My 24 year old OTTB, Junior, locked up his stifle yesterday while lunging. He was playing around one second and trotting on three legs the next. It seemed to happen in an instant and it didn't even look like he didn't anything to hurt himself, but man is he hurt.
I had a vet out today and the vet diagnosed him with the locked stifle. He also has arthritis in his hocks, stifles, knees, and ankles. His back can't support the weight of a rider unless they are a young child. I haven't been able to keep him in consistent work due to the lameness problems that I have been struggling to solve over the last 2 years. In 2 years he has been lame for 1 1/2 of them.
His stifle is two times the size it should be from the arthritis. The vet gave me bute and said to try that and see if it helps. He said the only other option with how bad Junior is, would be to put him down. His stifle is so locked that he can't flex that rear leg hardly at all. Instead he just drags his toe behind him when he walks and he can only walk very slow. He seems as if he is concentrating really hard to walk. He just stands in his run with zero weight on that rear leg. He ate his dinner last night, but didn't eat much of his hay this morning and you can tell he isn't happy.
I am going to try the bute, I know some people don't agree with it but I will do what the vet suggested. Right now it is looking like the option is to bute him through the summer and love on him. Give him lots of attention and then put him down before winter hits. He doesn't winter well and I just don't know if it would be fair to put him through another winter now that he is hurt.
People have told me that I should just get injections done or have the stifle cut. But I am just not sure that it is even fair to put a 24 year old horse through that kind of surgery and rehab. His life was extremely hard on him before I got him and his body just seems to be giving out on him. He hasn't been near as active in the last month as he was previously. He is still excited to see me and his horsey friends, but I know he is in pain right now.
Honestly, what would you do? I won't put him down right away unless he shows that he can't handle it. I want to try the bute first. Winter is what I worry about. I love him with all my heart and this is a really hard time for him and I. I feel that people think I am putting him down to take the easy way out, but really I don't think it is fair to keep a horse alive on bute just to fulfill my own selfish desires.