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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
hi all,
I bought Natora, my beautiful grey thoroughbred at 7 years old when I was 12.

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It was a love at first sight kind of relationship. I purchased her from a women who had rescued Natora from a neglectful owner prior to being a racehorse so safe to say, she didn’t have the best track record with people. She would rear at nearly everyone who went to retrieve her from her pasture and continue showing them attitude until she was back in her field. However, she was never like that with me <3

at the time I had no knowledge about the common occurrence of melanomas in greys. Unfortunately, I learned through first hand experience alongside my baby girl, Natora. I noticed them start to come up around her anus in 2015. At the time they were hard, black masses as shown below.

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I had my vet come out and this is when I found out that this horrible occurrence is common yet not fully understood and not easily treatable. Available treatments to me in southern Ontario were limited to surgery (where growths could come back post- op) or an experimental treatment using a dog vaccine which would involve Natora having to stay at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph where they study these types of things. The vet mentioned a drug called cimetidine that has been used in study to reduce the growth rate of the masses and is relatively affordable. Only after speaking with internal medicine at vet college to find out that this treatment is no longer available due to unfavourable results over the past few years. Any treatment offered, although not guaranteed to work, cost A LOT of money. Natora was an extremely anxious horse who hated being away from her field mates and the farm itself so I knew treatment away from home was not really feasible for her. and this broke my heart to pieces. I am no millionaire and as a teenager at the time, I was informed from the vet not to worry and continue monitor.

And so I did. I visited Natora at least twice per week, rode regularly and although the melanomas were growing slightly bigger and spreading down her tail, Natora appeared to be content. I didn’t notice any changes in mood or behaviour that would lead me to suspect any pain. She was always a little bit sassy, hated grooming but loved being ridden, preferred galloping and eating grass free range on the farm. She always moaned while urinating or defecating. The vet did inform me that inevitably cancer spreads and dreadfully in this case it could spread internally and affect these abilities so I was careful to monitor her voiding closely over the years. Natora appeared comfortable. She was turned out with a couple other boarder’s horses who she got along with perfectly and everything seemed to be going fine, as usual..

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Lola, Natora & Jackson

the thought that Natora’s cancer was progressing and I couldn’t do anything about it made me feel absolutely horrible, useless.

tragically, in Aug of 2019 when I visited Natora, I found the melanomas around her anus had burst open and she now had open wounds where the melanomas were.

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it was clear that she was itchy as her tail was starting to rub off but still no other signs of pain. I was absolutely devastated. I felt pain for her and I couldn’t fathom the thought of being in her position and not knowing what is going on inside her body/ what is slowly killing her.

I called the owner of the farm who’s like a second mom to me and she right away said the last two words any animal owner wants to hear “it’s time.” She informed me she had witnessed disturbing anal wounds becoming infested with maggots and she could not bare the thought of coping with such.

I called my vet right away and asked what my options were... they told me I could clean the wounds and monitor Natora for signs of infection but there was really not more to be done... </3

I arranged a date a week later and spent the week by her side, caring for her wounds and feeding her as many carrots as she pleased. A week later at 21 yr old, on Aug. 9 2019, my Natora went up to horsey heaven.

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its been a long time and I still feel as horrible and guilty as I did when it happened. Could I have done more? Should I have done something different? These questions are constantly floating through my thoughts...

I miss her every single day and I hope in my heart she found peace and that I will one day too.

until we meet on Rainbow bridge baby girl ❤🧡💛💚💙💜 love you to the moon and back ❤🧡💛💚💙💜

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I'm so sorry for your loss. Cancer is a miserable disease in all its forms. I have lost more then one animal to cancer and second guessing yourself is completely normal. I wish I could have done more...

The problem with cancer is that most of the time, it is incurable. You might buy a few extra weeks or months with treatment, but it almost always comes back, and the medication stops working. That is why it is incurable. You might slow it down, but you can't stop it. And it breaks your heart every time.
 

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I recently put a beloved dog down for bone cancer. Or my vet did. I have had the same feelings but then I wake up and remember a 1st cousin that died from bone cancer. There was nothing that could be done for him. He suffered horribly for a long time.

At the story, my vet commented that we are often kinder to our animals than we are to humans. You did the kindest thing you could have done for your horse. Just believe that and dwell on it when the guilt starts coming. Which of course it will. But it'll slowly sink in.

I still go sit by my dog's grave.
 

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I am sorry for your loss - she was a huge part of your life so natural that you would miss her so much. It sounds like she had a high quality of life even with the progression of the cancer, and by making a timely decision you spared her a lot of pain. It’s natural to look back and wonder, what if, but those around you who cared for you and your horse (barn owner and vet) agreed it was the right time.
 

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As a tribute to your beloved horse, never remember her with guilt. She deserves to be remembered with love and celebrated what a great horse she was. I lost a horse last year, whenever I think of him, I smile and maybe a tear because I miss his face, his smell, all of him, but I love remembering him. He was so awesome.
 

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So sorry for your loss. You shouldn't feel guilty she was not well. My horse went a couple of weeks ago as well and even through he wasn't really a part of my life anymore it was not easy.
 

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Unfortunately, 80% of all grey horses get melanomas. No breed is spared from this. My daughters first real horse was a gorgeous grey FoxTrotter. She started out with no melanomas and then got a few - we tried everything that we found on-line and the vets recommended. Ultimately, we had to put her down to liver failure and still are not sure that she did not have internal melanomas that may have caused this. They are so hard to fight and there is still no real cure. We had some moderate success at first with some of the treatments but none actually ever made them fully go away. Our mare never had any so large they burst but so many do. You did the right thing helping her out instead of letting her suffer. There is nothing more beautiful than a grey horse - but I often wonder why people still breed greys knowing the high chance of having this type of cancer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Thank you everybody for the kind words and for sharing your stories. I haven’t talked about it much which is maybe why I feel so weighed down by it. I’m thankful I found this forum it was definitely a good place to open up.. all of your comments really do mean a lot so really, thank you! ❤
I send my deepest condolences to the ones we’ve lost & appreciation to the wonderful friends, family & owners who did their best! 🙏🏼
 

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She was very loved and had a good life. I believe you did everything you could have and should have done for her and gave her joy and happiness, and prevented her from suffering at the end. Everybody should be blessed with a friend who would do the same for them!
 
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