elderly shetland can't stand up - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 01-13-2010, 04:30 PM Thread Starter
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elderly shetland can't stand up

Hi all, am new to the forum and just wondered if anyone has had a similar problem to me.
We have a shetland who is in her late 20's. Last week she rolled in the field but was struggling to get back up. She suffers from arthritis in her legs and gets quite stiff in the winter.
With a little help from us she was standing and was fine for a few days, as the weather has got colder she is getting worse. It now seems to be everytime she lies down we have to help get her back end up. Once she is up she is fine, although when she has gone down in the night she has been unsteady for a little while on standing (we put a strap under her for 30mins or so to help take the weight until the stiffness eases). She is eating and drinking well and is her usual bossy self. We have kept her stabled due to snow/mud etc and to make the lifting easier.

I am hoping when the warmer weather comes and her joints ease she will be ok and will see another summer.

How long can a horse stand before it needs to lie down to rest - I have tried to search for this info online but keep getting different answers?

I would be grateful if anyone who has had a similar experience could give some advice.

Really don't want to have her pts yet but obviously if she deteriorates we would not let her suffer.
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post #2 of 18 Old 01-13-2010, 04:37 PM
Green Broke
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hmm maybe it is the cold weather, it is not always kind to our elderly friends. maybe box rest would do her some favourse, not all the time let her stretch her legs, see her friend etc. but even without heating a stable is a lot warmer than being outside.

Keep your feet on the ground when your head's in the clouds.
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post #3 of 18 Old 01-13-2010, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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She has a double stable to herself at the moment so plenty of space to move around. Its too icy to walk her on the yard at present so she isn't getting the movement I would like though as I wouldn't want her to slip.
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post #4 of 18 Old 01-13-2010, 04:49 PM
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Is she on any supplements?

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post #5 of 18 Old 01-13-2010, 04:50 PM
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Sounds age related. Just like humans, horses get arthritis and have joint issues as they get older.

If you can get her up and on her feet and she seems fine afterwards, she's not ready to go yet.

However, if she goes down and you can't get her back up, or if she looks like she's struggling to keep her balance, it might be kinder to make the call.

I'm watching my 23 y/o gelding. He has breathing issues and arthritis in his hocks. In winter his breathing tends to be better, but he's much more stiff and doesn't like to move around much. I may just let him go before full summer hits, because his breathing problems are heightened during heat and humidity.

He's on medication and supplements but their bodies, like ours, just eventually wear out. I didn't get him until he was 19, so I don't know what his life was like before he came to me.

Horses can sleep standing up, but many like to lie down for their REM sleep. They don't tend to sleep for hours lying down.

Last edited by Speed Racer; 01-13-2010 at 04:59 PM.
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post #6 of 18 Old 01-13-2010, 06:14 PM
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If she's not on any supplements, I would highly recommend getting her on one for her joints; glucosamine, chondrointin and msm, can help ALOT with arthritus symptoms. You may also want to get some kind of pain reliever for her, atleast for a little while, as the supplement will take a while before it starts to work.

"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
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post #7 of 18 Old 01-13-2010, 06:25 PM
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Definately supplements if she isn't on any yet. We had my dad's horse on 4-flex, and it worked wonders. He was 35+ years old when we had to put him down because he colicked. But he too would have issues standing after he laid down to roll. We never got to the point where we had to help him up, but he definately struggled. Once he was up, he was absolutely fine. He would run, buck, kick, he was still jumping small cross rails, and was barrel racing, albiet slower than he was years ago when that was his job. We just made sure he got supplements every day, and on some of his worse days, we'd also give him a bute tab or two, and just walk him around the ranch. Fortunately here our winters don't get very cold, which I'm sure helped him out a lot, but it was just a lot of maintenance, making sure that he was as comfortable as we could make him, and keeping in contact with the vet, to make sure we were doing the best thing for him. I agree that as long as you can still help her get up, and she's fine once she's standing, she's not ready to go. When she's ready, she'll tell you. Good luck with her. Give her some hugs.
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post #8 of 18 Old 01-14-2010, 05:08 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your replies.

My gut feeling is that she has plenty of life in her yet, but wasn't sure if that was just because I wanted her to.

She is on 16+ veteran feed 3xdaily, she has a morning feed of bran and beet and supplements of garlic, cider vinegar, cod liver oil and I have just changed her joint supplement to naf5*superflex. She has continuous access to good quality hay.

She doesn't seem to be in any pain just a little uncomfortable on the back legs when having her hooves done by the farrier, no problems when just lifting to clean them.

The weather has been bitter here down to -16 some nights so am hoping that this is what is aggravating her condition.

Thanks again and I will give you an update in a week or so.
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post #9 of 18 Old 01-14-2010, 10:11 AM
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One thing you need to consider is that stalling her is actually causing her to be more stiff. Even if it's snowy and muddy, she is better off if she can get outside and move around but have shelter available to her. Movement helps to keep the joints working better with arthritic humans or animals. If she can't be turned out, she needs to at least get out and get exercised a couple of times a day.

Glucosamine/chondroitin supplements can help with joint function as well, but you should consider that in times like this you should probably use a bit of Bute to help minimize joint pain and encourage movement and ability to get up and down.

Cindy D.
Licensed Veterinary Technician
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post #10 of 18 Old 01-14-2010, 10:52 AM
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Ryle has some really good points. I've found my old mare gets stiffer the colder it gets and doesn't want to move around as much. She is arthritic in the back end and the front to the point that it is very difficult to trim her hooves. When it's really bad I give her a little bit of bute to make her more comfortable. Otherwise I try to keep her moving. Nothing crazy, but when I'm just riding Soda around in the front pasture I'll let her walk herself behind us. Or I take her on walks during the day. In addition she is on 24/7 turnout in a 1.5 acre paddock w/ a young horse that makes her move around more. I've had plenty of people tell me they can't believe that she's as old as she is (30 this year). Just this year I started her on a senior supplement to help a bit with the pain. It's helped quite a bit so far.

I would say that it may look too icy to you for her to be out and about, but she can probably handle it just fine. As long as it's not on a slope or anything. My paddock turns into an ice rink in the spring and Flame does just fine. She just walks a little more carefullly.
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