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  1. #1

    Default What to do with a broken horse?

    Yes, this is long, but please bear with me! When I was a kid, I always wanted a horse, just like many other kids growing up. Never happened, so when I had my daughter and she was interested in horses, we leased one and I lived vicariously through her. After she left for college and I was an empty nester, I decided it was time for me to live my dream and got a horse of my own. He was fairly young when I got him and I was fairly old but we had a good couple of years. My plan was to keep him for 7-8 years, and when I retired, I would rehome him as my husband and I are planning on traveling.

    Unfortunately, things never work out as planned. He wound up developing EPM, which we were able to treat successfully. On top of that, we also found out that he had a navicular bone cyst in one of his feet, but that seemed to respond well to bar shoes and a daily dose of prevacox. Fast forward six months to the cold winter we had last year, and his personality seemed to change. He had always been fairly quiet and easy going, but started to develop a real attitude. When getting on him, he would start crow-hopping and acting like he wanted to buck. I'm a timid rider, so this really freaked me out and I wasn't riding very much. Had his saddle checked, chiropractor, etc, and no issues. In the spring, I had one of the pro's do some training rides on him and he responded really well. I figured it must've just been the ridiculously cold weather we were having (quite a few horses at the barn were being obnoxious!) and things were going to get better. Famous last words. While running around in the field one day, he pulls off a shoe and ends up with a fractured coffin bone...of course, it is in the same foot as the navicular bone cyst. Eight months later, he is still on stall rest and the vet and farrier still aren't happy with how it's healing. We'll be doing X-rays again next month but I'm not very hopeful.

    On top of all this, the horse also has issues with the farrier...to the point where we have to have the vet come out and administer dormosedan so that the farrier can work on his feet. Although he is normally quiet undersaddle, he can also be spooky on the ground when someone walks up on him unexpectedly or if he sees a sudden movement. He is still on stall rest, but gets 30 minutes hand walking per day. While he is usually quiet with this, he occasionally gets rambunctious and I wind up getting very intimidated. I'm definitely a woman with a horse - not a horsewoman!

    So my dilemma now is what do I do if he can't be rehabbed? He's still fairly young (11). Maybe I should have, but I never planned on still owning him when I retired...I assumed I would either sell him, give him away to someone at the barn or donate him to the local therapeutic riding center. Obviously, I'm not going to be able to sell him now, and with the issues he has, I don't see how I could give him away. I'm starting to look for inexpensive retirement board but not sure how that will work...I feel horrible but just can't see how I can afford 15 more years of board, shoes, and drugs! But if he isn't doing anything but standing in a pasture, does he still need shoes and prevacox?

    Any suggestions/recommendations greatly appreciated. I will be having this conversation at a later date with the vet, but wanted to get more information before then.



  2. #2
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    Apr. 20, 2013
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    I have nothing to add but the dormosedan is a available in an oral gel so the vet doesn't have to come out. I feel for you. I guess you could stop all the therapeutics and put him out in the pasture and see how he does. 11 is young but I can't imagine re-homing him with his issues. So sorry!


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  3. #3
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    Dec. 28, 2003
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    Honey, it is time to put him out of his pain. Yes he is young but he is going to be in more pain as he gets older. It is not easy but it is time to let go and put him down. He is never going to be 100%, it is time.

    I am so sorry.
    My life motto now is "You can't fix stupid!"

    Are you going to cowboy up, or lie there and bleed


    36 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
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    Dec. 14, 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by CindyCRNA View Post
    I have nothing to add but the dormosedan is a available in an oral gel so the vet doesn't have to come out. I feel for you. I guess you could stop all the therapeutics and put him out in the pasture and see how he does. 11 is young but I can't imagine re-homing him with his issues. So sorry!
    Unfortunately, we tried the gel, but it didn't work...still tried kicking out at the farrier.



  5. #5
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    I would have to say there is something wrong with this horse causing him great pain. You may not be able to diagnose it, and it may not be diagnosable. The dramatic changes in his behavior under saddle and with the farrier are happening for some reason more than high spirits or boredom.

    He seems very unhappy and it doesn't seem like there is a clear, likely path that will improve the situation. Putting him down sounds drastic, I realize, but I think it is something to seriously consider.

    You could try retirement board. Whether or not he would need shoes or medication I don't know - it really depends on how much pain he is in. But if he is in pain, and if he is that difficult for the farrier to handle, it's probably not a favor to him or anyone else for you to move him to a retirement board situation.
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


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  6. #6
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    I'd be in favor of just kicking him out into a pasture for a year and then see what happens. Obviously he'd have to be healed enough to do that.

    It might not cure it, and then you'd probably have to face some of the same questions. But, he might show substantial improvement, and you might be able to ride him or lease him to someone who wants to trail ride (or something).

    It's a gamble, but if you can afford the pasture-board for a year it might be worth it, particularly if you get any satisfaction from seeing him often and working with him on the ground. (A lot of horses become unmanageable on stall rest; personally--and I'm not a vet and have no delusions about being a vet--I think stall-rest is over-prescribed).

    Good luck.
    "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky


    5 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
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    Apr. 5, 2011
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    A lot of red flags here pointing to pain for your horse.

    When a horse's attitude changes for no apparent reason, pain is always a suspect (though of course, feed changes, new horses moving in, less turnout, etc. can also be factors). The fact that he's getting worse for the farrier is another major red flag for me. I'm curious as to whether the trainers you had him with rode him in a different saddle? If so, that might indicate some back pain. Someone else may know better than me, but I'd ask the vet about kissing spine?

    Honestly, I would have put him down with the fractured coffin bone. I agree with Eleanor. The pain, especially if he has undiagnosed pain along with the known problems, will only get worse with time. It's time to have a good, long talk with your vet and farrier about the long-term prognosis and decide what's best for you -- but more importantly, for your horse, who I can tell you love and only want the best for. Sometimes, the kindest thing we can do is take their pain away, and make it our own.


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  8. #8
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    Sep. 21, 2001
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    I am so very sorry - this is the worst situation to be in. I agree with the above posters that pain is the likely source of his behavior change.

    I had a horse who developed a cyst in his navicular bone at age 15. He became three legged lame overnight.... I was devastated. We were able to get him comfortable by doing a neurectomy - severing the nerves to just that part of the foot. It doesn't fix it of course, but it makes it so it doesn't hurt anymore, and allowed me to bring him back to light work like trail riding. Vets warned me that the nerves were very likely to grow back, but he was one of the lucky ones - he was comfortable until he died of colic at age 24. I had decided that if at any time the nerves regenerated, that I would put him down, but they never did.

    I highly recommend looking into it - it's a very inexpensive procedure, and may just get your horse back to being serviceably sound for light riding again.

    But if it doesn't do the trick, or if the coffin fracture can't be healed, then it is time to let him go. It is the right thing to do. Big hugs to you!
    where are we going, and why am I in this hand basket?


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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov. 21, 2014
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    OP I feel for you.

    First I will address farrier. Its very easy for horses to learn to act out towards farriers. Shoeing can become a long tetious task for farrier. Many farriers are not the most patient. Perhaps your Farrier is NOT the most patient. I have horses who need frequent rests - not many farriers are willing to give 2-3 hours of their time. Spooking is a common response for some horses - maybe you could use blinkers or put thick fuzzy cheek pieces on halter to limit field of vision.
    I don't think anyone could expect a 100% recovery. I would prolly employ the decision of other vet or farrier's.

    As mentioned De-nerving is a GREAT option. It will reduce the pain issues to non-existant. Personally I wouldn't give-up if the nerves grew back. I would do it again. Its relatively cheap & worth the couple years of effectly working. It may work better the second time ? It might work the first time ? Either way if he became serviceably sound for trails, lead line, light summer riding, was able to be a pasture mate. Surely then the possibility exists that he is able to provide a valuable service to someone in the future.

    I would try not to let your own fears of being timid influence any decisions. That's clearly on you. Nothing he can do to rectify that situation.

    I wouldn't write him off just yet.
    Grits & Gravity

    Disclosure Time ~ I'm not ur vet BLAH BLAH or ur consultant ~ IMHO~ MayB a conflict of interest BLAH BLAH !!!


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  10. #10
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    Dec. 14, 2014
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    Thanks for the responses...will read through them more in depth after work today but did want to make a clarification. Horse has never been very good with the farrier - he had a strong reaction first time he ever saw the farrier, before he was ever touched (backing all the way in the cross ties, front legs braced, almost sitting on his haunches, snorting, etc). Farrier has always been very good and patient, but horse could be reactive to sudden movements or touches, such as an elbow glancing across his stomach. Seems like something bad happened with a farrier at one point in the horse's life. The farrier really took his time with the horse and got to the point where he didn't need anyone to hold him etc. A short time before the coffin bone injury, the farrier was shoeing the horse and his elbow or something must have bumped, and horse reacted by spinning around in cross ties, knocking down the hoof stand and stepping on farrier. That, combined with the hoof injury, now has us with a horse that can't stand getting shod. The farrier is very good and works closely with the vet, so I don't want to switch to another farrier at this point when we are having issues with his foot and using special shoes. I have had other farriers look at him, however, and he reacts to their presence as well...it's a farrier thing with him. I think maybe he would do better with a woman farrier in the future, but unfortunately, none in this area.


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  11. #11
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    I agree it's time to let him go.
    Its sad that he doesn't get to live out his life expectancy, but I truly believe animals don't fret about their retirement plans as humans do.
    Letting him go softly is about the kindest act you can perform for him.


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  12. #12
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    Jan. 6, 2009
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    So sorry, it looks like the best thing to do is the last thing anyone wants to do.......


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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2enduraceriders View Post
    So sorry, it looks like the best thing to do is the last thing anyone wants to do.......
    It's the hardest decision you'll ever make for your horse- but it's one they don't make themselves. There is no shame in humanely ending a horse's pain, just heartbreak.

    Just a couple of thoughts--

    Daily previcox can cause ulcers, and some of his under saddle behavior might be attributed to them. EPM lesions can also cause behavioral changes - if he's relapsed to any degree, it might be a factor. EPM can also wreak havoc with their hind end, so any farrier work can be extremely uncomfortable for them.

    Add in the fracture, and if he were mine, I'd give him a month or so, and if no real changes or improvements, and I couldn't see putting him through more months of pain, I'd put him down.


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  14. #14
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    Overreactive horses belong in the hands of a professional.
    A professional will only keep them around if they have sterling qualities that make working around their quirks worth it.

    For the rest, that wants a horse to enjoy and do things with, such horses are an accident looking for a place to happen.

    There are way too many good, decent, honest horses out there.
    You would not live with a SO that is unpredictable and will fly off the handle without warning and everyone has to walk on eggs around it?
    Similar with a horse, that one seems to have problems that make it unsuitable to be around or ride and definitely hard to enjoy as you were expecting from your horse ownership.

    Maybe it is time to make the hard decision for this horse and move on.

    We don't keep horses of questionable temperament around, not worth it to other horses or the people that have to handle them.
    If we have a horse that is sweet and gets injured or starts acting up, that is a whole different situation.
    Your horse seems to have been of questionable temperament from the start, you have done enough for him now and are questioning, how much more?

    Only you can answer that one.

    We had a wonderful ranch horse that broke a wing of his coffin bone at 13.
    The vet put a cast on it, took it off later and the break was not healed, so put another cast.

    We tried for almost a year, but he never healed and was limping seriously.
    The vet said euthanizing him was best for him, he was getting arthritis into those joints also.

    We had an 8 year old with a break in the front of his coffin bone, the vet said turn him out for three months and see where we are.
    We did, he kept getting an abscess in that hoof, but other than that, after three months, the break had healed and he was fine from them on.

    I would say, if the break is not healing after some time, I am not sure it will with more time, but maybe you want to try giving him longer and see where you are?

    I would be more worried about his unpredictable temperament.
    That definitely is not acceptable for most people I know, because sooner or later someone is going to get hurt by being in harms way around such horses.


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  15. #15
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    OP - a boarder at our barn has a 10 yr old mare who broke a coffin bone at 3-4 yrs old. This horse has been stall bound pretty much ever since; with daily hand grazings. She has had chronic abcesses, tendon issues (every once in a while she gets wild...) laminitis. Her owner has gone above and beyond in caring for her and likes to think that she has a quality life.
    I disagree. Granted I'm only one person, but...

    If your horse has a poorly healing (after 8 months) coffin bone fracture and indications of pain, I can't imagine just turning him out to pasture to see what happens.

    Good luck with your decision.
    We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


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  16. #16
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    Well you cant put him out with a broken foot in Winter, so I guess it's continue as you are and maybe put him on reserpine or something else to make it safer for you, or put him down now? I wouldn't blame you at all...It might be nice to keep trying until Spring and see if you can find a pasture for a year to see if Dr Green can sort him out, but it's a long shot. Only you know...



  17. #17
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    A horse on long term stall rest who had farrier issues before is sometimes bad for the farrier and has his explosive moments when being handled. Color me... not even slightly surprised. Sounds like a perfect candidate for reserpine.

    It's up to you what you want to do. If you have no long term plans for the horse and/or you don't feel he can become pasture sound, then I think euthanasia is the kind option. If you're willing to treat and/or put him out to pasture to see if he comes pasture sound, and support him from then on in retirement-- that's the other option. He MIGHT come light riding sound but I frankly think he'd be a very difficult horse to give away. So you're looking at pensioning him.

    I have a horse who got West Nile and was never NQR, I've had him since he was 4 and it happened at 7 years old. He also had pre-existing problems from a stifle issue he had since coming off the track. Plus lyme, a fractured wither-- you name it, he had it. He's also a total bastard on the ground (only since the WNV, frankly I think when he was neurological he suffered brain damage) and herd bound to the point where he's dangerous to handle. I have paid to board him in retirement board since he was 8/9. I now have a farmette and he lives with me. I will support him as long as he's pasture sound... but if he has a traumatic injury that would require invasive efforts and/or long term stall rest-- I will put him down. He's just not a candidate for that. I will take care of him as long as he lasts but I will not go above and beyond to prolong his life.

    We all have to make our own choices. Good luck.
    ~Veronica
    "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
    http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/


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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by very.altered View Post
    Unfortunately, we tried the gel, but it didn't work...still tried kicking out at the farrier.
    When you tried the gel, how long did you wait and are you sure you gave enough. Also, you have to put it under their tongue, not simply in their mouth like a wormer. You then have to wait 40 minutes or more after administering it. Even when they start to get droopy and sleepy looking, you have to wait the full 40 minutes or they will start to wake up and the gel won't be effective. This stuff works on mules and I use it on my horse for clipping and believe, my horse does not like to be clipped on his belly (very ticklish), so I'm inclined to think the will gel work if administered correctly. However, warn the farrier to watch out for pee. It makes them pee....a lot!!

    Beyond all this, IF he gets to where he is sound again, I would suggest finding a reputable trainer and sending the horse off for 60-90 days and then seeing how it is doing. If it is doing well, put him on the market and have them sell him as clearly you are not equipped to deal with him. If he does not improve, you can really start to think about your legitimate options.


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  19. #19
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    Sometimes stuff just happens. So there's no shame in putting a horse down. If you give him away, you might be sending him to someone who will dump him after a few months, or send him to auction, or starve him, or send him to slaughter.

    I keep my horses for life. But that's a commitment that I do not make others have. I once boarded where a young horse had EPM and he had the sore back, sore hooves, etc. That horse, not mine, was blamed for misbehaving with farrier, when he actually was quite ill. Ended up being sent off.

    As for retirement farms, I saw a horse which had been sent to a retirement farm in VA by a woman with $$$ who worked in publishing in NYC. I wish I knew who owned that ex-show horse named "Cougar." When she sent the horse to GA, the mare had a raging eye infection and other issues, and ended up dead in a short time. As for rescue farms, read the Mill Creek thread on Coth. Responsible owners Euth horses that have no future when they cannot afford to keep the horses. It's not cruel, it's saving the horse from a slow and painful death. There are not many "forever" homes around. There are lots of frauds and liars who will tell you your horse will be safe. Don't believe them. And you are not alone, OP. Lots of people have horses with multiple issues.


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  20. #20
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    Injectible dorm can go IM, too. Takes longer, but works well.

    Given his totally over the top reactions to the farrier, and known feet issues, I'd really consider that being shod might cause him a LOT of pain. Horses only know now, and it sounds like this guy's now might be pretty unpleasant...and has been for a long time if he fractured his foot 8 months ago?

    Choosing to euthanize a horse that's in pain with multiple issues that are going to be difficult to manage well (at best here, really) isn't a failure. It's a kindness. It sure sounds like you've gone above and beyond to give this guy the opportunity to heal, but it might be time to say enough.


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