Many of you are familiar with our QH mare, Delriah, who will be turning 50 years old this year. She's been such a wonderful horse, always willing to do anything that you ask of her and more, never complaining and always ready for her next job. But unfortunately, horses don't live forever- and dispite having been so healthy for such a long time, and spoiling us to her easy nature and simple requests, Delriah has finally made it known to us that she is no longer able to work.
We tried multiple times through the past few years to retire the old gal, wanting to give her the retirement that she deserves- and every time, she politely declined, and asked to continue working. She loved having a job, and looked forewards to having the kids come out and ride her every week. After trying so many times to retire her and having her become depressed and moody until we put her back into work, we decided that we would allow her to tell us when she was finished, and she finally let us know last month when her artheritis starting getting worse, by simply refusing to move. I think she knows that it isn't safe for her to work anymore, and with winter coming, we agree.
And so Delriah was officially retired last month, and the crazy old age of 49 years old. What a wonderful animal she has been, but her years are finally beginning to catch up with her, and I need some help keeping her as happy and comfortable as possible.
We currently have Del on soaked alfalfa pellets (due to her teeth being so worn down), Purina Equine Senior, psyllium, and biotin, as well as Glucosomine Sulfate (sp?) for her artheritis. Her weight is fair, although I wouldn't mind another few pounds on her.
Delriahs main problem right now is the artheritis, mostly in her shoulders and hocks. Her hocks are fairly stocked up right now, and I have been soaking them in an epsom salt and warm water solution every morning, but it will soon be cold (still only 60s here, for now, but cold will be setting in quickly) and I'd really like some other ideas to help her feel better. I've also noticed a bit of swelling in her knees. The vet has recommended Legend to us, which has the glucosomine that we are already giving her, as well as Chondriotin Sulfate, and is given by injection. Is anyone familiar with this? Has it helped your horse? Any other ideas are very welcome, as well as light exercise ideas to keep her active. As of right now I am having the kids pony her through the trails twice a week, but soon it will be too cold/icy for them to safely ride the trails.
I've also noticed quite a bit of nerve deterioration in her back legs in the past month or two, which has caused stumbling and tripping quite often. I know that this is typical in older horses, but anything to help preserve the nerves that she still has/ help her out with balance would be great. I'm having a difficult time right now with cleaning her feel because she sways, and I am afraid she will fall. Same goes for trimming, unfortunately.
She has lived out 24/7 in the years we've had her, but the BO and a few of us were discussing bringing her to another stable in order to have her stalled- since we expect to have a very cold January and Febuary. We aren't equipped with anything more than 3 walled sheds and 4 outdoor stalls. Do you guys think it would benifit her to be stalled (with turnout, but with 5 other horses) or should we keep her here, where she is used to everyone already, and just blanket her when it is cold?
Any other advice is appreciated.
I know that we cannot make her live any longer than she was destined to live, but I would like to give her a nice retirement, no matter how short that might be. When it gets to where we can not moderate her pain, we will put her down- but at this point I feel that she still wants to live, and we will not deny her that right.