It hurts my heart - Page 2

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It hurts my heart

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    07-30-2013, 10:20 PM
We've had three horses pass in the two years I've worked at my barn. One was only 14, but had a tumor on her pituitary gland. She was getting free-choice alfalfa, soaked beetpulp 2x a day, ricebran, 6lbs sweetfeed, and still was a 2 out of 9 on the BCS chart. She would trot out to the pasture and back, so no one thought anything of it.

Monkey was suffering from a progressive neurological condition (from possum poop?) and he was 40. He couldn't walk anymore= put down.

Sugarbear, my trusty steed for two years of lessons carried me on my first (disasterous) jumping lesson. I was going over groundpoles, and he kept trying to take me over the 6"-1' jumps that were left out. His owner rode him over them to show me how it was done. The whole lesson was an hour, mosty trotting. The next night he passed.

It depends on each horse, but if she is still being spunky and energetic, then I'd let her chose.
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    07-30-2013, 10:22 PM
I never want to euthanize an animal on the worst day of their life. I want to let them go before that- hopefully after a nice warm day where they got to do whatever it is they love and get tons of their favorite treats. I want to euthanize them before they're suffering horribly, since I feel it is my responsibility to spare them that pain, no matter how it might pain me.
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    08-01-2013, 06:10 PM
I am going to be battling the same thing very very shortly. We have a welsh mix vet says he is about 26 yo but my husbands mother (originally purchased the horse for my husband as a child) says he is closer to 30 yo. But anyway. We made it threw the majority of last winter without any problems and then must have all hit him at once. He went from being a 6 to a 1.5 in no time. He was lame almost everyday. Vets couldnt figure out what was going on or why he had dropped weight so drastically. We were just getting our spring grass in so we figured we would give him a shot and hopefully he would recoop. Well, he is now no longer limping and is getting around much better but he is only scoring out at about a 3-3.5. We can't get the weight back on him. We have tried rediculous amounts of feed (he is on an all forage diet). All his blood work is coming back perfect. Its just his time. Im hoping my husband will make the call before winter hits because I do not want to walk out into the pasture and realize I can't get the old man up.
    08-01-2013, 06:13 PM
Toosexy, I have a 27 y/o that I keep a very close eye on, and every year I wonder if it's his last. It might be this year, as I'm having trouble keeping weight on him and it's still summer. I dread trying to put weight on him in the winter, as I know it's an uphill battle when it's cold outside.
    08-01-2013, 06:35 PM
Super Moderator
I dread having to make this decision for my 28 year old mare, I feel for you!!

In my case, my girl is Insulin Resistant, has ERU [Moonblindness] and is mostly blind+has some daily pain from that. However, she's nearly arthritis-free, still enjoys running around her pasture, and going on long trail rides [mostly walking these days, just to save her joints and because she had to take last winter off, then lost all the conditioning she had'll be too strenuous on her to get her back to where she used to be].

Anyway, last fall she tore/partially tore a suspensory [from running around too much! Haha] and seeing her gimping around every day was killing me. I started talking to people about when/what would cause them to think it was "time" and I started talking to my vet about our options. Lacey was, by the vet's estimation, "the definition of pasture sound" and the vet said that she did not feel [after Lacey shoved the vet, with her head, for not petting her 'soon enough'! Ha!] that Lacey was mentally ready to go.

We decided that when Lacey's pain/discomfort levels [from her eyes or from arthritis or from whatever may be down the road] hit 50% or higher -as in, she's unable to do 50% of her daily activities without pain/discomfort- in a way that's long term [a part of ERU is irregular eye episodes where she'll be in intense pain and on high doses of painkillers for a few days, but she returns to normal relatively pain-free levels after that time], that's when it'll be time. Or, of course, if she seems to lose heart in the world.
But, as SR pointed out, better a few months too soon than a week too late.

I'm hoping that 50% thing means I have many years left with her...but you never know. Anything can happen tomorrow.

This is the worst part of loving an older horse!
    08-01-2013, 06:35 PM
I have never had to put a horse down. I have never had to deal with a senior horse. Up until last winter he has always been the best looking one out in the pasture.

As for my opinion to the OP, its hard to watch them suffer but I feel its best to let them go BEFORE they get to the point where they lay down and fight to get back up. Problem is distinguishing when its time. Its a hard call but when they start struggling and walking around everyday in a lot of pain. Its better to let them go.

I have a (suspose to be) friend with a now 14yo horse with upper and lower ringbone. He was diagnosed 3.5 years ago and has been dead lame 4 months prior to diagnosis. No treatments have worked. Sadly, the other day she sold him with diagnosis undisclosed. He should have been put down 3-4 months after being diagnosed.
    08-01-2013, 07:24 PM
Green Broke
Better a week too early, than a day too late.
Good luck!
    08-01-2013, 07:29 PM
I had to put down an old mare because he broke her leg in 5 places. That was extremely upsetting, but there was no other decision to make, it in that respect it was easy.

I have a 30 + year old pony that took great care of my kids when they were little. It is getting really hard to keep weight on him. He is not lame, but he is slow. He eats, but he is too thin. He is at that stage that makes it hard to let go.
    08-01-2013, 07:33 PM
As thoughtful of an owner as you seem to be, I feel sure you will make a good choice. So much great advice and perspective offered here. Just to add, once you do decide, based on what is right by YOUR reckoning, don't look back and second guess that decision. It's not as if putting her down a month or too earlier is "killing" her. She was on her way out anyway, so you can not change that by making the decision to euthanize a month or two later than sooner.
    08-01-2013, 09:18 PM
I agree with Sharpie. I want my animals' last days to be wonderful ones, so if she's relatively happy now but definitely not healthy and getting worse, I would want to let her go even though it would break my heart.

That said, you clearly love your mare, so I think you should trust yourself. If you decide to hold on, I'm sure you will make the rest of her life great.

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