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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~


6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~
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Sunday, August 28, 2011

No progress.

Worsening as of today.








If you still can't see a lameness, then use this video to learn what it looks like in the hind end. You can also see at the end where she struggles to turn around.


I'm about 50-50 on the fence about this. 50% of me says I should make some radical changes and try new options and give it one last go, and the other 50% of me says it's not worth it to anyone or fair to try. Either way I'm going to have to make a decision soon as to what I want to do. I'm running out of time.


EDITED TO ADD: My plan is essentially this....
Immediate short term: Stall her, bute, handwalk, coldhose and wrap (all things I promised her I'd never force her to go through again) until I can stabilize this
Long term: Move her to a different facility with a flat dry lot and solo turnout where she can be strictly dieted and coldhosed/wrapped until this stabilizes. Then hopefully get her to lose some weight, try some herbs/homeopathy/e-stim/whatever.
Basically the same thing all over again, forever. Something needs to change RIGHT NOW or she will blow the limb completely. She gets worse every day out in that field and I need to intervene.

Basically... is it more ethical to let her be happy and limping on a worsening limb letting her be a horse, or be miserable and confined and alone for the sake of her leg... with a pretty grim prognosis either way?

Or, I could euthanize.


22 comments:

Chelsea said...

I would do something else, the leg looks way worse. I do think you need to take some drastic steps to get weight off that is not helping her at all. Id go for a vet visit myself and I am a "do it myself" type. Thats just not good on a whole lot of fronts. I know you know her and her legs well but, there has to be a change in plan.

Bif said...

Financially speaking, if you plan to have Gogo forever, whether she is ridable or a pasture puff, then I say turn her out for 2 years with NO riding and no forced movement (aka lunging) and work on your career to have the finances to afford a second horse. As the years go by, she'll maybe be sound to ride again, maybe she won't, but you'll have saved money, and I think you said she seems pretty happy out in the field despite her current level of discomfort.

You can go the rehab route again, which will probably cost you a chunk and you have maybe a 40% chance of having a sound horse at the end? Money that you could spend advancing your career or on a second horse. And maybe still ending up with "just" a pasture puff Gogo, anyway.

If she does return to riding soundness, you'll have to take it so slow you'll probably go crazy. You've mentioned giving her a year of turnout (starting in November, I believe). You haven't yet hit a year and you still have her on the lunge to monitor and considering riding to keep her weight off. If she does come sound after the ground parts of rehab, are you willing to walk for 6 months, to really build the tendon and ligament strength? If she then injures herself again in the field, will you just want to lay down and die? Horses love to drive us mad.

The real question is, which "what if?" will bother you more.

As always, I wish for the best outcome for you and Gogo. You've taken good care of her. Don't beat yourself up for mistakes or shortcomings; you did the best you knew at the time, and of course hindsight is 20/20. It is often a little distorted, though. ;-)

Abby said...

I agree with Chelsea, go see a new vet and get her to lose some weight ASAP. When we had several ponies that were in severe danger of foundering, they got 2 flakes a day. One flake in the AM, one in the PM. They were kept in a medium sized dry lot with stalls that they could walk in and out of. Within a few weeks, they were at a healthy weight and got to go back in the pasture with free choice hay. Maybe something like this could work for Gogo? That last picture of her leg just makes me say 'Ouch' and cringe. Something needs to been done soon! I am sorry that you have to go through this, Andrea. I can't even imagine the stress and pain that you are experiencing right now. I know you will make the right decisions that are the best and most fair to Gogo. Good luck!

Hugs from Dallas,
Abby

Andrea said...

Bif, for this acute injury where movement appears to be hurting her, do you suggest putting her in a restricted movement area or just leave her alone out in turnout? I only lunge because I can monitor her worsening progress. She is only lunged for about 30 seconds to 1 minute - just enough for me to see if she is getting worse or not.

Shannon said...

The next to last picture makes her foot balance side to side look kind of off. Would that be lateral balance? Just wondering because I recently had x-rays done of my horse, and a consult with a specialist farrier, because I was concerned about his angles. Maybe it's just the picture though...

Andrea said...

Good question Shannon. Yes that would be lateral balance that you are speaking of. I think in this case it's a bad angle for a picture. Hind hooves tend to have slightly different pillars of support per se - one at each heel buttress and one more medial to the tip of the toe, which can give them this appearance: http://www.right2remainshoeless.com/assets/images/autogen/a_wild_rear_hooves.jpg. Gogo does do this with both hinds, though less than the picture of the wild hooves shows. Modern farriery is such a static thing - it focuses only on the hoof in front of the farrier in an unloaded state on flat ground, not on how the limb moves over terraina and in different footings. A perfectly symmetrical hoof cut to be that way is biomechanically wrong in a lot of sitations. Take the powerhouse of a hind hoof - the limb is brought forward and underneath the center of the horse's balance, where it then loads flat and uses this thrust to push back against the ground to propel the horse. Hind hooves are often shaped a bit like this because that is how they balance when they are used. The way the hoof is forged and the way it uses itself biomechanically is the important thing - that it loads properly and straight, not one side before the other. She loads straight - so I don't worry too much about it.

That being said, I have seen a lot of negative changes in her feet since she has been on turnout (grass, fatness, lameness - etc).

Barbara said...

I agree with Chelsea about getting some feedback from a different vet, get some weight off of her fast.
Because it is suddenly getting worse I think I would confine her short term and see if it stabilizes or even improves. I understand that you are really against a long term confinement again for her, but a short term emergency try couldn't hurt at this point. If you can stabilize it then maybe a change of environment would be worth trying.
I am so sorry that this is happening.

Jenny said...

Wow... the leg & lameness definitely looks worse.
Losing weight is going to be gradual... and is easier said than done when it comes to easy-keepers.
I think your best route is to put her in a pen where she can move around but not as much as in a pasture full of horses, bute her, cold-hose her... and see if the swelling in the leg goes down at all.
It may be detrimental to constrict her movement all together.
Wishing for the best!!!

Val said...

I am wondering why she is worse now, after being on turnout for many months at your previous home and showing improvement. Is she running/dancing around with other horses? Maybe she was quieter when she had a buffet of grass. The extra weight could be the difference, but I would expect that to be more of a burden on her front legs.

Is there a paddock where she can be turned out with a calm, slow buddy?

Andrea said...

It's because she acutely reinjured. :/
She never really showed improvement at my house. She merely existed and got fatter.

Amy said...

If it were me and my horse, which it is not but is the only perspective I can give. Though I am in a completely different situation than you. married have small children. But similar in the sense that I do not have a bunch of money to spend on my horse.

If Steady kept reinjuring himself and was over weight(though that would never happen, cause he is such a stinking hard keeper) I would first have him checked by the best leg vet I could find. Then upon diagnosis would make my decision. I would not or could not put endless amounts of money into rehab nor do even have that much extra time to devote to nursing a horse. He is similar to gogo in the fact that stalling makes him nuts and I would not do it. I would put him in a 1 acre dry lot and leave him be for indefinitely. I know with him he needs a laid back buddy and they pretty much stay calm. And there he would stay until something changed. If he got extremely uncomfortable and couldn't even be happy out on pasture then he would be euthanized. I personally have my horses at my house but if I didn't I would find the cheapest board that had a small dry lot and let him be. And I would do anything I had to, to find that perfect place for him. Good luck. I can see how hard this is on you because she means so much to you.

regentlion said...

Where is she with annular ligament involvement? I had a gelding as a kid that damaged the underlying structures and then the annular ligament became damaged as well. He was able to recover without surgery but I don't know quite what his rehab routine was because we sold him while still injured (to somone who *really* wanted him even w/his lameness).

Would you consider surgery? IIRC the idea was that the annular ligament kept damaging the underlying tendons and their swelling kept damaging the annular ligament.

I don't envy you and your position. :-( And too bad you dont like OTTBS! I have a lovely OTTB mare who would really benefit from some good trimming hoof care and consistent work. (She's not crazy. Just no self confidence!) Too bad you don't live closer or you'd definitely have a client.

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Wow. Ok, the pictures, yes, are scary and it's not what you want to see. However, coming from a girl who sees her horse gimping way worse than her at the trot, I thought she looked pretty good with that sort of injury. That being said, I'm sure a lot of people disagree with my treatment for my horse but whatevs.
2ndly-as you pointed out a while ago, she's gained weight and you have seen some negative changes in her feet. SO...I think a dry lot option is great, and it will take time for her to loose weight slowly, but keeping her out of stall will keep her happiest (as your gut is telling you) and then at that point, you have tried everything. That is, if you have the time/money to try the dry lot/care as an option. Only YOU know the best choice for her and there is no doubt it's close to impossible to make it now when you are probably feeling so down and burnt out. My advice to you, as a fellow die hard rehabber; give yourself some time to think about your choices. She is NOT so bad, that you need to choose euthanasia immediately. You have time to figure this all out. xo

Bif said...

Like Amy said, I think trying to find a smallish drylot is the way to go, as cheap as you can find that is still providing good care, obviously. A companion to keep her happy but doesn't really encourage her to runs fence, pivots, etc is ideal... like a miniature donkey or two :D

As for turnout, if she runs a lot with the others and seems uncomfortable, I would limit her space or her company ;-) If they mostly mosey and only gallop a few minutes once a day in a non-crazy fashion, it would probably be OK.

Look at it as you would a feral horse. If she can keep up with the herd, ideally the injury will "eventually" heal to allow the amount of exertion she is stressing it with. It will be ugly scar tissue, but it will heal for getting around.

On the other hand, some horses will destroy themselves keeping up with the herd, and then the wolves get them. So the balance is enough turnout that the injury heals "tough", but not to the point where the horse destroys itself. You want the horse to choose the amount of stress it is putting on itself (this may not work for TBs, heavily TB WBs, and other "hot bloods"). If you eliminate separation anxiety as much as possible, since that is when they really turn, turn, turn and tear themselves up, they are 100% in control of how hard they work the injury. Nobody does anything with miniature donkeys, so no separation ;D

Bif is on an acre 24/7 with a quiet mare, a few hours a day on the grassier 4-acres-with-some-slope pasture. He doesn't run as much as he did when I boarded him at the other barn, out in the gelding field. This is good, in that he seems to stay sounder and more comfortable, bad in that harder to keep him lean, even though there was A LOT of grass where he was. When he would run around, he looked fine at the time, but walked in very slow in the AM. His meniscus is fraying on both sides from his poor cartilage :( That doesn't really heal itself all that well, you know?

So I'm in the position, too, of a pasture puff until uncomfortable enough to warrant euthanasia. I really, really feel your pain. The fact that his joint was degenerating for a few years before I bought him reassures me that it is not my fault that I only get the broken horses... but I admit to be a little terrified of buying another when Bif is gone, because with my luck, I'll get to ride it for 3 months and it'll get kicked in the field then I'll be stuck with another 20 year pasture puff.

The only way around that is enough money to afford your pasture puffs. Obviously one tries to make sure they are not making the problems, we don't want to just go through strings of horses and not realize the issue, but you and I know that isn't what's going on here. It's mainly plain bad luck.

Crappy owners gallop their 20 month-olds down blacktop and through the worst mud and bogs and the horses are fine. Sometimes they cripple them, but not as often as you'd think. Those of us who take awesome care of our animals may be lucky, or may end up with a pasture injury after only a few months or years. It's a crapshoot.

Horses are horses, and large, sport bred horses are more inclined to have issues than native ponies, ya know?

On the fat issue, I know I was able to knock 70-100 pounds off Bif pretty quickly when he was on stall rest after his surgery. He was in a 12x24 sectioned off area of the run-in, with two small flakes of his good hay a day and as much of the last year's first cutting grass hay as he wanted. He always had something to eat, clean but otherwise crap, and it helped bring off the weight. He was of course on a vitamin replacement. Oh, and Hilton's "Rest Easy Gold". "Poppy's will make them sleep!"

Cat in Virginia said...

ArgH!!! Just wrote a small novel of a comment, and lost it. Grrr. This jist was:
- I vote for confinement to address the current active inflammation and degeneration. If you can't get the swelling and lameness under control even with stall rest, hosing and bute, then you've got your answer. If she stablizes again, then you can begin agonizing....joking! And I can joke b/c I'm in the same boat with my mare, and have been agonizing just as much if not more.
- second, I wanted to throw out the devil's advocate argument about euthanasia. You've been talking about rescuing a mustang, or bringing up a young horse or working with something that has issues (another form of rescue). Is it wrong to euthanize a horse that isn't pasture sound to make space for a healthy horse in need of a home & job? I haven't decided one way or the other myself. It seems to be whenever a dog is euthanized for food aggression or just because it's a pitbull, that sort of rationale is in effect. And there is an excess of equines just like dogs...if anything, horses are in more trouble b/c of the financial climate. Or is this just an emotional excuse to justify getting rid (albeit humanely) of a useless horse? I wish I had answers and not more questions!

Hannah said...

Wild-ass idea here, but has any bloodwork been done to make sure there's not something metabolic contributing to the weight gain? I know she's an easy keeper to begin with, but she's such a chub even considering that she hasn't been doing much...figured I'd toss it out there on the off-chance that it hasn't already been investigated.

Kate said...

I vote give healing one more go. If you at least stabilize the leg so that she's sound enough to live out the rest of her days in happiness, it's short term pain for long term gain. For her at least... maybe not so much for you, but she'll be happy. Hopefully. Best of luck!

*M said...

Ideally...small drylot with nice footing, a comfy shelter and a good retired friend on the other side.

Make hoochie mama lose some weight. :) Maybe she can send it to me, I freaking need to gain some according to my doc.

Stabilize, stabilize, stabilize, and let her be your darling puff ball. Made a similar decision years ago with my old TB mare...thinking about making it now with my coming close to 20 Holst mare too.

Find a situation where you can have two, and get yourself a riding pony. Think about a lease, or putting time on an adoption/rescue horse to give you some flexibility. You are a good enough rider to do that!

Shannon said...

Thanks for the foot explanation. That makes it easier to understand what my farrier was told to do, to move the outer "pillar of support" over some...to widen/shift the base toward the outside a bit to bring things in line.
Confinement or rehab is the absolute worst, but at this point it almost seems like you have no choice.

achieve1dream said...

Poor baby. I agree the weight is making things way worse. I think at this point even a stall or round pen would be better for her right now . . . I know she won't be happy, but we can't always be happy. I'm sorry things are worse. I really hope confining her for a bit will stabilize things. My gut keeps saying metabolic too . . . Her feet look weird at the top where they are growing out.

Andrea said...

It's her periople, not ucky hoof wall growth :) It's just exceptionally dry and crusty here in TX - I'm seeing this on basically every dried out foot that I come across.

achieve1dream said...

Ahh good to know. Thanks for explaining.