Horse health and $$$ - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 03-27-2020, 11:23 AM Thread Starter
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Horse health and $$$

This is something I've been thinking about recently, but @ApuetsoT 's post made me decide to bring it up.

I have three horses. Pony has, overall, been really healthy. He pulled up lame a few months ago, which turned out to be saddle fit. Time (no cost) and couple of vet visits ($$ - $$$) cleared that up. Then I noticed he was counterbent at the canter in one direction. I got the bodyworker out ($$$); she's done a couple of sessions and thinks that it will just take a couple more to get him straightened out (literally, haha).

Moonshine had a stifle injury that, once diagnosed, we've been able to treat ($$$ every six months). Before the diagnosis, I had the bodyworker out at least half a dozen times, at $$$ per visit, to work on it. Once we got her stifle injected, I had the bodyworker out a couple more times ($$$ per visit), and the issue seems to be resolved, with the semi-annual $$$ injections.

I finally got Teddy's teeth all finished ($$$$) and now he has some sort of physical issue that has been looked at by the vet ($$$) and the bodyworker ($$$) without any real resolution. I'm currently at a loss for what to do about it, but the vet said that increasing his joint supplement might help, so I'm going to spend $$ for a month's worth of extra-strength supps to see if that helps.

The point of all of this is, I feel like there are people out there who have really healthy horses that seem to never need any work done. Or maybe those people do have those problems, but they just don't talk about it? Or maybe these people don't realize the horse is having problems, so they never do anything about it? Or are my horses particularly unhealthy? None of them does anything more strenuous than cantering the occasional 20-meter circles, or going over X poles that are low enough they can just be trotted over. Am I just unlucky, or am I more observant? Am I wrong that there are horses out there that don't need money spent on their health? Am I dumb for spending this much money on my horses? Am I a horse health hypochondriac?

My gut feeling is that I'm probably doing the right thing by paying attention to them and treating anything I think even could be an issue. The barn owner has a lot of horses, and she basically expects them to get by with nothing but routine health care and not-quite-frequent-enough farrier work. But, almost all of her horses have on-and-off soundness issues. Maybe these could have been avoided if she had spent more money on their care? I'm so worried about missing something that will lead to bigger problems down the road.

Sorry, this has turned out to be somewhat of a rant. I guess what I want to know is whether other people are routinely spending this much money on their horses' health care.

"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person
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post #2 of 26 Old 03-27-2020, 11:45 AM
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It seems that the answer to everything horse is - it depends.... and really it does. You have to consider the condition the horse was in when purchased. Sort of like buying a used car. You don't know who drove it, how and what kind of maintenance was done. You have to consider your intended use and amount of use along with the condition. Age and genetics are factors. Feed. How much maintaining do you (G) do and how frequently. There will be people that are quick to have someone out and those that are more the DIY as well as the lets see how it goes crowd. You can spend a fortune in upkeep or keep it to the absolute necessities. There are those that can pick the diamonds in the rough and spend next to nothing to purchase, put time and some $$ and have a real diamond when done and then there are those that spend little and don't have the experience to know whether they have jewel in the making or have inherited someone else's money pit - sometimes it pays off, other times not so much.You can also have the accident prone or those that don't do well with the change - change in ownership means for most change in location, lifestyle, feeds... and maybe they just can't cope.



At one point or another we all have our trials and tribulations, things that cost us in time, effort and $$$$. Newer horse owners tend to have more or seem to because they are asking questions and looking for answers and may be willing to sink more in to find a solution initially. It isn't that older more experienced don't it is that they don't come here for answers for many things they go elsewhere.

Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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post #3 of 26 Old 03-27-2020, 11:47 AM
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Horses are expensive, that is a fact!

Everyone has their own limits, so hard to compare.

Bodyworkers, for instance, don't exist where I live, so not used. Some things can be worked out with correct exercise, like the difference between a human going to a chiropractor or PT.

Some issues, and horses, need more. I had an appendix QH that was found to have kissing spine as diagnosed by the equine vet per xrays. He recommended injections (didn't do) and proper work over the back to increase strength (tried that). Ultimately, decided to rehome the horse as he was not progressing to the point with exercise that I felt ready to add injections.

My mare, Sassy is 25 turning 26 this August. She was ridden nearly daily by my adopted daughter until the age of 19 when we retired her (mainly because DD was into dating more than riding). She had arthritic fetlocks by that time, and I can make her more comfortable with FluidFlex for her joints. Other than that, she is very healthy. She did get kicked by a boarder horse in her udder area, so that was concerning but didn't need a vet check, just sent pictures to the vet. (years with the same vet helps in these cases)
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post #4 of 26 Old 03-27-2020, 11:54 AM
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I have had horses my entire life and used to lament to my husband that other people who don't take near as good of care of their horses as I do have better luck. But what I have found to be the most true is that those peoples horses are the ones that suffer. To the uneducated observer the horses may seem fine but when you get close and look or see them ridden they have issues. Here is a recent example. I have a friend whom I love dearly - BUT she got into horses late in life and thinks they don't need much care. I was always gently nudging her to better care. Then her old mare got cushings and heaves and she only treated when she felt like it - because it was expensive. Then they got into mounted shooting and purchased some really expensive horses - and then one of them hurt himself He was lame for a few weeks before I could convince her to get to a vet. He tore his suspensory and vet recommended stall rest. Guess what? IT was too much work and too expensive so they left him in a small lot with his companion. Banjo ran around bucking and kicking etc. 6 months later he is no better - she comes to me and I say go to a lameness expert and they had x-rays done and because of his activity he broke his sesamoid bone. The gelding is 8 and gorgeous. They paid thousands for him and he will be lame for the rest of his life. How long the keep him I don't know. And to be honest she says she is heartbroken but I am not sure if she learned her lesson.

My point is that a few hundred here and there is better than losing your horse permanently or having to spend thousands for something that was left go to long. Horses are an expensive hobby
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post #5 of 26 Old 03-27-2020, 11:54 AM
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I will say in general, as horses age they get more expensive.

My horse with kissing spine was most likely born with it, per vet. Since I didn't do a PPE, I was stuck. He went to a nice home where the owner only walks around on him. He ate a lot, and I couldn't financially justify so much feed going into him for years, when he was only 9 yrs old.

I have generally had good luck with horses in general being mostly healthy. I tend to use injections as a last resort, not something to keep an unsound horse in hard work. I'd rather retire the horse to broodmare or light riding than keep up a competitive schedule with injections and pain medications.
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post #6 of 26 Old 03-27-2020, 11:55 AM
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Yes, years with the vet is a definite plus.
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Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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post #7 of 26 Old 03-27-2020, 12:24 PM
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Having horses is never cheap!

I grew up in an era where vets were rarely called, there were no body workers, chiropractors or saddle fitters per say yet all the horses were sound and comfortable, worked six days a week for at least two hours, often four and lived to an old age.

The only time the vet came to my last work place was if something needed stitching, castrating colts, routine jabs or an obscure lameness. I would,call them out of something had a colic but, apart from one filly, when I first started working for the Boss, nothing ever got a colic whilst in my care.

Experience has told me when the vet is needed. I certainly would never call them for feed advice, chiro work or saddle fit. They are not trained in this.

I have had many horses come to me with issues, vets, body workers and chiropractors have been paid, with little to no change. Saddles changed along with a variety of different bits, yet still the horse has issues. These issues change once they are in a strong work routine, no messing around at a walk but lots of trotting and cantering (providing they are reasonably fit) diet to suit the work and temperament. Manners are insisted upon. I do not go out with a plastic bag on a stick, I start in the stable and apart form the odd lunge, that is all the ground work I do.

Any unwanted behaviour is corrected instantly, firmly but fairly. They know where they stand.

All this I have learned over the years. I am not against chiropractors and had a woman who was top notch but have seen so many that although they might have some sort of qualification, are as much good as a chocolate fire guard.

A good chiromwill straighten a horse out in one session. A follow up to check all has remained true should be all that is needed.
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post #8 of 26 Old 03-27-2020, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
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@QtrBel that's a good point about newer horse owners. Knowing what I know now, I would have had the bodyworker look at Moonshine one time, as she is AMAZING at spotting problems, then have taken that information to the vet and skipped all of the sessions that she did before the injections. She kept saying the work wasn't holding well, but it turns out the reason was Moonshine's underlying stifle problems (arthritis and severely depleted cartilage), which she was not able to address. Once we got the stifle stabilized, the body work really helped, and she only needed a few sessions.
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"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person
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post #9 of 26 Old 03-27-2020, 12:34 PM
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I think your approach is the best one. I'm not judging those who have to make hard choices for financial reasons (though if that happens on a consistent basis, people should really question whether they should still have horses). But I see a lot of people who are either oblivious or choose not to bother treating something. I just couldn't do it. I don't even want to think of what I've spent on Harley. I feel he deserves it. He's given his whole live to numerous owners (mostly young girls), bringing home ribbons and being a trustworthy mount. He will live his golden age with all the health and dignity I can buy him. I'd do the same for Kodak and Rusty - they just haven't required as much maintenance, at least not yet. Other than routine vet work and some regular body work for Kodak, they've been healthy. Though I do stay on top of things and am very preventative.

And this is why I cringe when I see people looking for "free" or cheap horses. Also why I've turned the same horses down myself from people who knew that if I adopted their horse, I'd pay the vet bills they don't want to pay. Sorry, but no, I'm not made of money and I have to save it for my own horses.

So yeah, I think you're doing a fantastic job. There's probably a teeny tiny bit of "new horse-mom" syndrome going on for both of us too though, if I'm being completely honest. But it's better to know that our knowledge is still growing, and not take chances than the other way around.
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post #10 of 26 Old 03-27-2020, 12:54 PM
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So a bodyworker and a chiropractor are not the same thing? I feel dense...we don't have any of that available, and not so sure I would use it if available.

I have always been very careful to not push a horse past what they can do. I train them gently and slowly and never ride if one is feeling off.

I think selecting a horse suitable for the intended job is the first part that many newbies get wrong. Often they are given or sold unsound horses, so are starting at a disadvantage.

Even with the half century of knowledge I have obtained, I can still miss some issues and have a horse that needs more maintenance than I would wish.

For instance, my 12 going on 13 yr old RMHA was diagnosed with cushings last year. I was not expecting that diagnosis, as that is an "old horse" disease. I was expecting a diagnosis of IR, but he doesn't have that. I have treated him as an IR horse since purchasing him at age 4. So, I prevented that, but couldn't stop the cushings from arriving...sadly there wll come a point when the cost vs his quality of life will become an issue.
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