Retiring a horse early - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 18 Old 08-12-2019, 01:32 PM
Green Broke
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If she can't carry a rider occasionally without pain, she certainly will suffer being mounted by a stallion and carrying a foal around for nearly a year. Plus horses that have to be retired from even light riding for chronic unsoundness at her age are not something I would consider as quality breeding stock.

Figure out what exactly is going on with her, and then go from there. If it's fixable, fix it. If it's not, either let her live out her life on your place, or put her down.
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post #12 of 18 Old 08-12-2019, 01:51 PM
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I've been considering early retirement on one of my guys. It's been a very hard thing as he is also young (12) and is very well trained, but I fear re-injury If he does heal up enough to ride. I'll be keeping him with me though, whichever decision I make. He is obviously missing riding already, but he is happy enough in the field too.

I agree that rehoming your horse as a breeding mare would not be a good situation for a horse who already has back and hip issues. However, I'd actually skip the chiropractor right now, as you have been using them for a while and have not had anything solved. Like another mentioned, I'd put this money towards diagnoses instead. Chiro is a great addition for maintenance, as It helps get the horse moving properly again. However, chiro is temporary and will not help fix the causal factor that triggers the pain/soreness that causes improper movement. Also, depending on the issue, chiro may actually be a negative thing. This is the reason human chiropractors often request x-rays or MRI before working on a client.

Today is a good example of this since she got worse again and didn't even want to walk around. It's very obvious she's stiff and sore in her back left leg especially right now so I'm not even doing more than simply walking her out to some fresh grass to graze until a chiro comes back out. I just don't think it's fair to expect her to work when she's often sore and not enjoying it.
This caught my attention. Has your vet ever ultra sounded her hind legs or checked ligaments? Ligament injury came to mind because It can go unnoticed for a long time with no obvious gait abnormalities or swelling. It can, however, create stiffness and inflammation in other areas of the body due to compensation, just like any other long term injury. As a result, many vets have a difficult time diagnosing more subtle ligament injuries and often, It can take a specialist to uncover them.
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Last edited by Jolly101; 08-12-2019 at 01:58 PM.
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post #13 of 18 Old 08-12-2019, 08:52 PM
Green Broke
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Originally Posted by Jolly101 View Post
...Has your vet ever ultra sounded her hind legs or checked ligaments? Ligament injury came to mind because It can go unnoticed for a long time with no obvious gait abnormalities or swelling. It can, however, create stiffness and inflammation in other areas of the body due to compensation, just like any other long term injury. As a result, many vets have a difficult time diagnosing more subtle ligament injuries and often, It can take a specialist to uncover them.
A friend's mare seemed to have back issues that would temporarily go away with chiropractic work. After a couple of years of this her leg finally started swelling up and eventually they discovered the entire issue revolved around a leg tendon. She is around the age of your horse, and had to have a year off work, but now that they have given it time to heal they are beginning rehab and she is expected to be sound again.
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post #14 of 18 Old 08-12-2019, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
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So the vet came by and floated her teeth which really needed to be done and got them to do a general health check. Overall, my girl is in good health. However, a soundness exam is a totally different thing apparently that takes 2 hours and has to be booked in advance. So that's something that'll have to be done another day since it couldn't be done today. But at least I know general health wise, my girl is good.

As for the guy, it was more that he got me to thinking about what kind of life I'd want for her if she did retire early. Breeding her isn't something that I'd really want or go for, it was just something he said.
And from what I have experienced with my girl is that she stays fairly in shape between chiro visits if not ridden. In fact, her body was almost 100% fixed and she wasn't ever relapsing. It's only since she's been brought back into work that she relapsed and is getting sore much quicker again. So I think if she were to be fixed up another time or two and just left in a field, she'd be fine and life pain free.

Either way, it's still in the thinking stage. I may try another few lessons with her once she's better again to see how she does and get the opinions of my instructor as well since she'll see how she does in person herself as well, plus try to schedule a soundness exam but my vet is always over book so appointments often have to made for 1 or 2 months down the road.
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post #15 of 18 Old 08-21-2019, 02:47 PM
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Glad you have had the vet out and are looking at a lameness exam. I hope you find whatever is causing her soreness quickly. Lameness exams can definitely take a while and If available, I'd encourage you to work or consult with a lameness specialist, as their experience can be invaluable when trying to pinpoint subtle lameness issues. I think I spent almost 2x more trying to diagnose my horse with regular vets, before I had the specialist out to find the real issue. I'd also keep record of this horse's chiro treatments and anything beneficial you can note about her behavior undersaddle and in general to help the vet.

The pattern you are experiencing with your horse under saddle suggests that something is wrong and has been persisting as an issue. This, you've already known and have seen a pattern with. As it appears, rest seems to either alleviate the issue or help heal it before riding somehow aggravates it again. What is causing that issue or preventing that issue from healing will take some investigative work. Specifically while riding these factors come to mind: recent saddle fit(which you have already checked), arena footing (too soft, too hard, uneven), weight applied to injured area (circles, arena figures, addition of saddle and rider, etc) and increased flexion. Quite a few horses can be sound on turnout, but show soreness or lameness when on a riding schedule.

Retiring certainly isn't a bad idea if It comes down to it, but retiring as a broodmare may not be ideal for your mare at this time. The extra weight of a foal could exacerbate the issue further, where the primary issue hasn't been found yet. Hopefully, your vet will be able to quickly find the issue for you so that you can start the recovery process.
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post #16 of 18 Old 08-21-2019, 04:39 PM
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I have seen what happens to early, retired mares that go off to be a broodmare for a few years. This was about 25 years ago and about 3 miles away from me. A TB mare, I don't know what her unsoundness issue was, but she was used by a ranch and had several foals. Then the ranch gave her away because she didn't catch any more upon breeding. They gave her to a lady I work with. She didn't intend to ride her she just wanted her to be in the pasture and keep the grass down. At work, she told me the horse was losing weight and I told her to call the vet, her teeth probably needed to be done and she probably needed to be wormed. She called the vet and they told her there was nothing left to float she was down to dentine and she was about 28 years old. The vet also told her to feed beet pulp and soaked cubes. I told her she probably should have had the vet put her down, she said no I can nurse her back to health. The horse died a rack of bones in the field when the first snowfall came. You want to hear more stories about retiring a less than sound horse? If I can't retire my horse, it gets put down, period.

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post #17 of 18 Old 08-21-2019, 08:19 PM
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Lots of good info here, so I'll keep this brief. I hope you're able to find a good solution for your girl! We retired our old TB at age 18 after a nearly catastrophic leg injury. He isn't able to be ridden anymore, but he's a good companion for our other horses and more than earned his retirement. We are fortunate enough to be able to keep him at home. If this ever changes, we'll cross that bridge when we get there. Good luck with your pony.
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post #18 of 18 Old 08-29-2019, 09:29 PM
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I don't think there's any shame in retiring a horse that doesn't seem to enjoy work and has physical issues that make it harder and possibly painful for them. I retired a mare at 17 due to heaves. There was a possibility that she could be lightly ridden, but I felt that she had earned her retirement.

However, I would personally really be leery of any "retirement homes" offered. I hate to be cynical, but I've known of too many horror stories of people promising retirement homes for horses only to auction them and for the horses to end up in a kill pen. There was a vet student going around doing this with several horses last year, her case is very famous and several of the owners were heartbroken. Unfortunately, there aren't many true retirement homes for horses, as they're expensive to maintain and most people are not willing to spend money taking care of and keeping a horse comfortable that they cannot use. Especially if that horse requires maintenance just to stay comfortable, the vast majority of people are either unable or unwilling to do that for a horse they have no emotional history with. There are so many horses that can't find homes as it is, and very few willing to take in an unusable horse. Also, kill buyers and horse traders are known to fabricate stories in order to get free and cheap horses.

It also doesn't sound as if she would be a good candidate for breeding due to her issues, unfortunately.

I don't think you would be wrong to consider euthanizing her if she will require maintenance just to stay pasture sound or if you cannot keep her. It is your call, but it would be much better than letting her go on to an uncertain fate with a stranger who may not be honest about their intentions, where she could end up in a bad way.

Last edited by starbuster; 08-29-2019 at 09:38 PM.
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mare , retirement , sore , stiff

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