Taking on an older horse

harlequinwalk

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Afternoon all. I have been offered a lovely horse that I know well for free as the owner is going off travelling. Horse is 18, will be 19 in May and is as honest and sweet as they come. She does, however, have Cushing's Disease (currently on 1.5 tablets of Prascend per day) and mild trouble with COPD. She has never had laminitis or been lame in the last 5 years. I really like the horse and I want her to have a good home, she is still rideable. Am I being stupid to consider taking this horse on? Is the Cushings likely to worsen dramatically as she gets older, despite the medication? Any opinions/experience most welcome!
 

thatsmygirl

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I have taken on older horses and 18 to me is not old but tbh for me I wouldn't take on a horse with cushings personally BUT how well do you know the horse? If you know her well enough to honestly say its fully under control with the tablets and the owner has little issues it may well be a option as long as your fully aware of the costs involved and the fact you will most likely be the last home for her as highly unlikely you would find anyone to take her on. If it was a totally unknown horse I would say no but seeing that you know the horse I think you need to go with your judgement based on the fact you know her and if you know enough about cushings/time to care for her which I'm sure you do. X
 

unbalanced

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Is it a gift or a loan? Who is going to pay for the prascend? Prascend is really expensive (about £1/tablet) and the horse will require regular blood tests to ensure the medication is working. It is extremely unlikely this will be covered by insurance.
Cushings is incurable but treatable and you will need to consider diet and exercise in its management. For instance, the horse will most likely require soaked hay and restricted grazing as well as a high fibre low sugar diet.
You could still have many years with this horse, but if taking her on as a gift you should plan to be her last home. This means being prepared to retire her if necessary and make difficult decisions when the time comes. Of course, if it's a loan, she can go back to her loaner to be retired.
Sorry to point out so many negatives but actually I'm really hoping you and the owner can work them out as you sound like a lovely home for her :)
 

harlequinwalk

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To clarify, horse would be a gift to me and I would have to pay for medication and all other costs. Thank you for your input, I really want to make it work but I need to be sensible! :)
 

wren123

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I would not take this horse on, that is £45 per month just on medication, then there are blood tests, and the fact that it is old may mean other problems to come. Sorry have no idea of how Cushings can progress, that is just my view.
 

Jnhuk

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I took on a 23 year horse that I knew well and enjoyed riding when his owner was looking for a new home for this horse when he was retiring and his land been sold. Unfortunately, I only had him 9 months before I had to make the final decision for him. I don't regret that time and some people thought I was crazy but I had my reasons which I am not going to go into here.

If you are prepared to take the costs onboard and all that involves then the horse's current owner is very lucky to have found you.

However, remember it is the upkeep of a horse that is more of an issue than the purchase price.

Will this horse fulfill the type of riding that you wish to achieve in the next few years? Be honest with yourself and that will help you make a decision.
 

skint1

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I took on an older horse that has arthritis and fairly mild COPD, she doesn't have Cushings but does need grazing restricted at certain times of year or she can quickly get massively fat and a bit footy. I had her on loan for a few months first so I knew her to be as close to 100% safe as a horse can be, and as I only hack, a bit of light hunting (that's the daughter) and fun rides, I am not troubled by her limitations. There's always a risk of big bills with any horse you buy, my other two are ex racers (daughter rides them not me), both younger, and they've cost me many times more in vets bills and medications than my older mare, though she does perhaps have more supplements. Honestly, she's the best horse I have ever owed or ever will own so to me she has been worth any extra cost that may come my way.

People have raised good points about affording the medication and also the commitment you will need to make to her, the job you will want her to do etc give those careful consideration before making your decision
 

_Annie_

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Provided you'd definitely be her last home, her cushings is stable and she's exactly what you want in a horse in your shoes I'd go for it. But then one of my dogs is diabetic and the cos of prascend pales into insignificance compared to insulin for a Dane...
 

linperrie

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I bought my girl at nearly 17. For my budget of 2k I could either get a 5 year old or an older one. I went for the older and it wasn't without a lot of thought. Fast forward 2.5 years and she is diagnosed with cushings. On 1 tablet a day but doing great now after a few months before and after diagnosed. So am I glad I bought her....hell yeh!I have had the most fun ever. I've had her 3 years now and bar a bit of saddle fitting trouble, I've never had a bad ride on her. I am never scared, never disappointed and generally never wanna get off. I am the one person on my yard who hacks alone, does dressage, Jumping, fun rides and a bit of endurance. She is a true all rounder. She is 75%Arab so longevity of years are more of an assumption with her breed. She is not slowing down at all,in fact she has a new lease of life now the meds have settled down. I wish above all other things I had bought her when she was 8 but that's wasnt possible so I carry on, treasuring every day and hoping I get another 10 years out of her. But she has a home for life come what may. Knowing what I know and the fantastic times I've had thus far I'd make the same decision again to buy her if I had too as I cant place a price on the good times she has given me. If you think you might feel the same, can afford the meds and give a home for life than I'd say go for it. At least she is free!!!
 

rach1

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I think the issue here isn't really the age, but as others said are you happy to take on a horse with a costly and incurable illness which is likely to get worse? I've loaned horses all in their 20's and we've had a great time, but they had good health. Personally, I wouldn't take on a horse with cushings.

If the owner is going travelling could she loan the horse to you and pay for the meds? Then she knows the horse will be looked after well until she returns.
 

Peregrine Falcon

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Having known of several cushings sufferers I'm personally not sure I'd take on one. My sister lost two to it because of laminitis. My son's old loan pony was PTS last year. She had melamonas too.

What were her levels at the last blood tests? Is she happpy in all other aspects. I admire people for taking on a veteran, two of mine are 21 this year and touch wood so far, they are fine!
 

JosieB

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my 23yr old has cushings, she only has tablets during peak times spring and autumn and has come out of winter better for not taking the tablets, she has lived out 24/7 with careful sectioning off at the dangerous times.. shes a wonderful horse and i would take her on now if offered her, shes kind in the field, bombproof riding and worth her weight in gold. I get her blood tested when i feel the need to check how shes doing, shes had no laminitus had an abscess last year but that was due to the farrier two days before i think. cleared up fine.
 

Magicmillbrook

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If the owner is going travelling could she loan the horse to you and pay for the meds? Then she knows the horse will be looked after well until she returns.[/QUOTE]

I agree - If the oldie is exactly what you want riding wise then go for it, however 1.5 prascend per day for a companion or occasional ride is costly. I have 2 oldies, one with cushings and one with COPD & arthritis. The chushenoid pony has never had any problems with the cushings, just the long coat & excessive urination. With hindsight she was quite grumpy and has settled down since being on meds. But then again she was always a funny sort, gifted to us because she was unsuitable (downright dangerous) ridden. Being a sec A we have always had her on a strict diet so lamin has never been an issue with her. My other oldie was diagnosed with arthritis and COPD at 13 and had 10 years without any problems, just managing her condition byu living out, best if they can live out.

If it were me I would broach the subject of a loan subject to some help with medical bills and perhaps a joint descision of what to do 'when' that time come. If I were the owner/prospective traveller I would be happy knowing my horse was in a good home and that i still had some input to ensure the quality of life up until the end.
 

Suby2

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My 18 year old NFx was diagnosed with RAO about 18 months ago and Cushings at the end of last year (probably connected). She then had mild laminitis. I am doing my utmost to try and keep her well but it has been a struggle. With all of her health issues exercise is beneficial but when her breathing is bad I can't ride and obviously couldn't ride for some time after the laminitis. Had to have the vet out yet again on Thursday as she has become very lethargic so not being ridden again. Vet could find nothing obvious. All conditions seem under control (at the moment!) so am waiting for the results of the blood tests.

I have never had to deal with these issues before and would not knowingly take on another with similar problems.
 

Nudibranch

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I took on a 17 yo last year, I suspected at the time she might be mildly cushingoid but bought her anyway, she was going for buttons and I wanted a companion who could be a light hack too. She is a fantastic little horse and worth her weight in gold. We are on a Prascend trial and I pay £120 for 160 tablets, one a day (16hh CB). She is unshod, has restricted grazing in spring and summer and wears boots in front sometimes. But none of that is a particular hassle.

To be fair you could take on a 6 yo and have problems - how many people have spent fortunes on lameness issues and the like? If you can afford the vet's bills and manage her diet wise then give it a go, just remember it does progress. That said I lost my veteran Cushings mare 18 months ago at the age of 30, so you could have years to go.
 

LD&S

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I bought my girl at nearly 17. For my budget of 2k I could either get a 5 year old or an older one. I went for the older and it wasn't without a lot of thought. Fast forward 2.5 years and she is diagnosed with cushings. On 1 tablet a day but doing great now after a few months before and after diagnosed. So am I glad I bought her....hell yeh!I have had the most fun ever. I've had her 3 years now and bar a bit of saddle fitting trouble, I've never had a bad ride on her. I am never scared, never disappointed and generally never wanna get off. I am the one person on my yard who hacks alone, does dressage, Jumping, fun rides and a bit of endurance. She is a true all rounder. She is 75%Arab so longevity of years are more of an assumption with her breed. She is not slowing down at all,in fact she has a new lease of life now the meds have settled down. I wish above all other things I had bought her when she was 8 but that's wasnt possible so I carry on, treasuring every day and hoping I get another 10 years out of her. But she has a home for life come what may. Knowing what I know and the fantastic times I've had thus far I'd make the same decision again to buy her if I had too as I cant place a price on the good times she has given me. If you think you might feel the same, can afford the meds and give a home for life than I'd say go for it. At least she is free!!!
What a lovely post, really made me smile.
 

canteron

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I bought my girl at nearly 17. For my budget of 2k I could either get a 5 year old or an older one. I went for the older and it wasn't without a lot of thought. Fast forward 2.5 years and she is diagnosed with cushings. ……….. So am I glad I bought her....hell yeh!I have had the most fun ever. I've had her 3 years now and bar a bit of saddle fitting trouble, I've never had a bad ride on her. I am never scared, never disappointed and generally never wanna get off. I am the one person on my yard who hacks alone, does dressage, Jumping, fun rides and a bit of endurance.
If only more people would value experience in a horse I think there would be less over horses scared riders out there having a lot more fun.

If you can afford it go for it. I have 2 horses on Prascend, and they are easy to manage and at least you are pretty sure you are getting the right horse. It also makes you more aware of keeping their diets just so, which probably is good for their long term health anyway. Horses can go on for years on Prascend - I keep waiting for my retired one to start to deteriorate but 5 years on and at 23 is looking better than ever!
 
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oldie48

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My 26 year old TB has cushings and has been on prascend for 3 years having noticed he was drinking more and not losing his coat as quickly. He is retired now but not due to the cushings. He's easy to manage and keep well, to date no laminitis and he's full of beans. Many older horses will have undiagnosed cushings. If you can afford the meds and really love the horse I think it's worth taking a chance, you could have many years of fun.
 

wattamus

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I would always go with an older horse, I think the cushings would be a concern however I don't think it would stop me. If you own any horse for long enough it's likely to end up costing you money one way of another.
 

pip6

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I bought a 19 yr old who I'd had on loan for 2 years. My view was I knew exactly what was wrong & right with her, no worries about finding out problems post sale. Went onto have a wonderful decade together, in full work up to 27 years old, semi-retired 28, passed on 29. You can buy a young horse & find out it has problems. If you can manage this horses medications, & are prepared to be her final home, accepting that responsibility, you may have a brilliant schoolmistress.
 

MagicMelon

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Is the Cushings likely to worsen dramatically as she gets older, despite the medication? Any opinions/experience most welcome!
Yes, the cushings will get worse as the medication eventually doesn't seem to work. I lost my shetland mare to it a month ago - she was diagnosed with it about a year ago and put on Prescend which sort of helped for a while but then she kept getting laminitic episodes which to begin with only lasted a couple of days where she was really footy etc. but then they got more frequent and the episodes were lasting about 10 days and the times she was sound and happy were getting less and less, we tried everything but sadly had to have her PTS as I couldn't bare to keep putting her through it. However, one of my other ponies was diagnosed with it about 5 years ago and has been on Prescend since, he (touch wood!!) has not had any problems and is perfectly sound and would be easily rideable if I could find someone small enough to ride him. So I think some go downhill very quickly and some don't. Just depends on the horse. Personally, I would never take on a horse who had it as it was so upsetting to see my shetland sucumb to it and I know it'll get my other pony at some point. However, if you want an older horse then you'll find that its pretty common for them to get cushings as it often comes with age. So if you think you can get lots of joy out of the horse and understand what you're taking on then go for it, it's really only a decision you can make.
 

AngieandBen

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As Magic Melon says, cushings can come with age anyway; I took on a 18 year old 5 years ago, Ben has no health issues at all, he has given me the best times of my life :)

If you think she's worth the medication then I would go for it. Some horses cost money no matter what !
 
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