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If my horse (bought her few months ago) has early stages of founder, would it be more humane to have her euthanized than put through the process (probably surgery, etc.)?
We are not financially secure anymore due to me losing my job (last week) to be able to handle helping her through that kind of process.
I don't want her to suffer because I lost my job, that is not fair. I, also don't want her to be in pain rest of her life either and on a bunch of medications.
 

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I'm not an expert on founder but if it's in the early stages as in just beginning then I think you need to soak the feet in epson salt and get a vet out. If you can't afford to care for the horse then putting it down is definitely an option, although I'd look into a rescue facility that may have the resources to care for and then rehome the horse.

I'm sorry you are going through hard times.
 

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I do not want to have to result to that, as I view every horse's life is precious. I wish my situation wasn't as it was, otherwise I'd put forth all the effort and money I could to help her be comfortable. I'm not knowledgable in founder department, but from what I understand once they founder even the early stages it's incredibly painful, they continue to be prone to foundering. In our pasture and the way our home is setup, she'd be setup to founder all the time :S. I do not want to euthanize her, as I've grown very very attached to her even in just the short time I've had her. I love her to death, but i refuse to let her live a life of pain and medication. Is it wrong for me to be thinking that ending her life might keep her from a life of pain and misery?
 

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So far every rescue facility that I have contacted that is near me, is full or will not take her for one reason or another.
 

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I presume you've had the vet out, since you have a diagnosis. She may very well be salvageable. Talk to your vet about options. In many cases, corrective shoeing will fix the immediate problem.

First thing to do is get her off grass and stop her from moving around. Stand her deep in cold mud or thick bedding. If she's seriously lame cut styrofoam pads for her feet.



Putting her down is a valid option, but make sure you know what you're dealing with before you resort to that. Once foundered, yes, a horse is more prone to do it again, but if you do things like limit turnout or use a grazing muzzle, you can minimize the risk.
 

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I am not aware of any surgery to repair the damage done by founder.

If a horse's coffin has not rotated; then a foundered horse can be useful for years with careful management. Many horse have repeat episodes of founder, but if it's caught early, it's still managable.

Most of founder management just requires attention, rather than money. Limit grazing severely, get a grazing muzzle, monitor legs for digital pulses and feet for heat, check the fat pad at the crest of the neck. Proper shoeing to take some pressure off the toe and lamina.

Yes, acute founder is painful, but easily relieved by inexpensive painkillers (bute and banamine), soaking, etc.

Bubba gave you excellent advice for managing an acute founder.

If the problem is the way access to pasture is set up, get a grazing muzzle. My fatties live in them every spring and fall when the grass is rich.

If your horse is otherwise useful, and you can currently afford the basic expenses, you should be able to keep going with very little additonal investment. And if she's not currently acute, reselling or rehoming her is still an option.

If she's not otherwise useful, if the founder is severe and acute, or if she has coffin bone rotation on xray, then euthanasia may an option, but I wouldn't rush to that conclusion yet.
 

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Bubba,

Interesting. But I'm imagining that's done to salvage a horse for breeding? Surely a horse can't be ridable after having both front deep digital flexor tendons cut?
 

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As an owner who has had 2 horses with varying degrees of laminits/founder, they most assuredly are salvagable if the rotation isn't too severe. My old QH had laminitis most of his life, we watched his diet very carefully and limited his grazing. Mainly, he'd have flares only once or twice a year at most, and we treated the discomfort from that with bute. We continued riding him until he let us know it was time to quit, at 30 y.o..

The 2nd horse was more severe, she was a broodmare and we sent her out to be bred one year and the breeding barn's staff made a feed error (she got no grain due to her laminitis and they fed her a warmblood's grain ration) and she had severe gas colic. Due to fearing for their jobs, they said nothing for over 12 hrs, and by the time I went to get her and take her to the vet, she was in such severe pain that she was already starting to founder. The colic was severe but remedied fairly quickly. The founder however, kept her in ICU for 10 days and we thought we'd lose her to that. Both front feet rotated, right more than left, 7 degrees for the right, I think 3 for the left. That was in 2005. She was 25 at the time. She came back from it, and with careful trimming and careful diet management, she did totally fine. She was retired from being a broodie at that point, and was just a pasture puff until last winter when she was injured in a pasture accident. Basically, she hurt her left leg to the extent that she'd have required extensive stall rest and would have stressed her right leg/foot even more so we pretty much decided it was put her down now or put her down later. At the time we put her down in Feb, her right front foot sole was so thin you could feel the coffin bone and we knew if she had another big flare, it would descend through the sole. So at 31 years, we let her go.

Neither horse was expensive to manage and except for brief flares of a couple of days, neither was in pain most of the time. Lucky passed at 32 y.o. and Fetyszka passed at 31, so both lived full lives and knew they were loved and cared for. Only you can know what is right for your horse, so if the rotation/pain is severe enough, putting her down is certainly and option. You don't say how old she is, so I can't tell you what I might consider/try in your case, nor do you say how severe the rotation is, if any.

When you say 'early stages of founder', to me that means more of a laminitis flare up than that she actually foundered. Founder itself is usually pretty dramatic. Fetyszka's rotation was not considered terribly severe yet she went down and stayed down for 8 days. When she got up she was bedded on peat moss and then sand for over a month until she showed signs of being more comfortable in her stance.

Hope some of this helps you in your decision process.
 

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Avoid high sugar feeds, such as corn, molasses, barley, oats, and any other cereal grains, but if you need to gain some weight feed rice bran or beet pulp (without molasses.) Make sure your horses diet is high in Magnesiuim, essential fatty acids, and minerals. Good luck getting through this crisis.
 

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Are you able to give us more information? Were x-rays done? Is there rotation? If so, to what degree? What options and treatment plan did the veterinarian give you?

First, get the diet under control. You've been given some good suggestions here already but mainly make sure the horse is off grass (use a dry turn-out lot or grazing muzzle) and grain. Feed hay only.

Get her comfortable. You can use hoof boots, or foam pads as Bubba suggested.

Cold horse the feet as often as you can. There are I've found online to rig up an area the horse can soak its own feet in colder water as it feels necessary. The suggested cold mud works too.

I agree and disagree with is restricting movement, once they are comfortable by using hoof boots or foam pads, you should encourage walking on soft ground (or even turn-out on a dry lot) if you restrict movement you are restricting circulation. Make sure the horse is comfortable (ie boots or foam pads) and landing heel first.

The horse may or may not need corrective shoeing, I feel it's important an owner knows all their options. There are studies being done using natural barefoot trimming (the wild horse model) to reverse rotation and treat laminitic and founder cases. There is a lot of information provided by Pete Ramey on his website and Jamie Jackson offers a wonderful book on laminitis/founder. If you can find a trimmer in your area it may be worth looking into - but not something I would recommend as a "do it yourself" job. I am a barefoot advocate but this may be something to look into if money is a concern - I find barefoot to be a lot cheaper then using shoes.

For pain and inflammation I have found white willow bark to be effective, it's natures aprin but does not have the long-term negative side effects that other drugs like bute may cause. I feed to a 1200lb QH 1tsp twice daily as recommended by our trimmer.
 

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Founder is ALL about horse management and restoring proper hoof form and boney alignment to the horse as well as minimizing wall load and allowing the foot to work as a whole unit. I have rehabbed ALOT of founder cases now, both acute and chronic, and in EVERY case so far i have been able to achieve soundness and even rideability..... usually within 3 months max for the worst of the worst, but typically within a few weeks to a month. The feet were not even completely rehabbed in all cases and yet they were still sound and rideable with boots or other alternative rehabilitative means.


We need more info however to give you any real advice as stated above. Pictures would help also.
 

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Good Lord DON'T put that horse down !!! Give us some more info. How early is it? What symptoms is the horse showing? Are you sure this is founder? How old is she? If it's founder, do you know what caused it?

I hardly ever run across a case of founder that can't be corrected and it's not that expensive.
 
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