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This is a discussion on Retirement? within the Horse Talk forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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        01-28-2010, 11:08 AM

    Before this leg injury thing happened, Nelson was strong, healthy and hearty. Going strong, acting like he was 10, not 20 and loved doing his job.

    Now, that his leg injury occured - Nelson has lost weight, lost all of his muscle mass and looks miserable.

    People are telling me "Retire Nelson, find him a good home where he can be in retirement/light work and move on" "Retire Nelson now while you can, before he gets too old where no one will want him." but I have a hard time accepting that. I have a hard time "dumping" Nelson. I can't do it.

    But are they right? I see 24 year old's Eventing and going strong. Heck, my Coaches horse is 24 and doing Prelim/Advanced - so I think "why can't Nelson?"

    I keep saying to myself "I just need to get him back into shape and he'll be just fine" but then his leg injury keeps popping into my head - was it my fault?

    When I first got him, I remember his previous owner had him on Adequan, which I kept up for as long as I could afford. But due to Hubby losing his job and all other life circumstances that befell us, I couldn't keep it up.

    Thinking back on it, I remember after we moved to Lou Don, while grooming him in the isle way, I remember he lifting up his hind right leg, the very one with the "injury", holding it for a bit and then placing it back down.

    Could that "injury" been a cause of regular wear and tear, getting older, not taking care of his hock with suppliments?

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        01-28-2010, 11:14 AM
    I wouldnt give up on him, sometimes they just need some time to bounce back from an injury.

    Also, I don't know what your vet has, but I get generic adequan from my vet for $13. I know some people will say it doesnt work as well, but it works great for my horses
        01-28-2010, 11:29 AM
    I think that we all do the best we can for our horses. I recently put my gelding, who is only 12 but comes from a long career on the track, back on joint supplements because he has arthritis in his back legs. He didn't come to me with this knowledge, because his previous owners had not worked him. I saw the pain that he was in, and knew that supplements were something that he needed to have, not a luxury. You had no idea what taking him off of the Adequan would do to him, or to what degree. But, now that you do know, what are you going to do with it? I'm sure that Nelson could continue eventing, but not without some help. Perhaps the Adequan was what kept him going with you in the first place, rather than falling apart.

    You also mentioned that there are horses who aren't much older than Nelson doing more advanced work than he is currently. While this is a great arguement for his potential, its also an excellent arguement for his longevity. Is four more years on Nelson really worth it to you? What is Nelson going to look like at the end of those four years? If you sell him now in his current condition to some little girl, would she still be able to use him at the end of these four years?

    Its very hard for us to give up our dreams for something, especially when there is some sort of relationship involved. It becomes very easy for us to be selfish and only think of ourselves, because after all a horse can't butt in and say "I don't want to do that anymore". But especially with an older horse, and one that may be in pain, we HAVE to put aside our dreams and look at the reality. If you honestly think that with a little bit of conditioning and correct care (that you can monetarily provide) that Nelson will come out of this no worse for wear, go for it. But if its just going to end up hurting him in the long run, or you can't provide him what he needs, then I say it is time to retire him and find a younger mount.

    Sorry for the novel, lol. Hope it helps!
        01-28-2010, 01:56 PM
    I had a gelding who had an injury, I did bring him back from it and we continued jumping for about 3 years (he was 11). He did good for a while but then it just seemed like he lost his edge and the injury kept flaring up on us. It took me a while but I ended up giving him to a family and their kid and he is SOOO happy just being pampered.

    My friend has a horse in his late teens and is bringing up a 4 year old for English Pleasure. She never has time for the older horse, he hates the arena and loves trails but she is no longer interested in trails and hardly every has time for him anyway. He just sits in his paddock looking sad or ticked off when she is riding the other horse. I have suggested she find him a home that suites him better but she just wont, she's to attached. His behavior has become unpredictable and even dangerous (can't mount, hard to catch, abusive toward the younger horse, runs off for no reason).

    I know it's hard to let go and move on. But maybe sitting down with a list and pros and cons of each out come would help? It's a very hard decision so I think your smart not just jumping into it.
        01-28-2010, 08:28 PM
    Green Broke
    Not an easy place to be. But in the end, you will do what's best for Nelson. Bringing an older horse like Nelson back into competing condition will take time and you will always have to be aware of his leg (sorry not sure what the situation is). One false move and it could end badly with these older horses. Many times their heart and spirit are more than willing, but the body can't withstand the demand any longer.

    I like what was written earlier about letting him be useful (not at the level you've had him of course) and being some lucky little girl's teaching horse. I would want that option for one of mine if and when we face that. These tried and true older horses are worth their weight in gold.

    Whatever you decide, I know it will be based on what is best for Nelson, you've been a good friend/owner to him. Good luck.
        01-28-2010, 09:39 PM
    I spoke with my Vet today, and we had a good long talk.

    I asked her if his hock issue was due to he not being on Adequan and she said definitely not. This was a freak accident, it was severe tissue damage, which resulted into an infection. She said this could of happened by him slipping out on the ice out in pasture, or some sort of trauma.

    Severe trauma to the joint, then resulting into the infection and voila.

    My Vet said, retirement or no retirement relies entirely on what his hock is going to do from here.

    We talked about him being put back onto Adequan and she said definitely. What Adequan was designed to do, was repair. It isn't meant to be a long term suppliment, but meant to repair damage, then the user is meant to go to a maintenance suppliment - like Polyglycam or Glucosamine.

    So I am going to get him back on Adequan for a few months and also a good oral suppliment and work on getting him fattened up and muscled up.

    I cannot afford two horses, so if Nelson's hock tells us that he can't do what I want to do, then I will have to find him a new home. I just beat myself up because if I do that, I feel like I am "dumping" him and giving up on him. I promised him through thick and thin, and if I let him go to someone else - it'll kill me.

    And I cannot bare the thought of him going to someone until they grow tired, and dump him off at some meat auction - I can't let that happen to him.
        01-28-2010, 09:57 PM
    ^^I completely know what you mean. I promised myself that I would be with Ice till the end, especially after he was passed around so much in his racing career. Thankfully I don't have high career expectations for him, but money is a constant worry. I don't know what I would do if I had to sell him.

    There is always the alternative that you can lease him out, but keep him at your current boarding facility, or at your house (I don't know what your situation is) so you can still see him, love on him, etc but you won't have to feel guilty about just letting him waste away.
        01-29-2010, 10:05 PM
    I am feeling much better today about Nelson's recovery. I was able to get out after work to ride, thankfully the snow stopped and the roads cleared up :)

    The heat in his hock is gone, and the swelling is almost gone. He moves great at the walk *we haven't merged into the trot yet* and I am quite happy :) Very happy :) :)

    He still needs weight, he is still ribby - and he definitely needs muscle mass, but both will come over time.

    He has a round bale in his paddock, and he is at 2 pounds of Purina Senior twice a day *gradually increasing back to 4 pounds* so I am feeling good about his progress.

    I'm starting Adequan for him starting Feb 1st, and he has a shipment of Corta-Flx HA coming in from a website where I found on sale.

    So I am thinking positive - retirement is still in the back of my head, but I am going to let him tell me when he is ready. I don't think that is now, but we will see.

    The BO of the place where we are at, said she would take him and use him as a beginner rider lesson horse - walk, trot, canter - when the time came, so that I can move onto a younger horse to move forward with my Eventing Career.

    So one day at a time, no rushing - but trying to plan ahead so that Nelson and I have a back up plan :)
        01-29-2010, 10:14 PM
    Green Broke
    Things sound like they are moving in a positive direction! Very happy for both you and Nelson. Must be a relief knowing that if he can't get back to competition that the BO will use him in an appropriate way.

    Like you said, he'll let you know what he can do. Best of luck to you both!
        01-29-2010, 10:39 PM
    Thanks Walkamile!

    I have shed alot of tears over this during the last 2 days. I love Nelson so much, and I am very protective of him. He has been through so much throughout his life, bought and sold and used and dumped by Humans, and I krefuse to be another Human to do that to him.

    I wont let him suffer either. Meaning I wont use him beyond his capeabillities.

    I can't give him to a family either, without the reassurance that he wont go to auction in a kill pen - because that would devistate me, there is no way I will allow that to happen, he doesn't deserve it. He deserves to spend the last years of his life, happy, comfortable, out in a field, fat and rolly polly - and that is why I am very protective of him.

    And if that means me giving up my Eventing, to ensure that he is well kept and taken care of, then so be it.

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