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Endiku 01-02-2012 05:14 PM

Delriah is slowing down.
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.

kcscott85 01-02-2012 05:38 PM

I wouldn't go on my advice alone since I don't really have experience with older horses (especially that!). The majority of my horse experience has been training and showing younger horses. her age I wouldn't want to move her and upset her routine. It's easy to stress out any horse by moving them and that can cause medical issues like ulcers, colic, etc. And since you say she already has some issues, moving her away from her family and everything that is familiar may not be the best idea. I would go with blanketing. If she's cold she can always go into the shed.

See what the others say though.

What in the world is your secret? I've never met a horse over 32, and she acted like she was on death's door. Your mare sounds wonderful and she's so cute! Such a lovely expression on her face.

InStyle 01-02-2012 05:46 PM

What a cutie ! And I can't believe her age ! WOW! How nice for you to have her that long and having her want to work! I wouldn't want to move her at her age, just blanket as needed.
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NorthernMama 01-02-2012 05:47 PM

Wow! 50!:shock: Good job, excellent horse. She looks great!

As for stalling her -- nix that. She needs to have as much movement as she can / will tolerate or her arthritis will get worse in a hurry. As already noted, moving her from her mates will confuse her as well I think.

She doesn't look like she needs a blanket, but it's probably a good idea to have one around for the wet/windy/cold days *if* she wants it. Only you will know when she looks like she is not keeping her heat well. Forage feed of course keeps the heat, straw especially, but I suspect she can't eat that. I amazed that she has teeth at all!

I didn't notice where you are, but your biggest concerns will be the footing. She is already unsteady and a slip may be the last for her. That would be a very sad thing -- if she died from a fall / broken bones / pain.

After all you have done for her, I hope she enjoys her retirement she well deserves!

Endiku 01-02-2012 06:15 PM

Thank you everyone, for your kind words. We are so blessed to have gotten to know Delriah over the past few years. She is a wonderful, and is the one who 'taught' me to ride, as well as dozens of other peoeple- including her therapy children. Her quiet nature can't be matched, and I doubt we'll ever have another animal like her.

Footing and the cold were our main reasons for concern, when we were talking about moving her, but you guys are right. I'd hate to make her nervous and completely change her routine after so many years, especially because she tends to colic easily when she is upset.

kcscott85, really- there isn't any secret. We just happend to stumble upon a real treasure about eleven years ago, when searching for a 'been there done that' lesson horse. Her spunk even at that age was remarkable and we fell in love with her, but up until very lately she hasn't been treated a bit different that any of our other lesson horses. A healthy but plain diet, working for 2-3 hours twice a week, 24-7 outdoor pasture...really, I think its the simplicity of her lifestyle that kept her going. That, and her sense of purpose. She just loves to have someone to depend on her. It was definately out of character when she no longer wanted to come out for work, and that's when we knew it was time. I just hope that she doesn't become depressed again without a job. She's worked for over 46 years. It's strange for her to not have something to do every morning, I'm sure.

NorthernMama- unfortunately she can't eat hay very well anymore, but we do allow her to graze for a few hours every day, on whatever she can get- and she is offered soaked timothy. She rarely eats it though.

She has been kept with 8 miniature horses, a 3 year old colt, a 7 year old lesson horse, and another 28 year old semi-retired mare, but since it's been harder for her to get around, we have moved the colt (just too rambunctious for her) and the 7 year old. What if we put her in a paddock with one or two of her more steady, easy going companions? We have a 80x60 foot area that has better footing than the area that we have her in now (which is a dry lot, and so gets very muddy) you think that would be feasable? I could probably get permission to move her and the 28 year old, as well as our miniature donkey or one of the therapy ponies into it, if it would help her.

waresbear 01-02-2012 06:23 PM

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You don't want anymore weight on her, that would be harder on her for her arthritic joints. I have heard good things about Legend, have not used it on my horses but if I had a horse that needed it, I would. Light activity is best for arthritis, it keeps the sinoveal fluid going, but I am suspecting at her age, she doesn't have much left. Do what you can to keep this grand old lady happy, she deserves it.

Endiku 01-02-2012 06:33 PM

that's very true...I didn't think about that. So her weight looks fine, I'm assuming?

waresbear 01-02-2012 06:44 PM

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From the picture, she looks perfect to me. She looks very well taken care of.

xxGallopxx 01-02-2012 06:55 PM

Her weight looks great to me (: Especially for a 50 year old horse! Wow! You are such a wonderful owner! (: Could you get any supplements that would help her arthritis to mix in with her grain? Try to find something at SmartPak. I've never used it before, but I'm sure they've got something that would help her arthritis. If not, you could just get her a joint supplement maybe? I can't offer any other advice, I only own a 6 year old lol.

Moveurasets 01-02-2012 07:08 PM

Wow she looks great would never guess she was 50, Can tell you really care about her and her well being. Sorry I have No experience with older horses mine are 12 and 7 and just got them lol. I wish you both the best.

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