How do you know when it's "time"?... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 10-10-2012, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy How do you know when it's "time"?...

So every fall I get a little morose on the whole Lacey subject mostly due to going back to school, having less horse time, etc etc.
However, currently I'm actually genuinely worried due to how the last 6+months have been for Lacey - is it REALLY fair to keep her around much longer?
I'm probably overreacting = the reason for this thread. You guys generally have good outside perspectives that I really value to help me keep my head. :)

Basically, this is probably going to get long so bear with me:

So last April she had a super severe ERU (Moon Blindness) flare up (SUPER painful). At that time I first learned that she even HAD ERU. She's had it for some time since she's very close to blind currently (each flare up causes some vision loss) and now she's being cared for appropriately but she only has maybe 5% vision in one eye and mayyybe 15% in the other eye.
All summer she was in daily pain from her eyes, even with a 90% UV blocking flymask (UV is the "bad guy" here) so she was on daily painkillers ("natural" stuff that has abilities like bute without some of the more terrible side effects).

Now that it's starting to cool off, her eyes are doing tons better and we have finally gotten them under control (as much as something like this can be). They haven't been swollen/watery/etc in weeks and she's obviously not in too much pain from them (still wearing a flymask 24/7 though - 75% UV blocking at night, 90% blocking during the day). I've actually taken her off the painkillers for now so she's only on anti-inflammatories (30,000mg of MSM is the eyeball "therapeutic" level, flax seed, ACV, etc) and she's doing really well that way.

HOWEVER, now that we got that under control, she's tweaked something in her left front pastern and it's been swollen and very sore for some time.
She first did something to it about 3 weeks ago (she twisted it going into a trot), then it seemed to heal up 90% of the way, then she started running around again and BAM, now it's swollen daily and obviously very painful. The swelling goes down the more she walks around and some days it's better than others but I don't know.
The vet was pretty unconcerned until she re-did whatever she did and then it hasn't gotten better - they're coming out on Saturday to take a look (I'm in school from 8-5:30 so not a whole lotta daylight time for a vet visit during the week, unfortunately, otherwise it would be sooner).
With this^ she's even limping at a walk. Cold hosing helps with the walk-limp though so that part at least might just be swelling.
Anyway, so I'm pretty nervous about this vet visit. I can't FEEL anything on her legs that I would term as "unusual", but she is 27 and certainly does not have the smooth legs of a youngster.

Then, we're about to go into winter and with the mud that will inevitably come and her eyesight...

I just don't know.

I don't even want to think about not having my best friend around but at the same time....I REALLY don't like this whole "daily pain" aspect of her life.

Attitude-wise, she's doing great. Happy to see me everyday, grazing around the pasture per her usual behavior, trotting (ie, gimping) and cantering upon occasion - much to my chagrin, eating all her food, not laying down more that usual, etc etc. She actually shoved past me the other day as I was coming in the gate + got "out" and went on a little fast walking tour of the neighborhood - VERY happy to be out.

Basically, physically she's like at 65% awesome and mentally she's at 100% awesome. If she were low % in both areas, the choice might be easy (well, obviously not, but easier).

Though I don't want to, retiring her most all the way is definitely in the cards. Especially with my school schedule, even if she was up to riding, I really don't have the time except for the weekend. :/

I always said I would do it when L got close to 50% daily pain with no hope of recovery but when her mind is so happy? And of course, hopefully the vet will say that she just needs some...I dunno...but that she'll recover in 2 weeks if I follow 5 special steps..or something.

Hrmph. Darn old horses. I want her to be like 42 and the happiest old horse in the world. That'd be ideal. And maybe she still will get to 42, maybe this is just a minor setback...

I will obviously based my opinion off what the vet has to say when she comes out but I don't want to prolong the inevitable out forever for the sake of my own heart. That's just not fair to the old girl.

But basically with your current/past horses, when would you/have you drawn the "line"?

Thanks for listening to my ramble...

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #2 of 10 Old 10-10-2012, 04:04 PM
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Wallaby, it's not always true that a horse will tell you when they're ready to go. So many of them are extremely stoic, and won't show the majority of their pain even if it's bad.

If the vet thinks the pain is manageable and you're willing to retire her, I say give her whatever time you want her to have unless you really think she won't be able to handle another winter.

She's 27. I know you'd like her to live many years longer, but that's a pretty darned good age for a horse to have reached. We hear about the 42 year olds because they're rare. The majority of horses go between 25 and 30.

You're a good owner, and I know you'll make the right call no matter what. It's difficult to let them go, but it's even more difficult to watch them struggle to get up, try to run with the herd and fail, or refuse to lay down because they can't get back up without human intervention.

I have a 26 year old that I keep wondering every fall whether it's time to let him go. So far no, but I'm fairly certain he won't see 30.

Big hugs, and try not to worry too much until you get your vet's opinion.
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Last edited by Speed Racer; 10-10-2012 at 04:06 PM.
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post #3 of 10 Old 10-10-2012, 05:39 PM
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I totally agree with speed. I think we ALL know you love Lacey and put her first before whatever your needs are, so you will be able to make the right decision for her. I think getting your vet's opinion is a very good idea. Horses are prey animals and they try very hard to please us which makes them masters at hiding pain and suffering. On the other hand, you're such a dedicated owner that you may be able to get her through a winter and have some good time with her. It is hard for someone who isn't examining her to make a sound call on this so I think if you trust your vet, you can work together to come to the best decision for you guys. So sorry you're even having to think of this, but so happy that Lacey has someone who loves her so much.
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post #4 of 10 Old 10-11-2012, 06:44 PM
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I too agree with Speed Racer. And I think that your thought processes are good too. The vet will certainly be able to help you, but ultimately your going to have to decide when it's time. I get really choked up with this subject because last january I lost my Big Joe. He was 2 weeks away from being 24, healthy as could be, and I was certainly no where close to thinking about that kind of decision with Joe. But somehow he broke his left humerous (shoulder), and we had to put him down. He really perked up when he saw my wife, and even ate his dinner while we waited for the vet to get there. But there was just no recovering fromthat break. And it was so hard to lose my best friend that night, and I wish I would have been able to make that kind of decision with Joe. But I didn't, and it was fast, and painful for all of us. I guess what I'm saying is you are doing all the right things and you'll know when it's time. I know you will because your heart is in the right place. I wish we didn't have to think about these things, but it's part of what our horses, our partners trust us with. I mean, that's why they do what we ask, and try so hard to please us isn't it. They trust us to take care of them. And it sounds like you have done, and are doing such a wonderful job of that with Lacey. May you always feel Lacey's breath on your neck.
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post #5 of 10 Old 10-14-2012, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks you for your support guys. I really appreciate it.
I'm so sorry about Joe, mfed! That would be so hard. Something you never saw coming.
And thanks for the perspective, Speed. It REALLY helped me. :)

So, the vet came yesterday and examined her. She feels like Lacey tore/partially tore her suspensory. She also felt that in terms of injury, this one was not the one to let Lacey go over. I specifically asked her about quality of life and she said that, from the way Lacey was moving, she feels it's more of a "oops, I turned too fast and it HURT!" pain vs a constant pain situation which is a HUGE relief to me.
Basically, the game plan is that Lacey is now totally retired, save maybe toting a small child around at the walk in a couple of months, no forced trotting/canter, no lunging, etc.
The vet feels like there is a chance she could recover enough for me to ride her around, at a walk, in a year or so but that she'll basically always have a gimp at the trot, even once she heals.

The vet said that she is definitely pasture sound, as she put it, when I said I just wanted her to be pasture sound, "This IS the definition of pasture sound, silly!" so I'm pretty relieved right now.

So while it's totally bittersweet that I can't ride her anymore, I'm thrilled that it's not cruel to let her keep going.
And, now she gets to live the good life of no work and getting fatter and sassier. What a bummer for her!

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #6 of 10 Old 10-14-2012, 06:26 PM
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Wonderful news!

I'm so glad your girl will be around to take up the position of Pasture Maintenance Supervisor. That's a very important job, and only the most deserving get to have that title.
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post #7 of 10 Old 10-14-2012, 06:44 PM
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I am glad that you and the vet were able to talk about your concerns that your girl isn't in chronic pain. Hopefully she'll give you a few more good years now that you know how to help manage the ERU.

When to say goodbye is always a hard thought. One thing to remember is that it's better to say goodbye "too soon" than to do so "too late" and have allowed her to suffer when you could have prevented it (not that she is now, but hopefully far in the future). Too many people regret having waited and I think that guilt can be hard to carry.
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post #8 of 10 Old 10-14-2012, 06:59 PM
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SR - I love that "Pasture Maintenance Supervisor!" PMS -- ha ha ! So when I'm being 'not nice' I will tell the family that I am busy supervising and will visit my horse! One day, she will be PMS and I will be over that (I hope), so we'll have a nice switch-over.
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post #9 of 10 Old 10-15-2012, 01:18 AM Thread Starter
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Pasture Maintenance Supervisor is perfect! Suits her new role to a T. I love it!
I'm also so so glad she gets to be one. :)
I'm really excited about our new life together. I really enjoy just hanging out with her so this is kind of the "excuse" I've needed to actually do that instead of running around all ADD with a goal in mind constantly. It'll be nice.

Thanks Sharpie, I totalllly agree with you. That was basically what prompted this thread. Though I dread the day Miss L has to go, I fear the day that takes her one day past "too much" even more. At the same time though, I don't think I could live with myself if I had her "arbitrarily" put down (though I TOTALLY get what you're saying). She already narrowly missed being put down due to being "old" (at 23, she was scheduled to be put down in 4 days on the day I met her+took her home) so I don't know, a part of me this time it should be "her" choice, if at all possible. Of course, I will make the choice for her if it comes to that but yknow. So many ramble-y thoughts! Sorry. haha

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.

Last edited by Wallaby; 10-15-2012 at 01:20 AM.
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post #10 of 10 Old 10-16-2012, 10:20 AM
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Hey... Pasture Maintenance Supervisor requires experience and wisdom! sounds like Lacey's new calling! I'm really happy for you both!
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