Help me make a rational decision!

poiuytrewq

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This may be long and and a bit rambled sorry but I’d really appreciate any input/ideas suggestion and just what you’d do because I’m really not sure which way to go.
Horse, 11 yr ex racer. Retired due to injury. Injury treated given a long time off, signed off by vets as good to race but his owners kindly decided to let him try another life.
He came to me via a friend she had him a few weeks and test rode for me!
I’ve always been slightly concerned he wasn’t 100% but we carried on and he had been great. Occasionally he’d be slightly off, I’d give him a few days and he’d be fine.
Started tripping, some days really badly, some days (less often) none at all. I never felt he was dangerous and spent ages riding on different surfaces etc as the trips were weird, did he step on something etc
He also became super stiff, wouldn’t bend right and drifted right constantly.
Friend rode him and got her vet to look as she said it wasn’t me, he wasn’t right.
Failed a neuro work up, not in a dire way but a defo fail.
We xrayed his neck, it showed some arthritic changes C5 and 6 (from memory) we medicated this and he improved as in on the ground I can carrot stretch him left which was impossible before, he also passed a tail pull test.
He had lots of time off as the vet wasn’t happy with me riding until we were sure the tripping had stopped.
Since winter he’s had lameness at some point in all 4 legs, had “weird” movement in his off hind always. He’s more often than not lame somewhere.
We have fully xrayed his feet, blocked pain to his hocks and injected both, done physio, chiro
Had copious amounts of different shoes, pads fillers etc, none of which did much.
Umm, bute trials, nothing.
The lameness swaps and changes.
He is insured and I have money left to spend but the insurers are becoming a bit iffy about paying because there is no formal diagnosis.
I had thought he was finally sound and was hacking him out again. The tripping is 95% better. He’s still trying to bend right and drifting. As my stiff side isn’t complementing his I decided to try handing him over for a few weeks. Sh*t or bust type thing so he was booked to go to Sophie Seymour this Monday.
I figured she’d either straighten him up or confirm there was still physical issues…. Exciting!
Til he came in very definitely lame in front last week.
The vet who’s been treating has moved away so used that as the cut off to go back to my own vet.
She came out. Blocked to his off fore fetlock, however during the long time she was here he presented at various times lame on different legs aswell.

So, multi limb lameness. Neck related 🤷‍♀️

She suggested her first port of call now is to X-ray the fetlock and scan that off fore.
She also mentioned a few times it might be better to quite while I’m ahead and cut my losses.
She said it’s a complicated case and is going to run a bit bill up pretty quickly.

I have had all his records and X-rays forwarded to her so she’s currently looking through but has told me to have a think and decide what I want to do.

I’m a bit lost tbh. He’s a nice horse. He suits me, he fits in well here. When things are good I love riding him, it’s awful on bad days though, he makes me really sore through my back and it’s just a horrible ride. Someone once said to me that neurological horses are often just classed as “just horrible to ride” he is the horse I want. But, I can’t afford to pay huge bills if the insurance won’t pay out. (Hence insuring him)
I also don’t really want to commit to retiring him, I’ve only had a few months riding out of him and retirement could be a long long time. It will mean I stop riding.
Umm, there’s probably more, I’m sure I’ve missed stuff but if anyone’s got this far you probably get the drift.
I’m leaning towards telling the vet to start more investigations with the schooling money I’d got together as obv that’s cancelled, then if the insurance messes round I can pay that bit.
In my head I *know he’s not coming right, pretty sure the vet thinks the same.
However I feel if I don’t do everything then I’ll always worry I may have been wrong.

What would you do?
 

LaurenBay

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I would speak with my vet about referring him to a hospital, I would call my insurance before hand to confirm what they will and wont pay. I think your vet is right that it will cost quite a bit to get to the bottom of. I think I would just go for it and have a full work up done at a specialist hospital (if the insurance will pay out)
 

poiuytrewq

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Lyme disease isn’t something that’s come up no. I’ll mention it.
The insurance have said they won’t give permission before hand for anything and are just going to make a decision on each invoice as it go’s in. Super annoying. It means anything we do I have to be able to pay incase.
 

EllenJay

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Lyme disease isn’t something that’s come up no. I’ll mention it.
The insurance have said they won’t give permission before hand for anything and are just going to make a decision on each invoice as it go’s in. Super annoying. It means anything we do I have to be able to pay incase.
I would get your vet to write up a list of procedures that want to carry out, send that to your insurance company and see what they are happy to cover. It's very unfair of them to not confirm prior to you doing expensive tests yourself.
 

poiuytrewq

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I suppose it could still be the neck what about back x rays has that been mentioned?
No, he’s always seemed good through his back. So we haven’t really had the need to. Physio and chiropractor have always said he feels good through his back. However I guess now it’s multi limb that would be a good shout
 

paddi22

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some horses, especially exracers, just never come right, despite all treatments and care. I genuinely believe there are some horses (like people) that will just never be healthy or happy a day in their life due to a mix of issues. the neck arthritis combined with lameness would personally swing me towards PTS in the near future. it's an awful decision to make, but having had horses like this in the past, you can nearly guarantee they will never come right. I've sunk thousands and thousands into some horses in the past and I draw a line now and make the call, it's so tough, but you have to be realistic sometimes.
 

poiuytrewq

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What would I do ?
Give him a short but very nice retirement on some nice drugs while I got my head around it and then PTS .
I ( I live with chronic pain ) won’t keep horse in the situation you describe .
This is the sad thing though, he is absolutely fine in the field. He wouldn’t need drugs and the lameness is difficult because it’s so slight that blocking hasnt been a real option before.
If I were to get on him right now and take him hacking with other people no one would know.
 

poiuytrewq

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Unfortunately when he came in noticeably lame in front last week we were off to a wedding.
By the time the vet got here a few days later she said he was 1 or 2/10 on that front but after blocks etc lame behind. I was running up and down for ages as it is all so
Un-obvious
 

stangs

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If insurance will pay out, I'd investigate further. If not, I'd retire him as a field companion to maybe do some in hand/agility with.
 
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The horse is telling you that he can't cope with being ridden. The lameness is due to pain which is variable areas which is why it presents in different legs. He trips because he can't manage to carry the weight of either you or his own body. These things don't come right, even the vet knows that and is telling you so. Sadly money can't solve everything, so either retire or PTS.
 

Goldenstar

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How do you know he feels fine, horses are masters at hiding pain ?
This type of situation does end with a sound working horses IME.

you could try some nerve blocks that is what would do it I wanted to continue , a comprehensive ( therefore expensive) work up with systematic blocking of all limbs starting at the foot and working up the legs .
he would need to a inpatient for this as it will take a couple of days .
 

poiuytrewq

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Another thing, not sure if this means anything to anyone?

When I have felt he’s not right in front it’s only in walk. He will the trot sound. The vet commented on this also that he’s better in trot on hard and soft than walk.
 

milliepops

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What would I do ?
Give him a short but very nice retirement on some nice drugs while I got my head around it and then PTS .
I ( I live with chronic pain ) won’t keep horse in the situation you describe .
This.
My neuro-ey ex racer was nice to ride, just wasn't progressing. Mostly looks wonderful prancing round the field unmedicated and is a content happy horse in the stable. Occasionally i see some iffy steps. I know he's not right, I am not wanting to ride a horse i know is not right, so he's in god's waiting room currently as I need him over the winter and then will pts in the spring sunshine having had a nice life albeit shorter than I'd have liked.

Sorry you've been through all this, that sounds like it has been very hard going mentally and emotionally.
 

Polos Mum

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They are surprisingly stoical so he could be in lots of pain - just only showing it when under real pressure (vet work ups, consistent riding).
If you and several other people thinks he's lame - then most likely he is.
Lots of people ride lame horses and don't realise - one of those studies (can't remember who) said 80% of normal riding horses were lame.

You could spend a lot finding a cause and that still not be solvable - at least you'd know - but it wouldn't change the outcome.

If he has had a year in a field to let things unwind then I am same as Goldenstar - a short retirement then PTS.

IMHO retiring them while you wait from them to be really really ill / lame to make the decision you knew was coming anyway doesn't really to them or us any favours. I am firmly a month / year too soon than a day too late type of person.

An alternative would be a bute a day and ride him anyway - if it's so slight that would take the edge off and while there's a risk of long term liver damage - there's a risk of lot else going wrong too.
Many are competed on bute / constant steroid injections - not my choice but I'm hard nosed.
 

poiuytrewq

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How do you know he feels fine, horses are masters at hiding pain ?
This type of situation does end with a sound working horses IME.

you could try some nerve blocks that is what would do it I wanted to continue , a comprehensive ( therefore expensive) work up with systematic blocking of all limbs starting at the foot and working up the legs .
he would need to a inpatient for this as it will take a couple of days .
I don’t know he feels fine. This is why I’ve been trying to find out what’s wrong.
When I said he would not need drugs to be in the field I just meant he appears fine I guess. I turn him out he canters off and has a buck. He rarely looks bad.
 

poiuytrewq

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This.
My neuro-ey ex racer was nice to ride, just wasn't progressing. Mostly looks wonderful prancing round the field unmedicated and is a content happy horse in the stable. Occasionally i see some iffy steps. I know he's not right, I am not wanting to ride a horse i know is not right, so he's in god's waiting room currently as I need him over the winter and then will pts in the spring sunshine having had a nice life albeit shorter than I'd have liked.

Sorry you've been through all this, that sounds like it has been very hard going mentally and emotionally.
Thank you. It’s been really hard. I lost 2 horses last year and this one was my healthy new start
 

SOS

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If he was mine I’m afraid I would PTS, as the likelihood of finding something treatable for you to enjoy him as a riding horse is minimal.

I second what people have said about he may well be in pain in the field and just doesn’t show it. Horses are hard wired to not show pain (else they’d get picked as weak and hunted by a lion etc.). They also can feel very stressed by being less mobile as it means they would not be able to get away from danger. That paired with the fact that it’s harder to monitor them when they are turned away (you are less likely to see the bad moments) would make me need to PTS so I knew he wasn’t suffering without me realising.
 

Shilasdair

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I don't know the answer to your question - nobody does.
If I were you I'd be inclined to stop with the vet treatment, and give him the winter off.
I'd then bring him back into work in the spring (very gradually). If the issues reappear, you know that he won't be fixed without a lot of vet intervention (which I don't think is in your or his best interests).
At that point I'd made a further decision as to whether to retire him for longer or PTS.
It's never an easy decision - but I'm sure you'll do your best by him.
 

Errin Paddywack

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I had a little mare, TB x welsh. Had her from a yearling and knew her breeder. Nothing ever happened to her but from quite an early age she would go suddenly very lame in front. We had the vet out many times but nothing much was ever found. As she got older the lame spells got worse and on bad days she would look crippled yet she could be sound again in a matter of days without treatment. If her legs were flexed, any joint on any leg she would always trot away lame for a few strides. I finally called it a day when she was 15. No-one ever came up with a suggestion as to what was wrong. This was a long time ago and we never x-rayed her.
 

Merry Equimas

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I can’t remember the names but who are those guys everyone always reccomeneds here for those tricky cases? Is it tom possibly? Or maybe Robert…..someone will know who I mean 😂
 

TPO

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In your position I would pts.

Somewhere along the line we seem to have forgotten that lame = pain*; it's prevalent in all animals. I see so many limping dogs doing at least twice daily brisk walks around here.

*mechanical lamenesses aside

You've felt him off for a long time. A previous vet said told me that in all but the worst of situations they can't tell/advise pts. That you've had a vet hint so strongly towards that options speaks volumes to me.

The issues that have already been identified are ones that worsen in the majority of cases. It sounds like the vet is expecting to find a lot more if they go looking too.

I know that you are a very caring owner and have had a lot of losses. In the kindest way what you've written reads as if you'll do all that you can to get him back as a riding horse for your sanity after being through so much. I've been where you are, I lost a horse 3yrs in a row and then had 6yrs as vet nurse to a horse with a chronic issue that wasn't bad enough, for him, to pts. That horse was an exracer and an absolute dream too, the kindest horse ever. It was totally heartbreaking.

I don't even think a retirement is much of a blessing these days. Our winters have been so wet and miserable that they are pretty soul destroying.

I honestly do feel for you and I really hope that you get the break that you deserve and a nice, sound horse to enjoy.
 

Melody Grey

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I’m sorry you’re in this position, but this sounds like either an undiagnosed wobbler or a horse with gastric issues to me. The moving of lameness between legs suggests it’s not really in the legs. The bending to the right could be down to weakness on that side caused by ulcers/ hind gut inflammation that the horse is trying to shield itself from.

I’d want to thoroughly rule out anything neuro and then scope for ulcers I think.
 
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