean by retire? Being put out to pasture isn't really an option for her....

Have you looked at any options for her? Had a vet out re the change in her condition & behaviour? Sounds to me like there may be a medical reason behind it.
Could be as simple as needimg her teeth doing?

willyoulistentome Sun 07-Apr-13 22:30:56

I mean stop riding her and let the girls at the yard know to stop riding her too. You are right - grass livery is not an option as laminitis would get her for sure. I just mean leave her on part livery, but never ride her again. I feel 21 is a bit young to give up yet, as she is sound most of the time and happy. I just have no time to ride her properly and loaning sharing isn't a realistic option either, as there are so many younger, sounder, fitter, horses on the market for a loaner or sharer at the moment. She has lost a lot of condition this last year, which co-incides with me riding her less having gone FT at work. She now looks old whereas she looked superb before.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Sun 07-Apr-13 23:52:19

Im going to be honest here and I apologise in advance, but tbh, if I had a horse with these problems who was facing a life with minimal grazing, no proper exercise and probably quite a lot of time spent in a stable, I would have it put to sleep. Its no life. Better to be PTS whilst she still has some quality of life rather than declining and possibly ending up in pain and miserable.

willyoulistentome Mon 08-Apr-13 00:02:54

You are right Saggy it doesn;t sound much of a life, and when the laminitis first kicked in and she was diagnosed with the metabolic thing, at the same time as the navicular was bad I didn;t know if I was ever going to be able to ride her again anyway. I decided then that if that was the case and she could only have an hour a day in the field ( which was the case at the time) that I would have her pts. But she recovered and is fairly much back to normal now soundness wise.. It's just the lack of time for me to keep her properly fit and in proper work. I guess I am going to have to struggle on doing what I am doing. I can;t bear to have her put down when she is OK actually, and the issue is me.

50BalesOfHay Mon 08-Apr-13 01:18:49

OK, the navicular needing daily bute in my book means she should only hack anyway. Is her quality of life (as a happy hacker) acceptable to her? If so, can you maintain it? If that's not ok for her, can you improve it, given your circumstances? You can't move her on to anyone else. You can't retire her to the field. Even if you stop all ridden work she's still going to need quite a lot of daily attention as she can't live out. Have you got the time, or can you get her cared for by someone else? If the answer to any of those questions is no then the question isn't retire or not, it's PTS or not.

DolomitesDonkey Mon 08-Apr-13 08:13:33

I'm with saggy. confused It is no life for this horse sadly. Of course it's a hard decision to make but we keep them alive "for us" not for them.

The navicular and laminitis will all be hooked in with a poor hoof mechanism. At this age all you can look at is pain relief and not aid.

I had to make the decision last year to pts, technically she could've gone out to grass - nice for me right? But the truth was she'd have been in pain each and every single day.

Good luck and I hope you come back to loving it all again. X

frostyfingers Mon 08-Apr-13 10:12:47

You say she is "ok, actually" but reading that list I wouldn't be so sure. You've managed her well so far and she has obviously been ok and enjoying life but it does sound as though there have been fairly dramatic changes recently. I would get the vet out to give her a good check to see if it something easily dealt with, but otherwise I would seriously consider having her put down.

She's stiff, sore on her feet and restricted to hanging around a stable - that's not going to help her at all. It is a hard decision to make when there isn't any one obvious life threatening ailment, but quality of life is vital and you need to consider that above everything else. Don't think you are being unkind by thinking about it, in many circumstances t is the kindest thing you can, although it is also the hardest.

willyoulistentome Mon 08-Apr-13 12:51:31

At the moment she is sound foot-wise, and has been for quite a long time. Purely because of the drugs, and because I am damn careful where I take her. For example I know I can't take her over hard rutted ground at the moment as it would twist her foot and make her lame. We stick to softish wood tracks and raods where I know she wil be OK. If it freezes I have to be careful as the ground goes hard. She is a little stiff when I first get on. Loosens up quickly. She gets about 8 hours in the field daily at the moment, It will be dropped to half a day once the grass comes up. Moving her would be difficult, as to keep up her work I would then have to pay full livery, which I can't afford. She is happy at the moment with her 4 hacks per week and 8 hours in the field with the others in the yard who are on more or less the same routine. She is pretty good and relaxed in stable - not showing any signs of stress.
I have booked the vet to come and check her teeth and give her the once over generally to see of there is anything else going on, and the saddler is booked to look at her saddle. I think I am going to try to stick to the current regime for a while longer, hard though it is time-wise and family wise.

Arrianne Thu 18-Apr-13 15:34:14

I am very sorry but I too think that you should start to consider having her PTS. She can't retire to a field and is on medication. I too have a 20 year old who has had lammi. She lost loads of condition this winter for the first time ever but it has been a particularly long hard winter. Luckily she is sound so I can ride her several times a week but like you, time is an issue with small children. I only mention this as this issue is something i think about alot.You have obviously looked after her extremely well but things are getting hard now. The brave thing to do may well be the right thing. I wish you and your mare the best.

dappleton Fri 19-Apr-13 11:31:01

Willyoulistentome - I think your last post is sensible, I agree with the others that it's more of a decision of continue as now or PTS rather than retire but 8hrs a day grazing plus hacking 4 times per week sounds like a fairly average routine for any 21yr old horse with ailments. The question is whether she is enjoying her life or in constant pain. If she's enjoying herself I would continue and just feel less guilty about the days when you don't get to see her, it sounds as though she is surrounded by people that care for her. To make family life easier - would your DC not go with you to visit her even if you couldn't ride on those days?

carabos Fri 19-Apr-13 17:15:48

Sorry but I agree with saggy. If this was my horse I would PTS sad.

DolomitesDonkey Fri 19-Apr-13 17:39:00

I've been worrying about this post for a week and now I just have to say it.

Please put this horse to sleep ASAP.

It has constant pain which is now exhibiting itself through behavioural issues.

Phone the vet now and make an appointment for Monday so you can spend the weekend saying goodbye.

Keeping this horse alive AND working it is incredibly cruel. confused

willyoulistentome Mon 22-Apr-13 21:35:09

Dolomites. Shes not in constant pain. If i thought that i would not be thinking twice about asking the vet to PTS. I think shes jogging cos her saddle needs sorting. Her feet are not bothering her and on the whole i would say she still enjoys life. Believe you me, the issue of whether to retire, get saddle looked at and continue as we were or whether indeed to have her put down is on my mind constantly too. The vet wants to re do
bloods in 3 weeks re loss of condition. I will have a further discussion with him then when results come back as to best and kindest course of action.

DolomitesDonkey Tue 23-Apr-13 11:07:24

In your first post you say she's on daily bute (a pain-killer) due to bad navicular.

She gets laminitis. This further affects the hoof. It is painful.

She is stiff. Because she's in pain.

She has started to have behavioural problems - I'd guess because she's in pain.

I'm sorry you feel this way.


willyoulistentome Tue 23-Apr-13 12:34:42

Yes, she's on daily bute. So? It stops her discomfort from Navicluar. She had one attack of laminitis 2 years ago, but recovered well and is sound. It has not recurred. She's a BIT stiff, but shes 21. kind of goes with the territory.

The behaviour change was jogging when ridden - homeward bound only actually.. The saddler suggested a type of pad to go under the saddle until they can get there to look. We are using it and she didn't actually jog at all lasst time I rode her.

I plan to make a decision regarding her future after consultation with my VET. I can't see what is wrong with that?

frostyfingers Tue 23-Apr-13 13:48:40

You did ask for input willyou - you've had some. You may not like it, or agree with it but it's what you asked for.

willyoulistentome Tue 23-Apr-13 14:31:55

Fair enough.

I'll still ignore anyone who thinks I should take random internet advice before listening to a vet's though!

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Tue 23-Apr-13 15:07:34

Actually, Bute is a Non steroidal anti inflammatory. Not a pain killer. WillYou it sounds like you are reassessing the situation regularly, which is really good. Its never easy to manage an old friends last years. I dont envy you at all. x

taurusmum85 Sun 28-Apr-13 22:17:45

Hi iv joined this a bit late but after having an old horse for a long time and seen other people in similar situation to you I think youl know yourself when the time is right to pts you know your horse better than anyone so if the vet says she's stable then iv found a good way to exercise is lunging a ten mins lunge is like 20 minutes riding so it's time efficient and when I get some spare time I tske my mare for a long walk in hand and if there's room on the walk a lunge to to let her burn off some energy x

Lovesswimming Mon 29-Apr-13 10:40:31

hi Willyou, just posting as I have a mare who is much younger but retired due to a suspensory ligament injury over a year ago. when I bought her she was fat and got stress laminitis within 2 days of coming home. I have got 70 kilos off her in the 1st year and she has never had a repeat attack (2 years ago now), she hates box rest and my decision has been that should she ever get any illness (lami or anything else) that requires more than 2 weeks box rest I will PTS (she changes mentally when on box rest, does not cope well and I've had to do it twice once with the Lami and once with the suspensory) I now let her live out on short grass and keep her weight down. I've decided if she cant live like that then the best thing would be to PTS. In your position I would stop riding and possibly have her on livery that has her out in the day and in at night? helping with keep some weight off but going out will help her not stiffen. she could be taken out for in hand walks if anyone has time to do this; then if she doesnt cope then yes maybe its time to PTS. though keeping her like that is expensive especially on full livery. I have mine at home so can do this (well for one, I'd be stuffed if it happened to more!) is there anywhere that has poor grazing so she can continue to be out all day? or reverse it to in in the day and out at night?
I hope your vet can find something on the bloods and I wish you well with your decisions, you sound like you have been and are doing your best for her

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