Gutted - time to retire?

noblesteed

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Just wanting people's poinions as I am finding this all very difficult and it's making me really sad :(
I have had my 18 yo horse for nearly 10 years. He's now just a hack since being diagnosed with bone spavin 4 years ago. A symptom was being disunited in canter so we can't school any more. He's had a few years of steroid injections in his hocks but each time he got mild lami. He had lami this spring just before his injections were due - I think from frosted grass - so I decided not to have his injections. I don't think it's fair to give him lami any more because each time he gets it it gets worse. The vet agrees with that. The vet also thinks he has EMS as, despite being thin, he's so sensitive to sugars. Cushing tested negative.
He has started to go lame in front after shoeing - farrier suspects some sort of arthritis in his feet/joints in front. He recommended removing shoes altogether next time.
I have struggled all summer to get him to any level of fitness. His stride is short and he tires quickly. Some days are better than others but he's gone from being a horse who wants to gallop across the fields to barely wanting to break into a trot. He's been given devil's claw in a feed before riding and this now makes no difference at all.
Add to this he has started head shaking with low sunlight.
On tuesday I gave him his devil's claw pain relief 10 mins before riding, we walked down the hill and along the road to the beach which is his absolute favourite ride. We got onto the sand where he usually likes to have a canter and he just didn't want to go. I didn't force him, I tried to get him to trot and he wouldn't. We had a paddle and walked home, me in floods of tears!
Today I went to ride on the beach with some bute to try, but I didn't have the heart to ride when I got him in. Poor guy. I'm just so gutted my best mate with whom I have had so much fun can't manage it any more. And I don't want to ride him if he's in pain :(

Horse is not insured any more due to heap of exclusions imposed when he bust up his annular ligament a few years ago. (That healed fine.)

Got the vet coming next week but I wondered if anyone has any advice? I guess try barefoot and on bute. Failing that retire him.
 

ihatework

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He would definitely be on bute if he was mine. And probably cartrophen/pentosan.
If he is so sensitive to grass it might be worth trialling low dose prascend.

As for ridden work, from what you describe, I would want him far more comfortable and brighter in himself whilst on medication before even contemplating riding
 

be positive

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It may be time to fully retire him but before doing that try getting the dose of DC right, it needs to build up over a period of time to be effective not be given as an instant pain relief, it certainly will not work 10 mins after being given, the same to an extent with bute a dose will give some relief but the accumulative effect on the inflammation is what you are aiming for, so he feels better for longer periods of time not just a short period so you can ride him, riding regularly should help the arthritis so if you can get the pain relief right, it may mean a bit of a loading dose initially, you may find he can continue.
 

Pearlsasinger

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TBh, I'm not sure I would even want to keep him in the field, if he is so uncomfortable. I have always thought that Devil's Claw had a build up effect, so not just a dose before work but regular daily doses. We have had an arthritic horse on regular bute with no problem. You have to balance the longterm benefits/problems.
We are just about to test one of ours with the more accurate/sensitive Cushings test (THR?) because although her ACTH level is within range, we are suspicious of her symptoms, I would ask your vet to do that test too.
I have had good results with an arthritic horse with magnetic wraps, they don't work for all horses but might be worth a try for yours.

I hope you get him sorted out.
 

Puddock

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I second the Cartrophen. If the vet thinks it's suitable, ask them to show you how to inject it yourself - that way you only pay for the script and about £60 per dose. My old guy (26 year old) is going great guns on it. He's a big, heavy horse too / the type you rarely see still in work at that age. He has arthritis in his fetlocks and probably elsewhere too. Never got much of an effect from steroid injections. He has Cartrophen every 3 months, so costs no more than feeding a joint supplement. He also has turmeric in his feeds, which has helped immensely.
 

ester

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Sounds like he needs to be on some sort of pain relief regularly. I agree that from what you have described I probably wouldn't be riding him though I might walk him depending on his turnout situation etc.

I'd worry from what you say whether he is bilaterally lame in front (shoeing and short striding).

I wouldn't worry about getting any sort of fitness on an older horse with issues, my own just does what he feels up to.
 

Orangehorse

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I have been faced with a similar situation with my horse that I have owned for 17 years, although he hasn't as many problems as yours.

Mine is on Danilion and a joint supplement and I have been told to be guided by his behaviour. If he doesn't want to do it, pulls a face when the tack is put on, doesn't want to trot/go down hills, etc. etc. then that is the time to retire.

I have been told no schooling, no lunging, although I thought I might be able to do a bit of "horse agility" type thing if he got to the stage of not being ridden.

It is gutting, I can imagine what you are going through. It is heartbreaking when they don't want to do something that you know they used to enjoy.
 

Apercrumbie

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Until recently I was in a similar position. We suddenly lost our 22yr old to sudden colic last week, but in the past year he had developed arthritis in his neck. On bad days, he hated going downhill, felt all doddery and unbalanced and I seriously considered retiring him. When he felt great though, he felt really great! Going out for hacks made him happy so we decided to give him bute before riding him so he loosened up quicker. He was on nobute in his feed to keep him comfy in the field. Eventually we would have had to retire him, but we decided that we wanted him to have a good quality of life until then and so gave him bute. We had quite a few people telling us that it was a silly solution, and you couldn't just keep giving a horse bute, but I won't have my horse in pain so for us it was the only solution.

OP in the case of both your horse and mine, we aren't talking about competition horses. They are (or were) approaching the end of their ridden life so it doesn't necessarily matter if you're "buting to ride" for a condition like arthritis. Your vet will be able to guide you if it is a bad idea or not - ours was of the firm belief that it would do him good, which it did. Obviously do consult your vet though - your horse is a different case. Lack of movement is the worst thing for arthritis so if you can keep him moving, do.
 

honetpot

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Really for any sort of pain relief to work it has to be given regularly, whether there are symptoms of pain or not. It has to be absorbed and a certain amount in the blood to work. I would be giving two bute a day until he was pain free and then reducing the dose.
I think you need a really good equine vet to work out a plan, that covers all his issues. For now I would stop riding him.
 

Kamikaze

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I would give a proper big loading dose ( 2 twice a day for 2 days then 1 twice a day for a further week) then maintenance dose of Bute. Try for 2 weeks. Then see how he is. Keep him on a Bute every day. I rode Minto like this, hacking 3 or so days a week for another 3 years until something unrelated got him. Vet was very happy for this. We set a line though that if he wasn't comfortable on one a day then he would be fully retired. He never lost his spark tho and I spent 3 years telling him if he would just canter sensibly he would get to do it more often!
 

atropa

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I wouldn't necessarily think he needs to retire but I do think you need to get him a lot comfier. I'd look at the pain management, I don't think there's really any harm in a bute a day for a gentle hack. I would also consider maybe taking his shoes off and seeing if barefoot makes him any more comfortable.
Having said that, 10 years of fun out of him isn't bad going and I'd be happy to retire at this stage if I didn't feel like putting him through more trial and error.
 

moleskinsmum

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My horse's fieldmate is 24 this year. He went through a period of intermittent lameness a couple of years ago, had joint injections and some sort of electrotherapy on his tendons and remedial shoeing. The vet said no schooling, although he can go in the school if no circling is involved.

However, he went barefoot last autumn and has never been better - never lame since. My friend gives him a daily dose of No Bute and he is ridden in hoof boots gently but regularly to keep everything moving. We took both our horses away in June for a couple of days and he did some decent length hacks at every speed and even had a play on the cross country course, managing to put in the odd "whay hay" buck! Her conclusion is that keeping him comfortable and moving is key to his well being. He is a bit of a grump and doesn't look forward to work but that is nothing new. Once out, it's generally a different story. We tailor our hacking to how he feels on that day but he is quite happy to do two hours or more most of the time.

If you can get the pain under control, you may find your boy is much happier and gets a new lease of life.
 

noblesteed

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Thanks guys. We're pretty sure he's EMS but only very slighty - he's andalusian which are prone to being very feed sensitive.
I hadn't realised about the devils claw being cumulative so I will make sure he gets it every day. I had stopped feeding daily for autumn in preparation for the grass flushing! He has also started refusing turmeric in his feed, so I have stopped that for now. I will have a look at the feed store to see what I can feed him that's tasty without being full of sugar so I can get him to eat it - it's a minefield feeding him!
Good idea about the magnets, haven't tried those.
Hopefully the vet will have more ideas too.
 

Clodagh

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TBh, I'm not sure I would even want to keep him in the field, if he is so uncomfortable. I have always thought that Devil's Claw had a build up effect, so not just a dose before work but regular daily doses. We have had an arthritic horse on regular bute with no problem. You have to balance the longterm benefits/problems.
We are just about to test one of ours with the more accurate/sensitive Cushings test (THR?) because although her ACTH level is within range, we are suspicious of her symptoms, I would ask your vet to do that test too.
I have had good results with an arthritic horse with magnetic wraps, they don't work for all horses but might be worth a try for yours.

I hope you get him sorted out.
I am glad you said that, if he cannot even walk properly on a hack , should he be in a field?
 

noblesteed

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He has to be in a field, he's got arthritis. Imagine how stiff he would get in a stable!
He's happy in the field moving about, he had a trot and a bit of a canter today when I put him back in the starvation paddock. He wasn't happy but it's been too sunny for him to stay in the big field.
He does get low grade lami but this lameness isn't that. I can tell when he's a 'bit lami' - his fetlocks feel slightly fuller than normal, and his pulses are raised. At present these are all fine.
Vet's cming friday so hopefully we'll get somewhere.
 
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The other thing you could try him on is boswellia. Gentle on the stomach, and an excellent anti-inflammatory. My big wb is thriving on it.
Agree with this. I'm hugely sceptical of anything herby or spicey but a daily dose of boswellia plus the supplement below has kept my horse much more comfortable. I have Danilon on standby for days where she looks a bit stiff or sore. We go for gentle hacks and I just let myself be guided by her. Some days it takes a while for her to loosen up, other days I struggle to control the bouncing!

https://www.hyperdrug.co.uk/Nilbute-Equine/productinfo/NIL1000/
 

ester

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I don't think anyone was suggesting keeping him in a stable?? Just that if he is that uncomfortable it might be time to call it a day completely but perhaps those posters can clarify?

I'm a big fan of boswellia too but like the devils claw etc it can only help so much an given the description of this horse in front I'm not convinced it would be anywhere near sufficient.

Hope you get on ok with the vet on friday.
 

Clodagh

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I don't think anyone was suggesting keeping him in a stable?? Just that if he is that uncomfortable it might be time to call it a day completely but perhaps those posters can clarify?

I'm a big fan of boswellia too but like the devils claw etc it can only help so much an given the description of this horse in front I'm not convinced it would be anywhere near sufficient.

Hope you get on ok with the vet on friday.
Yes, that is what I meant. Horses can be very stoical and if he has lost his spark it would worry me.
 

stencilface

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OP your horse sounds a bit like mine, he's 17 and has good days and bad days and I'm just figuring out what pain relief (natural- currently trying devils relief) and joint supplements I can give him. He's also part luso and EMS is something I've considered too, although he doesn't have any symptoms bar the lami, he does get gassy colic if he gets too much.

For him i think without exercise he will get worse so currently my plan is to hack in walk and dismount for steep bits (struggles downhill) and to lunge but just go large, basically a large horse walker lol
 
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stormox

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It is also quite dangerous IMO to ride a horse who is unsound. A horse can fall very suddenly and unexpectedly if one of the legs goes. A friend of mine had a crashing fall and was lucky not to get trapped when her slightly arthritic Irish Draught suddely came down on the road.
 
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