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My Arabian, Captain, is 34 years old and we have been together for 29 of those years. At the age of 31, he was diagnosed with Cushings Disease - Equine Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID). He has always been an easy keeper so it was a shock when I was given the news from his doctor.
The medication has been working well and he gets his daily pill.
Last year, July 2018, he had a mild seizure from which he recovered from. I have continued to ride him and he has done well. Oh, he does seem to shuffle his feet and trip at times, but we still get through it. Well, today he had another seizure and that's when I realized how terribly helpless I feel. As we know, the tumor continues to grow even though the symptoms are masked.
As I stood there and watched him go back out to pasture, I became overwhelmed because I could not do anything to help him get better and knew this disease will get the best of him. As with all my friends who love horses, Captain is part of my family and I don't want him to suffer.
If there are any folks that have gone through the process of deciding when it is enough, I would appreciate any advice or recommendations that may be passed along.
 

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Hi Pamysue,

Firstly, I moved your post to the Health section as it's more relevant than the Nutrition section & more people are likely to see it there.

I'm sorry to hear, but great to hear you're ready to put his welfare - or lack of - first even though it's so hard to let go. Many here know how you're feeling, from first hand experience. I've been through this a number of times. The first time was my first horse, nearly as old as yours, and the second time was my donkey I'd had since I was 5yo. They were the hardest, but it never got all that much easier - my animals are my family.

If he is having seizures because the tumor is pushing on nerves or such, that could be potentially painful at other times too, but I'm not sure - I'd speak to professionals exp'd with PPID. There's the ECIRhorse.com website...

Aside from the possibility of seizures, I would think carefully before riding him. Shuffling feet & tripping is a likely sign of pain. Cushings also often goes hand in hand(but not always) with laminitis too.
 

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Sorry you're going through this. I think that you are the only one who can make the decision.

I will say that my neighbor had an older horse with Cushings. He looked great sometimes, but had cycles when it seemed he was really going downhill. Then he would get better again. She thought about euthanasia every fall, wondering if she should put him through another winter. It went on like that for years. Eventually, he went down and wouldn't get up again, so they just euthanized him.

I'd say expect some bad days, but you may not necessarily see a steady decline, but rather some ups and downs. When the downs are more frequent than the good days, maybe it's time. The odd bad day is bound to happen though, and it doesn't mean it's the end. That said, you should prepare yourself for the inevitable especially given his age.

Horses live in the moment. When he has a good day, live in the moment along with him. Enjoy the time you have.
 

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:hug: this is such a difficult time for both of you. Deciding when a horse must be pts is never easy.

If you can take your emotions out of the picture, and focus just on your dear horse and what is best for him, the decision might become easier.

Often owners find it easier to plan a day in the future, one month or in fall or sometime that has meaning to them. Then the days in between can be planned out.

One thing I always like to have is a picture of me on the horse before I put them down. We don't actually ride anywhere, I just take one last picture of us together.

Some take a lock of hair from mane or tail, but I have never done that.

IMO, if the horse is stumbling and tripping, it is not safe for either of you to continue to ride him. 34 yrs is a long time, similar to a 90 yr old grandma carrying her 10 yr old grandson around.


It is hard to see the suffering of an animal, as they typically hide their pain as much as they can. Don't let him suffer too long.
 
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