Lame old boy and bute test

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Hi all long post so please bare with me.....

I have a thoroughbred cross 20 years old that was my showjumper and I love him dearly!

He has been retired now for over 10 years due to bones spavins in both hind legs, he underwent extensive treatments, injections, rehab etc but unfortunately he just didn't recover well enough for me to get back on. Since then he has lived the best life and has wanted for nothing. However, the past few months he has become more stroppy, unpredictable and sometimes aggressive to the point where only we handle him as I do not want anyone getting hurt.

Now he has become lame in front. He has always waddled behind due to arthritis and he's a pacer but this has worsened but I appreciate with the spavins this won't improve but his front right is a new thing.

He went lame on this a couple of weeks ago and I gave him a couple of days as I was hoping perhaps he had pulled something or just tweaked a muscle, but this wasn't the case so last week I asked the vet to come out and check him. The vet did the usual tests trot ups, flexion tests, checked for abscesses etc and was shocked how lame he was on a hard surface and said if he had to guess he would say it's arthritis of the knee or shoulder and suggested a bute test for two weeks to see if the inflammation can decrease and therefore reduce the pain and lameness.

8 days on still no change and I'm worried where we go from here. I have a great vet who I trust but I would just like other views of people who have been in similar situations. Further investigations are not really an option 1. he's not insured 2. he doesn't load anymore to get him to a vet

Thank you
 

Shay

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I have a 27 year old just starting semi retirement so this is something very much on my mind. The only other thing I would wonder about would be having steroid injections into the joints? It can be done on yard so no travel. Relatively simple (annual hock injections kept my lad still hunting for about 5 more years). Not hugely expensive. The only thing is a risk of Lami - but my lad is a cob so probably chunkier than yours. And he never had any problems at all.

But if pain relief cannot keep them comfortable it is time for hard decisions. Big Hugs to both of you....
 

be positive

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Honest answer, if the vet was shocked by how lame he was and bute is not helping you really need to make the right decision for the horse and have him pts before it gets worse, it is not easy but your options are limited, I would not put an old horse through too many investigations as the outcome is unlikely to change.
He has had a good life, a long retirement so remember those times when you make the toughest call.
 

ester

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I agree with BP, you could nerve block to try and narrow it down but if it's then not suitable for steroid injection you are back where you started.
 

Aimeetess

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Honest answer, if the vet was shocked by how lame he was and bute is not helping you really need to make the right decision for the horse and have him pts before it gets worse, it is not easy but your options are limited, I would not put an old horse through too many investigations as the outcome is unlikely to change.
He has had a good life, a long retirement so remember those times when you make the toughest call.
I'd be thinking the same as be positive. You could nerve block and not see any improvements, then the vet will want to x-ray, try steriods. It could cost a fortune and your be no better off. He will probably be in some pain, hes lived a good life, maybe see if bute helps and if so great, keep him comfortable and happy but if not i'd make that toughest call. Sorry to sound so awful just trying to be honest.
 
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Honest answer, if the vet was shocked by how lame he was and bute is not helping you really need to make the right decision for the horse and have him pts before it gets worse, it is not easy but your options are limited, I would not put an old horse through too many investigations as the outcome is unlikely to change.
He has had a good life, a long retirement so remember those times when you make the toughest call.
Sorry I've not been in this predicament but I also have to agree with BP to some level. Its the comment about the vet being surprised at the level of his lameness, the bute trial not having any affect on him, the fact he has turned unpredictable and the fact that the vet has checked for an abscess already which has swung it for me (I was going to suggest an abscess).

Having said that 20 isn't that old these days. So the only thing to suggest if your vet was in agreement would be to up the level of bute - especially if he is a big horse as sometimes it can be hard to get the level right. This can be a long term solution but I wouldn't be particularly happy about upping it too much if it were my horse. Not because I'd worry about how the bute would effect the organs (I don't think this is really a consideration as long term bute use at low dose is normally acceptable and fairly safe) but I would worry if it were ethical or not and fair on the horse. But then if its out of pain I don't suppose it matters.

Just to mention though - Arthritis is generally a progressive disease that worsens over a period of time so its strange how this lameness has come on suddenly.

Maybe a frank and honest discussion with your vet on the best way forwards from here? It's one of those with no straight yes or no answer for me.
 

JillA

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Honest answer, if the vet was shocked by how lame he was and bute is not helping you really need to make the right decision for the horse and have him pts before it gets worse, it is not easy but your options are limited, I would not put an old horse through too many investigations as the outcome is unlikely to change.
He has had a good life, a long retirement so remember those times when you make the toughest call.
^^^^ This. A friend has just had her old favourite PTS for similar reasons, and has said better a day too soon then an hour to late. Give him the final act of love
 

Aimeetess

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I also have to agree with BP. Its the comment about the vet being surprised at the level of his lameness, the bute trial not having any affect on him, the fact he has turned unpredictable and the fact that the vet has checked for an abscess already which has swung it for me (I was going to suggest an abscess).

Having said that 20 isn't that old these days. So the only thing to suggest if your vet was in agreement would be to up the level of bute - especially if he is a big horse as sometimes it can be hard to get the level right. This can be a long term solution but I wouldn't be particularly happy about upping it too much if it were my horse. Not because I'd worry about how the bute would effect the organs (I don't think this is really a consideration as long term bute use at low dose is normally acceptable and fairly safe) but I would worry if it were ethical or not and fair on the horse. Arthritis is a progressive disease that worsens over a period of time so its strange how this lameness has come on suddenly.

Maybe a frank and honest discussion with your vet on the best way forwards from here?
I also thought this, my friends gelding suddenly came in very lame with heat in the front leg and he done his front suspensory in the field, he was fine that morning. Arthritis would get worse over time I would of thought, not suddenly come on?
 
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Thanks all, the sudden lameness has just come on but he has been pottery for a long time, I always thought bare feet had a part to play. I will be sending a video to my vet this afternoon to show him the lameness and discuss from there :( On the outside apart from the lameness he looks well, hasn't lost weight, good muscle tone etc so it makes any horrid decision worse!
 

Orangehorse

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Neighbour had an old favourite that had been retired after an active life and they said that he became noticeably more grumpy and difficult and they decided that it wasn't his normal nature so put it down to being in pain from his arthritis, so he was PTS at age 27.

Just like to add, that being an old pensioner myself, it is hard to understand just how awfully painful arthritis is. I have been crying and rocking in a chair with the pain from my knees, and been unable to sleep and not get in a position where the pain would lessen, let alone stop.
We had a very lame cow once too, the vet tried various treatments but in the end I said it was too awful to watch it trying to move around the stable and to have the poor animal PTS and the pm came back as arthritis.
 
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ester

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Assuming he has been without shoes for the majority of his retirement they really shouldn't be making much of an impact, and if they are and there are not big management changes to be made then that wouldn't change my decision.
- My own oldies hooves are being monitored carefully this summer as he struggled with the hard ground/weather last year. If he struggles as much or worse this year I may make the decision. I fully expect him to look totally healthy whenever he goes as that is the benefit of making the decision for him.
 
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Because I'm not investigating further when it may be something (more than likely not) little that we can sort.

I think my heart is saying keep trying, have further checks done, try different methods until the decision is obvious but my mind is saying it's time, he's had a great life and I don't have the money to keep throwing at him nor the cost of keeping him if he's not that happy.

I don't like the idea of money being involved but sometimes I guess you have to think that way too :(
 

JillA

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Because I'm not investigating further when it may be something (more than likely not) little that we can sort.

I think my heart is saying keep trying, have further checks done, try different methods until the decision is obvious but my mind is saying it's time, he's had a great life and I don't have the money to keep throwing at him nor the cost of keeping him if he's not that happy.
I think it's human nature to cling on to hope, especially these days when veterinary medicine has never been better. But bear in mind that you may well find yourself struggling with this time and time again over the coming months - is that fair on him? I know only too well that feeling - I kept my Cushingoid mare going far too long in the days before pergolide was available and affordable and I will never forgive myself for what she went through. We were on the chasteberry trial and I kept hoping against hope she would turn a corner but meanwhile she suffered in ways I hate to remember. Think of it as putting out the lights, and relieving him once and for all from pain. It's never easy but unless your vet can offer you a really really good prognosis, be brave and do what is best.
 
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How did you get on with the chat to your vet H123? I hope you are clearer in your mind and have reached a decision between you whichever way it goes. Sometimes reaching the decision is harder than carrying out the act. I really feel for you in this situation.
 
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I'm sorry you are going through this.

If it helps, I started a thread (think it was in Tack Room) recently about putting to sleep a healthy looking horse and the responses I had were so helpful to me and made me understand that letting a horse with a shiny coat and bright eyes go before they really begin to suffer is not something to feel bad about, but actually something to be proud of.

It is, of course, gut wrenching painful for us but is the ultimate act of kindness for our old friends.

Hope the chat with your vet helped make things clearer for you. X
 
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How did you get on with the chat to your vet H123? I hope you are clearer in your mind and have reached a decision between you whichever way it goes. Sometimes reaching the decision is harder than carrying out the act. I really feel for you in this situation.
I sent some videos to my vet of my boys trotting. We agreed he looked 50% better on the two bute a day but I am shocked he isn't sound if I'm honest. He's a 15.1hh thoroughbred cross so I though 2 bute would be enough to make him feel much better.

My vet has said it's my choice I can leave him on the bute for the next week as originally planned and then decrease and see how bad he is or make the decision now. I think my mind is made up on letting him go and although I'm crying just writing this with the hard ground coming and him not even being comfortable on bute I know deep down that perhaps it's time. I still feel guilty that apart from him not being well that I am not giving him more of a chance but finances do come into the situations and so does the stress of further investigations on him. He went through so much back when his bone spavin was diagnosed that I don't feel I can do that again to him.

Thank you.
 
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I'm sorry you are going through this.

If it helps, I started a thread (think it was in Tack Room) recently about putting to sleep a healthy looking horse and the responses I had were so helpful to me and made me understand that letting a horse with a shiny coat and bright eyes go before they really begin to suffer is not something to feel bad about, but actually something to be proud of.

It is, of course, gut wrenching painful for us but is the ultimate act of kindness for our old friends.

Hope the chat with your vet helped make things clearer for you. X
Thank you for this I will take a look, sometimes it's harder making the decision and it would be easier if someone (i.e vet) could just say it's time as you just feel so responsible.
 

ester

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IME vets don't suggest you could make the decision now without them thinking that is likely their recommendation/way it is going. I absolutely understand it being easier if someone else could make the decision for you.

You have given this horse a fantastic, long term, secure retirement- too many don't get that. You genuinely have nothing to be guilty about.
 
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So sorry. Was hoping the vet would have some more positive news but I guess he is only seeing what is in front of him. I'm not sure what your circumstances are but if you are facing this on your own you might like to consider ringing the Blue Cross as they have a bereavement helpline and I believe they can offer support to you by being a 'buddy' (Friends at the End) and being there when your horse is PTS as support as well as ongoing support afterwards. Thinking of you.
 

Beausmate

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Thank you for this I will take a look, sometimes it's harder making the decision and it would be easier if someone (i.e vet) could just say it's time as you just feel so responsible.
I think your horse is telling you.

"However, the past few months he has become more stroppy, unpredictable and sometimes aggressive...."

Don't leave it too long. My horse went two days too long really, it couldn't be helped at the time but I wish he could have gone before he had a couple of bad episodes. Same with my dog. He was very close - the day he was put down, was the first day he couldn't get himself up. Should have been a week earlier.

I feel for you, OP. It sucks having to say goodbye.
 
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I have asked vets on occasion if my (sick) horse was theirs what would they do. I have found the answer helpful.
I hope if you do PTS you comfort yourself with the long retirement your boy has had and that you stepped up and made tough decisions when he needed it. I think when the condition an aged horse has is degenerative, I'd rather not wait until he is debilitated.
 
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My oldie ruptured his hind DDFT. After 2yrs off and on bute his lameness was getting worse.He was on bute every other day which was not enough and he was becoming very grumpy which was not like him,nipping etc. We sadly had to call it a day for his sake.
 
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