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Think it’s time to PTS and I’m heartbroken

46 replies

ToWorryOrNot · 22/04/2023 22:53

I literally feel like I’m losing my mind and just need to talk things through. I honestly can’t think straight and have been crying pretty constantly for the last few days.

I have a pony who really is one in a million. I’ve owned her for 2 years and she’s 25 now. She had intermittent lameness last summer when the ground was so hard, then in the autumn I had her hocks and coffins injected. She wasn’t ridden that much over the winter due to horrible weather and also because she suffers from
mallenders, which flared up really badly and was obviously going to be sore for her.

Over the last couple of months I’d finally got her mallenders under control, and my daughter was bringing her back into work. She took her for a long hack last weekend and then she went hopping lame again. Put her on 2 bute a day but was still looking really lame even in walk by Thursday so got the vet out. She said likely just arthritis, couldn’t see anything else that’s obvious. Did flexion tests and definitely lame on both back legs. Vet advised to keep her on two bute until Monday and then hopefully she’d be looking better by then, and drop down to one. But said basically her ridden days were over, and best we could hope for is field sound.

She’s still not sound, although I think she’s slowly improving on that front, but lamer than you’d want her to look on 2 bute. However, in the last few days she’s had another mega mallanders flare up, even worse than it was in the winter. And now with the flies out and about it’s not ideal to have open sores.

I honestly don’t know what to do, whether to give her more time and hope she improves lameness wise, and go all out trying to fix her mallanders again. Or whether to have her PTS. I guess that would be the obvious thing, but I don’t whether I’m being too hasty? The waters are muddied because I love that pony to pieces, I have a stronger bond with her than any other horse in a lifetime of knowing and owning horses, she really is so special to me and she’s been an amazing pony to so many people over her life.

To complicate matters further, there’s the logistical issues of being at a small yard that I love, it’s close by and I share yard duties with a friend whose pony lives with mine, we have been keeping an eye out for a new horse/pony for a while but the market is ridiculous at the moment, and I don’t have 10 grand to spend. I don’t want to lose my space there but at the same time I don’t want to pay for a space for no pony, it could be another 6 months before we find something! This is very much a side issue and not really relevant to whether or not I have my pony PTS but it is something that’s troubling me.

I have been spending lots of time with my pony over the last few days, just letting her graze nice grass in hand, and sobbing to myself. Honestly it would break me to lose her but also I don’t want her to suffer in any way. I don’t know how I’ve dodged it but I’ve never had to have one put down before, and I am a complete wreck thinking about it. Shooting or injection, neither sound pleasant although I understand that shooting is less traumatic for the horse? She seems quite happy in herself, and although she was so lame when the vet came she was so willing and was quite pleased to go and do some lunging, she always tries her heart out for me and she trusts me so much. I’d be happy to keep her as an expensive pet if I could get her comfortable, but obviously I am just prolonging the inevitable. Also the yard I’m at never allows 24/7 turnout, we’re still on winter routine at the moment due to the wet ground but even when it’s dryer she’ll have to come in during the day. Which the vet said isn’t ideal for her arthritis. However retirement livery would be difficult too, she needs daily attention for her mallenders and legs clipped every two weeks, and is very pink skinned so doesn’t cope well out in the sun…she’s pretty high maintenance.

Help! My head is saying it’s logically the end for her but then as I said she still seems so happy in herself, so maybe I should give her a bit longer and see if she improves enough to be retirement sound?

Sorry for the long ramble.

OP posts:
Parsley1234 · 22/04/2023 22:58

Didn’t want to read and run you’ll know when the time is right. Just take it easy she’s not in pain you could have a look around retirement you never know I’ve done it for my friend and my horse has been lame the last few weeks I was dreading he wasn’t going to go sound and retirement pet was going to be the case. Just wait a bit longer

Aylestone · 22/04/2023 23:05

It doesn’t sound like it’s time for her to go yet. I’m not one for exhausting all avenues when it’s clear they’re suffering and on their way out, but it sounds like you’ve written her off far too early imo. You say it’s ‘delaying the inevitable’ like she’s in agony, completely miserable and at deaths door. Yes it is delaying the inevitable, but only in the way that she’s old and not in the best health and will eventually pass away like all living creatures, you don’t immediately euthanise an animal when it’s getting old and a bit sick though. If you’re happy to keep her as unridden then give her a chance. She was well enough to be put back into work only a couple months ago, she shouldn’t have to be euthanised now she’s no longer useful and her conditions a bit inconvenient for you.

Floralnomad · 22/04/2023 23:08

If she were mine and I thought she was in pain I’d likely make the decision to PTS about it is a difficult decision and I do think if it’s the first one that you’ve lost it makes it even harder purely because of the logistics. We have one retired pony left ( 31) and over the last 40 yrs I’ve had 4 pts , all by injection and it’s always been perfectly ok and I’ve been present throughout . When making your decision do consider what you are doing with the remains , we have ours cremated and that is also not a cheap option . Best wishes whatever you decide 💐

ToWorryOrNot · 22/04/2023 23:18

It’s not that I think she’s inconvenient, it was the vet that said that if she’s not showing considerable improvement by Monday when I have to drop down to one bute a day then I have to consider her quality of life. For her to be still lame even on two bute I would imagine she is in pain? And mallenders can be very painful, the back of one of her knees is really cracked and has open sores which must be very painful every time she moves her leg.

Trust me I’d be happy to keep her to cuddle for another 10 years, but I want to do what’s best for her.

OP posts:
Aylestone · 22/04/2023 23:30

I didn’t mean for my comment to sound judgemental. You’ve just said that the lameness is new, obviously mallenders comes and goes, it’s only just flared up again and you’ve treated it successfully before. I’m not sure what treatments you’ve tried (again don’t mean to sound judgemental) but I’ve found it easy to treat when you’ve found what works for them. I’ve never known mallenders to be a death sentence. It’s just the combination of you sobbing for days over this pony in a million who is ‘so happy in herself’, and is still going through the initial vet treatment which isn’t ending until Monday before you need to review, that’s making me think why is putting her down even an option yet?

KateofGhent · 22/04/2023 23:34

I'm so sorry about your pony OP, you say she seems fine in herself? You know from a horse's eyes and behaviour if they're in pain, I would wait a bit longer too, would only PTS if you feel you are fighting a losing battle and she's obviously in pain. You say you have only kept her for 2 years, it sounds as if she is a real sweetie working her way into your heart. I'm pleased you are spending some quality time with her whatever you decide. (((hugs)))

ZeroWorshipHere · 22/04/2023 23:41

Aylestone · 22/04/2023 23:30

I didn’t mean for my comment to sound judgemental. You’ve just said that the lameness is new, obviously mallenders comes and goes, it’s only just flared up again and you’ve treated it successfully before. I’m not sure what treatments you’ve tried (again don’t mean to sound judgemental) but I’ve found it easy to treat when you’ve found what works for them. I’ve never known mallenders to be a death sentence. It’s just the combination of you sobbing for days over this pony in a million who is ‘so happy in herself’, and is still going through the initial vet treatment which isn’t ending until Monday before you need to review, that’s making me think why is putting her down even an option yet?

a responsible, loving and caring owner doesn’t wait until the horse is “in agony, completely miserable and at deaths door” before they think about the possibility of pts.

Floralnomad · 23/04/2023 00:11

@Aylestone , the OP clearly states in the first post that this pony was intermittently lame through the middle and latter half of last year and is only just coming back into work . This is not a new thing .

AlltheFs · 23/04/2023 00:22

I own a very high maintenance 25 year old with EMS. She’s sound on 1 bute daily although pretty much retired (occasional walk hack when looking really well).
If she was lame on 2 bute I would PTS. If she gets lami again she will be PTS.

Let her go, by injection, this Spring/Summer with the sun on her back. I know it’s horrific but it’s the right thing to do.

I’m aware that every day I might have to make this decision. She’s costing me an absolute fortune and I can’t afford her, but for as long as she’s comfortable and happy I will keep her going. But the minute she’s not it’s time to let go.

And don’t worry about the yard/new horse issue. Right horse/right yard will crop up another time. It’s not relevant, don’t entertain it.

I feel for you though. It’s absolutely shit.

PrincessofWellies · 23/04/2023 00:33

With the two issues going on, plus the age, I wouldn't hesitate in letting it go, it's kinder to do it before they really go downhill.

Kyse · 23/04/2023 00:35

What @AlltheFs said. It won't help because I fully get how horrific it is but take a piece of mane or tail or fur. I had some rings made and they're my biggest comfort

The right horse will come along. I found myself viewing a horse for loan who used to be stabled next to my old horse... a decade earlier. I'm sure he sent her to me

It's awful and I'm sending you a very un MN hug. One thing that might be worth a try for the lameness is boswellia, there's another supplement too which really helped mine, will link if I find it. I know it doesn't help with the mallanders

ToWorryOrNot · 23/04/2023 00:57

That’s what I’m thinking, that although at the moment she’s not at death’s door, she is obviously suffering some discomfort, and do I really want her to get to that point before I have her PTS? The other issue is that she can’t cope with her field mate going away from her, which is going to be happening a few times a week as the other pony is still being ridden, so that’s distressing for her in itself. I’m getting around that at the moment by distracting by taking her out for a graze in hand on nice grass, but I can’t always be there. And I looked into retirement options last year when she went lame and decided against it due to the mallenders and sunburn issues, she really isn’t designed to be out 24/7, although it would benefit her arthritis.

Mallenders on it’s own isn’t a terminal issue but the last few months have been a real battle, a lot of trial and error as she has sensitive skin which reacts to a lot of products. I finally felt like I’d won the battle but that’s suddenly flared up again badly. I had the vet out earlier in the year as she had some really deep sores which just wouldn’t heal, the vet said it was likely to be just because she’s so old that her immune system isn’t quite what it was. Tested negative for cushings in case it was that. But it’s BAD at the moment, and must be very uncomfortable for her although the bute will be helping.

I have to send some videos of her to the vet on Tuesday, and get their advice. I know maybe I’m catastrophising and maybe she will go on a bit longer, but even the prospect of having her PTS is bloody unbearable. She’s such a dear old thing. People say I’ll know when it’s time, but will I? They’re flight animals and hide their pain.

OP posts:
ToWorryOrNot · 23/04/2023 01:00

Thanks @Kyse. Will definitely take some kind of hair related momento when the time comes. She has devils relief every day in her feed, and a really good joint supplement which I’ll keep giving her even though she’s not being ridden. I tried Bosmerix a while back but she wouldn’t go near it - the only thing I’ve found she refuses to eat!

OP posts:
liveforsummer · 23/04/2023 07:25

Maybe see what happens after a week or so on one bute before you start considering - it might settle but like a pp I wouldn't keep an elderly pony suffering who was significantly lame on 2 bute especially when there was other conditions that cause discomfort and pain going on on too. You say she's still well in herself which is a good thing but do you really want to wait til she's not and have that as your last memories of her? There is a saying in vet med 'better a week too soon than a minute too late' it's lovely that she's had such a loving home with you. Fingers crossed that she rallies over the next while

user1471505494 · 23/04/2023 09:58

When I have had to make the decision when to PTS I look at Quality of Life and are they happy or unhappy. I try to take my feelings out of the equation. It is the responsibility of a loving owner to let them go before their suffering becomes too much. I have a lovely Knacker man who comes and puts them down at home and then removes them. It is very quick. One second they are alive the next they aren’t
you will be heartbroken about making the decision it I have always found that the pain starts to ease after they have gone.

ToWorryOrNot · 23/04/2023 12:00

Yes I’ll definitely give it another few days and see how she goes. I’ll take her for a little walk in hand to watch the lambs (she’s obsessed with them) and eat as much cow parsley as she likes, just in case this is her last week. And I know I’ll probably feel better after it’s over, when the time comes, it’s this awful shall I/shan’t I stage which is torturous. She’s being really cute at the moment which isn’t like her, normally she’s a miserable old bag on the ground, which is making things even harder.

OP posts:
Floralnomad · 23/04/2023 12:13

The fact that she’s being pleasant when she’s normally an old bag likely means there is something going on

Aylestone · 23/04/2023 12:35

ZeroWorshipHere · 22/04/2023 23:41

a responsible, loving and caring owner doesn’t wait until the horse is “in agony, completely miserable and at deaths door” before they think about the possibility of pts.

Yes, I completely agree with you. There’s definitely some middle ground between being in agony and at deaths door and being ‘so happy in herself’ before putting to sleep. I’m aware the lameness started before, but it improved enough for the horse to be recently brought back into work. The op seemed distraught at the thought of euthanising her so I’m saying I don’t think she needs to yet. The horse is happy and I’d be surprised if the op couldn’t get her to a place where she can be a happy (albeit expensive) field ornament.

liveforsummer · 23/04/2023 13:15

Floralnomad · 23/04/2023 12:13

The fact that she’s being pleasant when she’s normally an old bag likely means there is something going on

My first thought too

Mollyplop999 · 23/04/2023 16:08

Sending you a hug, I think you know what you need to do but it's heartbreaking.

ToWorryOrNot · 23/04/2023 20:39

Thanks @Mollyplop999

Just got back from the yard and was hoping to see a big improvement but she’s still so stiff, I wouldn’t say lame so much as incredibly stiff on both back legs. Washed her front legs with t gel to get a good look at the mallenders, she’s got the same deep sore back that just wouldn’t heal over the winter. I covered it in filtabac so the flies can’t get into it. She really didn’t want me touching that area though so it just be very sore as usually she doesn’t mind too much.

She’d had a really good roll today though! She’s rolled most days this week, which I guess is a positive as she’s not worried about not being able to get back up again.

OP posts:
Newuser82 · 23/04/2023 20:49

Is she lame where she was lame initially? If you think the long hack has made things worse could you try to get this flare up under control and then either try to retire to the field or build up to ridden work again really slowly? Is re medicating with steroids/arthramid etc a possibility.

It's so hard. I'm fighting to rehab my own horse at the minute from various ailments so I understand and I can get wrapped up in watching her too closely (as said by the vet). Things will come to a head one way or another and you will know when it's the right time. Doesn't make it any easier though I know.

Maverickess · 23/04/2023 21:28

Oh I'm so sorry OP 💐
My old lad has arthritis, he lives out and is never sound, worse on hard ground and worse when he 'forgets' and thinks he's fine and goons around - as pp said, maybe look to getting this flare up under control - a few more days seeing if she's going in the right direction before you make a decision?
I had to do the same about a month ago, I monitored him for about a week with Bute after he had obviously had a whale of a time charging around with the others for a while and sufferers for it.
He's back to normal now, but, he has the advantage of being otherwise fit and healthy and he can live out 24/7. I would be thinking the same way you are with no permanent turn out option and the malanders on top of it, if he had to be stabled or he develops another illness/condition, I would be thinking about quality of life and if sooner is better than later.

Like another pp said, change in personality is often an indicator and always better a week too early than a day too late.

Best wishes OP.

ToWorryOrNot · 23/04/2023 21:42

Last year it was just one of her back legs but at the moment it’s both. Have talked over the options of arthramid or cartrophen with the vet previously and she brought that up again last week as options, I said at this point I think the best thing would be to try and keep her comfortable on bute. She agreed with me, as it’s likely she has aches and pains all over. She’s very high mileage, she’s been an all singing all dancing pony club pony, competing at the highest levels in her past, so there’s a lot of wear and tear.

In another dramatic turn of events, I have been talking to my daughter about whether or not she really wants another horse. She’s decided she doesn’t. Which in a way makes life easier. If my pony is okayed by the vet to be a field ornament, I think what I will do is move her to where I work where she can be on retirement livery and will be out a lot more than she is at the moment. I’ll still be able to keep an eye on her and clip her legs etc. So it’s the end of an era either way…I have two DC with SEN and with work and everything else I feel I’m spread way too thin, so although there will be a huge horse shaped hole in my life at least I still work with them. But quite strange to think that I will soon be selling my trailer, saddles, rugs and all the other paraphernalia I have! Will have to sell it as I have nowhere to keep it.

OP posts:
ToWorryOrNot · 23/04/2023 21:48

Re change of personality - got her in tonight and my daughter rode her best friend (have my mum’s horse staying with me for a few weeks who my pony is very attached to). Normally my mum’s one leaving her sight would send her into a frenzy, but she didn’t bat an eyelid and just wanted to eat her hay. I put her lead rope on because I was planning on taking her out to eat the nice grass for a while but she didn’t want to leave her stable. She’s constantly resting one or other of her back legs. She’s also only eating about half of her breakfast/dinner, and I don’t think it’s the bute as she’s never had a problem with eating bute before.

She’s moulting like crazy and I gathered a whole pocket full of her hair and now it’s in a tub on top of the fridge. Not sure what my long term plan for that is 😂

OP posts:
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