WWYD - Denial or reality?

Switchthehorse

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I am waiting for the vet to call with the most recent results on my mare who has hepatitis. I was told a month ago we were 'losing the battle' - last resort was to withdraw all treatment and move yards in the vain hope it was something at the yard she was on that she was allergic to. 4 weeks into new yard and off treatment - and bloods back in the next couple of hours... keep checking phone is working!!

If they are high again, and still continuing to rise she is dying. Her liver has started failing and there is apparently no way back if this continues. However she is fat as an elephant, lively, eating well, and having been told to slowly bring her back into work she is keen to be ridden etc. The specialists I have been in contact with have all said this is quite normal, and they only look ill when they are past the point of no return.

I have been advised by various specialists that I should ignore blood tests and look at the horse in front of me, to crack on and only stop when she is unhappy or when she starts to look poorly. Apparently she isn't in any real pain, maybe a little discomfort but she will tell me. I know her inside out having had her for nearly 7 years since she was 3 and she does make it clear.

But that is precisely my problem, she is my everything (apart from my other youngster) - children replacement, husband replacement, counseller, enjoyment, hobby, addiction etc. I am not sure how I can basically 'ignore' the fact she is on her way out. The trouble is no one knows time lines, could be months or i could get years out of her.

If I do decide to ignore and crack on what do you do, do you do the slowly steady back into work in case you have years and you protect her legs etc? but what if it turns out you had weeks - and you spent all of it building up your walk work!? Wouldn't you be kicking yourself? Wouldnt you wish you had galloped on the beach and gone round a few xc courses!! But then what if she went lame! And she spent the last month of her life on box rest!???

I am so confused, i sway between crying my eyes out through to completely ignoring everything and then back again. I look at her and can't believe she is on her last legs, but then read the old blood results and they are so bad she must be.

What would you do? Denial and crack on? how!! and if you crack on do you properly crack on or slow and steady!?

All so sad and so ruddy difficult - thanks for reading this far, and sorry thirty something woman at her wits end!! x
 

touchstone

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Aw what a rubbish situation, personally I'd go by the horse in front of me and make any decisions about letting go as soon as the horse seems unhappy or uncomfortable. If the horse is happy and enjoying life, then pts may be a while a way yet, plenty of terminally ill people manage to live a fulfilling life despite their diagnosis.

I wouldnt start bashing round xc courses though, but do a bit of what you both enjoy while gradually building fitness. Slow and steady will mean she can cope with the work, if she deteriorates in the meantime then at least you know you weren't responsible for causing injury or stress by overdoing it, missing out on beach rides etc is just part of owning horses at times.
 

9tails

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I would crack on. You never know when or if they will go wrong, even if they look and feel in tiptop health.
 

DanceswithCows

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how I can basically 'ignore' the fact she is on her way out.

what if it turns out you had weeks - and you spent all of it building up your walk work!? Wouldn't you be kicking yourself? Wouldnt you wish you had galloped on the beach and gone round a few xc courses!! But then what if she went lame! And she spent the last month of her life on box rest!???
I would not ignore it, I'd be aware of it and pack in as much fun stuff as possible - if she seems comfortable and likes XC and beach rides, do that!
 

YorksG

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Aw what a rubbish situation, personally I'd go by the horse in front of me and make any decisions about letting go as soon as the horse seems unhappy or uncomfortable. If the horse is happy and enjoying life, then pts may be a while a way yet, plenty of terminally ill people manage to live a fulfilling life despite their diagnosis.

I wouldnt start bashing round xc courses though, but do a bit of what you both enjoy while gradually building fitness. Slow and steady will mean she can cope with the work, if she deteriorates in the meantime then at least you know you weren't responsible for causing injury or stress by overdoing it, missing out on beach rides etc is just part of owning horses at times.
^^^^^This, and I do hope she recovers.
 

Maesfen

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Slow and steady for definite and make the most of the time you have left. There would be nothing worse than to actually break down the horse by not building up work gradually and realise you will miss everything you want to do with her until it's too late. If you break her down by being reckless you might as well say goodbye now IMO.
 

Magicmillbrook

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10 October 2006
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Aw what a rubbish situation, personally I'd go by the horse in front of me and make any decisions about letting go as soon as the horse seems unhappy or uncomfortable. If the horse is happy and enjoying life, then pts may be a while a way yet, plenty of terminally ill people manage to live a fulfilling life despite their diagnosis.

I wouldnt start bashing round xc courses though, but do a bit of what you both enjoy while gradually building fitness. Slow and steady will mean she can cope with the work, if she deteriorates in the meantime then at least you know you weren't responsible for causing injury or stress by overdoing it, missing out on beach rides etc is just part of owning horses at times.
Agree with above - I feel for you, and hope you have plenty of time ahead of you to get fit enough for those beach rides and XC rounds in
 

fatpiggy

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1 December 2006
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Do what I did - take every day as it comes and don't plan more than a day or two ahead. I was in my 30s before I got my first horse and within 18 months she was diagnosed with epilepsy and my vet was suggesting I have her put down and buy something else. I refused to accept defeat and we were given the chance of treatment although it was quite an unknown quantity and I was told it would probably wreck her liver within a couple of years. 15 years later she was PTS due to ever increasing arthritis at the age of rising 30. She'd outlived the original vet and shortly before the end she was routinely liver-tested and it was as healthy as any horse of her age. I was extremely fortunate in having Derek Knottenbelt as her consultant and he told me years after he'd met us that he often told his students about her and what can be achieved by an owner who refused to give up. My mare led a completely normal life apart from the fact that she ate drugs like they were going out of fashion and bankrupted me in the process. Like the OP my horse was everything to me and I sacrificed every aspect of what people would call a normal life to pay for her drug habit and care for her. Now I am £1000 a month better off but I have nothing but memories and it is too late to catch up with the things I missed out on :( You only have one special equine friend so go out and enjoy having her around.
 

Micky

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Take it as you see her, try to be posistive as it will rub off on her :) Lots of lovely hacks in walk to build her fitness back up and enjoy her :) Maybe rethink her diet, put her on a hi fi molasses free to help with her podginess and a good supplement? As has been said, take each day as it comes andnow! You have to get it straight in your head, thats the crux of it...good luck and keep smiling enjoy her, if she appears happy, keep going...you will know when it is time and it doesn't sound , you could have years left together :)
 

ridefast

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21 June 2010
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Do you have her on Milk Thistle? As that is really good for liver. It may be worth getting in touch with Chris Day http://www.alternativevet.org/ and see what he thinks, there could be another treatment option. As for what to do with her, slow and steady build her up. No point breaking her if she then has years being broken, you'd never forgive yourself.
 

jendie

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I'd bring her back into work slowly and enjoy whatever time you have left. I'd certainly put more weight on the horse in front of me than on blood tests. Remember though, that liver disease has a way of creeping up slowly, you might find that she suddenly starts falling over. If that happens then pts as it would be dangerous to ride her.

I hope you have many years left, but take each day as it comes.
 

Lambkins

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17 January 2013
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I have a pony with hepatitis .. Blood result still read above normal but not massively .. I would treat her like a normal horse .. Get her back in work .. Enjoy her .. When max was at his worst he could bearly walk !! But if your mare is well in herself ..crack on ;) nobody knows how long they have in this world ..try and live as normal as poss and enjoy ur time together ..
 

christine48

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I would take each day as it comes and go by looking at the horse. At the moment she seems to be feeling and looking well. You will know if and when she deteriorates. Good luck
 

honetpot

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I had my 28 year old PTS last week, she was my pony of a lifetime. I have being coming to terms with her death for the last 3 years. Animals live in the moment and crying over her( at times literally) will not effect upset her or effect the outcome, everything must die in the end and sooner or latter we have to face up to that. Enjoy your time with her, try and put the sadness in a box most of the time but plan for the future.
I have tried to explain to my children that loving is not an exhaustible resource, and the more you love and care for people and animals the more your life is enriched and able to love more. Sometimes it hurts badly when people or animals die but happy memories make up for it. One day your mare will be drowsy or have other symptoms and you will be glad for her to go, don't spoil what you have now by fear.
 
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