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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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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vet Appointment and Some Bad News.

As you guys know, Gogo's lameness has continued to dramatically escalate over the past week or so. After seeing just how bad it was on Sunday, I had to step in and do something. We trailered out for an 11:00AM appointment yesterday with Dr. H, who is our regular vet and also 'the leg man' in this area - the authority on sports injury in the distal limb. I knew he'd give me a good dose of reality, if I needed it.

And I did. Remember about two weeks ago when I wrote this?:

"Gogo is, once again, pretty unsound. Not consistently, not horribly, but it's there. Going to the right on the lunge, she looks completely normal and fine... you wouldn't even know there was a problem unless you were truly looking for something, and hard. Going to the left, she has a consistent hitch in her right hind. I am grateful that whatever is going on still appears to be with the SDFT, and that this presentation of lameness has been positively associated with SDFT damage in the past, because this is a classic suspensory presentation. If she had a new suspensory injury on top of everything, I think I'd die. Thankfully, as far as I can tell it's just the same old thing, forever."

I was in denial. Remember all the recent swelling around the branches of her suspensory and underneath her fetlock? I thought it was related to the SDFT/annular ligament/tendon sheath. Denial.



We pulled her out of the trailer and Dr. H looked curiously at the fill below her fetlock. Watching her walk, I thought I could detect the beginnings of discomfort at the walk - which she's never had before. We watched her jog out. She was dead lame. We flexed the fetlock (with some difficulty, as the limb was so filled with fluid and swelling that it is becoming hard to bend). She hopped off, hardly able to even put the leg down. The leg continued to bother her even after the jog out once it had been flexed - she hard trouble turning and walking, and spent a lot of time resting it.

I've never seen her that lame before. Not even during her first injuries in 2009. She was easily a 4/5 lame.




When we ultrasounded, the old scar tissue and general mess in the SDFT and then tendon sheath was still there. Disorganized and ugly, yes, but still the same as they were. There was no new damage to those structures. I cringed, worried about what we were going to find as the real culprit for the acute lameness and swelling. And sure enough, there is was - where the suspensory makes an insertion on the long pastern bone under the fetlock, there was significant damage and degeneration.

A brand new injury, two years into this never ending rehab, and it's a severe one at that. Game over. There is no solution, therapy, rehab protocol, medicine, or anything short for a magic wand that can fix this. There is no cure at this point. The leg is experiencing systematic breakdown. It doesn't matter what we do, how much money we spend, or how much time we give it - there is no turning around after this.

She is never going to be rideable again. No, not even as a trail horse. (I asked.) Best case scenario is that the limb manages to stabilize itself through more scar tissue and thickening, and she manages to get around until something else breaks down. The vet said to breed her, but that "it will shorten her serviceable life." The suspensory will degenerate and sink like this in the healing process either way, regardless of what we do. I am NOT going to breed her as this would be irresponsible of me.

The vet's advice was this: "If you had a huge pile of money and this lame horse, at the end of a year you would have no money and this exact same lame horse." Even if I had a million dollars to pour into this horse, it would do me no good.


Best case scenario is that she manages to build up enough scar tissue to get around in a field for awhile and somehow not end up with another injury. Having watched her fall apart over the past two years - and having seen injury after injury take place even when just doing things like walking around in her field - it is nearly certain that she will reinjure again somewhere, or injure something new again, like she has just done. With all this damage to the right hind, how long until the left hind gives out? It had an injury too when this first happened, and it has areas of scar tissue as well. If the right hind continues to systematically fail, eventually the left hind will too.



It is my personal belief that it is cruel to make a horse limp around in a field until her legs give out. I don't believe that it is right or fair to make this mare stumble painfully around in a field for the next however many years (if she even makes it that long before complete breakdown) until I decide to let her go. I don't believe that that is quality of life. It is better to let one go while they are still somewhat mobile and happy instead of waiting until they are suffering and crippled when you know that that is the direction they are heading in. If there was hope for her comfort and happiness, I'd let her be a pasture puff. Maybe without this new injury, there would have been. But now the hope is so slim that it's not fair to make her hang around in limbo to wait and see if there's a chance for her comfort. It isn't right and it isn't ethical. It's cruel and I won't do that to her.


I haven't made a final decision yet as to what I am going to do. Right now, I don't need to hear stories about what other people would do if Gogo were their horse, or what their experiences were in the past with their own horses, or to not give up hope. None of those things will help me right now. Ultimately, this is my decision. I am the one who has spent every possible waking moment with this mare for the past five years, and I am the one who has watched the ups and downs of her life in person. I am the one who had made all the choices in her life, for better or for worse. It is now my responsibility and duty to make the best choice for her. I owe her so much, and she deserves her dignity. She has given very last inch of her heart for me, and I have tried my best to give everything I can to her in return. And if I cannot give her health and happiness... if there is no hope for a comfortable and mobile life for her.... then I will give her peace.


Please respect whatever ultimate decision I choose and my thought process behind all of this. We all deal with death and mortality issues differently, and we all would do different things in the same situations. This is a very tough time for me; I am sure you all know how attached and utterly devoted I am to her. I love her more than anything and I can't imagine life without her.


91 comments:

Minus Pride said...

Andrea -
I'm so, so, sorrry to hear this. I lost my Arabian gelding suddenly and had to make the decision in split seconds to put him down or let him stumble around and continue to suffer.
One thing you cannot do is wonder endlessly about what the right decisions could have been. That is the best lesson I have learned. Follow your gut, and never second guess, it will drive you not only into depression, but probably insanity as well. My thoughts are with you as you make your decision.
I've followed your blog for a year and a half now, if you need to vent, whine, etc. please feel free to email.

Mrs. Exeter said...

I've not commented before, but I've been very much enjoying reading your blog for sometime. I sympathise hugely with you at this time, and I know whatever decision you make will be the best for your horse. Very best wishes.

jenj said...

{Hugs}. That's about all I can offer, and lots of them.

Judi said...

My heart goes out to you in this tough time. I am sure whatever decision you make will be the right one, because nobody knows the situation better than you. She's a lucky horse to have you.

stupidhumantricks said...

I'm sorry to hear the news wasn't good. It's a shit sandwich from every angle. :/ Thinking about you two and sending good vibes your way!

Brittany said...

I am so very sorry you have this decision to make. My heart hurts for you, and my thoughts will be with you. I pray that you can make the decision that would be best for YOU and Gogo regardless of all the advice you will get from people.

Know that you and Gogo have a lot of people loving and thinking of you in this difficult time.

Elena said...

Andrea, I am so sorry you have to go through this. I know how much you love and care for Gogo and I know you will make the right decision and will always keep her best interests in mind. My thoughts and love are with you during this tough time.

Elena

Leah said...

That's awful news. I am sorry :(

Now That's A Trot! said...

I'm so sorry. I was hoping your next update would have some better news, and I'm sad that it didn't.

I have met a lot of horses with permanent, debilitating injuries over the past few years, including a few that were allowed to live to the point where their entire bodies warped around the injury. No creature should go through that.

If you've ever seen the heartbreaking SpecialHorses.org "This it be right" video (warning: major tearjerker), they sum it up quite well: Better when it's hard for us, than when it's hard for them.

It will always, always be hard for us -- even IF the best option is clear.

Ultimately, it is your decision. You know and love her best.

*hugs*

sweetbay said...

Andrea, I am so sorry. I know you love Gogo and will do what's best for her.

Amy B said...

SO, so sorry for both you and Gogo. :(
Whatever decision you make will be the right one - I don't think anyone who reads this blog and knows how much you love your horse, and what a responsible horsewoman you are, would think otherwise.

Lexie said...

Andrea,
i know what ever decision you make will be the best one. I know you only have her interest at heart. All I can do is say you are a very strong person, and a very good person, and i hope you can feel some comfort soon.

Leslie MacDonald said...

Oh Andrea, I'm so sorry that you and Gogo are facing this. Just wanted to reinforce what everyone else has said - whatever decision you make will be the right one. I've also faced the decision of whether or not to put down my horse, and it was terrifically difficult, but I have no doubt that what I decided was correct. We all know that you love her and whatever you decide will be right for both of you.

Hugs to you and Gogo!

Alighieri said...

I am so, so sorry. My thoughts are with you and your wild, wonderful mare.

Ambivalent Academic said...

My heart goes out to you, Andrea. This is so hard. You have always made the best decision you possibly could for Gogo, and you will certainly continue to do so.

I wish there was something more to say to make things better - words seem so inadequate. Whatever decision you make, it will be the right one and you will always have my utmost respect as a horsewoman.

Paradise Regained said...

I've not commented before but reading your blog is a daily habit. Through all I've read, it seems that you're not one to make a decision lightly or go about it without all the thought and consideration you can muster. Please know there's one Ohioan who's got your back amidst all of this. What I mean by all of this is, as long as you make sure it's your decision, it won't be a wrong one. I really respect you.

Melissa said...

*big hugs* I'm so sorry to hear it. Best wishes to you and the Go-mare.

Jill said...

No comments, just hugs. I'm so sorry. If you're ever in Ohio, I've got a dead lame retired mare you can come love on.

smazourek said...

*virtual bear hug, for a long, long time*

Lisa said...

Oh Andrea! This sucks. You and Gogo don't deserve this! I'm so sorry. :(

Gal Wednesday said...

I can't, and don't want to, imagine what you must be going through. Please know that despite those out in the world who will make comments and second guess you there are many, many more of us who know that you will do the right thing for gogo, even if it tears your heart apart. Please know that you are in our thoughts.

SprinklerBandit said...

I'm sorry. Hugs to you both.

eventer79 said...

I can't tell you anything you don't already know, but I am thinking of you and Gogo. There are no easy decisions and you certainly do not owe anyone any explanations. Lives are, to a one, perilous and always have the same ending, no matter what. It breaks a person's heart but I know you have made the most of your Gogo time. You have our sympathy and our support --

appydoesdressage said...

Andrea - I am so sorry to hear the prognosis. I know you tried your heart out and have worked to give nothing but the best to GoGo. If dignity is the last gift you can give her then I commend you for it. I know it will be an incredibly difficult decision for you but know you have my support.

Shannon said...

Wow, I'm so sorry. If it's the same Dr.H (of TAMU, formerly or currently) everyone in our area uses, at least you have the very best information available.

Young Equestrian said...

Since breeding isn't an option for Gogo, have you considered surrogacy? I have traditionally been on the anti-breeding side of things in the past, but if worse comes to worst, then it may be something to consider.

Alanna said...

I'm so sorry Andrea.

Karen said...

I just want to send my hugs and thoughts your way. I very much enjoy your blog and you have had such a hard road with your horses. It's not fair. :(

Sydney said...

I am so incredibly sorry!

My best advice is to take it as every day comes. Don't look too far into the future. Take her as she comes.
Your judgment is best for your own horse. You have given Gogo the best of your abilities and she gave you the best of hers. I know how incredibly hard it is to have to put a beloved horse/pet down. It truly is the most lonely feeling in the whole world. If shes suffering it's time for her to go. However I have seen a lot of old horses with similar injuries become "pasture sound" or close to it. They may not walk right or always incredibly sound but they are happy and healthy (other than old injuries). The horses body is an incredible thing the strongest learn to compensate for their injuries. Whatever you do it will be best.
If the time comes remember to get some of her tail hair. I am not taking orders on horse hair except for bloggers/very good friends.

Kate said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. Hugs to you and your girl from the great white north; our thoughts are with you.

Checkmark115 said...

this breaks my heart :( I ws really pulling for Gogomare...I have no words for the situation. All I can give is my XOXO and know that we support whatever decison you make. YOU know what IS best for her.

Beckz said...

Just want you to know that I'm thinking of you. Everyone who reads this blog knows you will make the right decision for Gogo. So sorry it has come to this.

Snowhawk Przhevalsky said...

I had been hoping and praying that something would improve... Even if she were to just be, as mentioned above "pasture sound."

... I'm so sorry. And you know your horse better than us so whatever decision you make will be the right one.

Renee said...

I am so sorry Andrea. :(

Val said...

*tears*
*hugs*
Nothing but love for you and Gogo.

Tricia said...

Very sorry to hear that you are at this turning point, but you are right-- it's yours with Gogo. My heart goes out to you. Big hug and lots of right-there-with-you support, Andrea.

Jenn said...

I've never commented here, though I've been following your stories with Go-Go for some time now. I just want to say...blessings on you as you face this. No judgement, no stories...just peace to you and your lovely mare.

Nicku said...

Thinking of you and your sweet girl. We're here for you and support whatever decision you make, always. Take your time and know you have a lot of people who love you guys.

*Sharon* said...

Nothing to add, but wanted to know I'm thinking of you both.

Bif said...

Oh, Andrea, I'm so sorry =(

"She has given very last inch of her heart for me, and I have tried my best to give everything I can to her in return. And if I cannot give her health and happiness... if there is no hope for a comfortable and mobile life for her.... then I will give her peace."

This is all any horse can ask. And no horse could ask for better care than you have given Gogo.

My heart goes out to you.

Abby said...

I'm sorry Andrea.

Hugs and hugs and hugs and hugs.

No one should have to go through this. :'(

thistimedressage said...

Andrea,

I admire your grace, courage, and selflessness as you decide what to do for this special horse.

Even in this difficult time, your partnership and connection with Gogo endures.

Monica

Terry said...

I am so very sorry.

Lauren said...

Andrea,

After reading your blog for a year and now this I am very sorry that you have to (again) make this kind of decision.

I am glad though that the vet was able to find the truth of the matter. You don't have to wonder anymore and this new information will help you make the best decision for your horse.

Best wishes.

Veronica Lodge said...

You are a good horse owner. We support whatever decision you make that is best for you both.

Big Hugs.
xox

Ashleigh said...

The Grandest Foal
Author Unknown



I'll lend you for a little while,
my grandest foal, God said.
For you to love while he's alive,
and mourn for when he's dead.


It may be one or twenty years,
or days or months, you see.
But will you, til I take him back,
Take care of him for me?


He'll bring his charms to gladden you
and should his stay be brief,
you'll have those treasured memories,
as solace for your grief.


I cannot promise he will stay,
since all from earth return.
But there are lessons taught on earth
I want this foal to learn.


I've looked the wide world over
in my search for teachers true.
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes,
with trust, I have selected you.


Now will you give him all your love?
Nor think the labor vain.
Nor hate me when I come
to take him back again?


I know you'll give him tenderness
and love will bloom each day.
And for the happiness you've known,
you will forever-grateful stay.


But should I come and call for him
much sooner than you'd planned,
you'll brave the bitter grief that comes,
and maybe understand.

pony said...

Oh shit. I am so devastated and sad to see this post. I can't even imagine what you're going through, and I am deeply sorry.

I wish I could physically show you how much it means to me that there are other queer riders out there that give the same love and care to their horses as I do. I respect you so much as a fellow rider and peer and I can only speak for myself here, but obviously YOUR decision is the BEST decision, and I personally, would never ever question that.

Gina said...

I have no words of wisdom only unwavering support from someone you have never met but inspired to change her horse care system for the better. I pray that you find peace in knowing that you will make the decision Go Go needs you to make - whatever that is!

Abbie said...

Oh Andrea, my heart definitely goes out to you and Gogo. Your gut will lead you in the right direction, and whatever you do, Gogo will be eternally lucky to have had such a wonderful, caring owner. Better someone like you to have to make this decision than someone who may try and squeeze what they can out of her while they can. You know what I went through with Ernie - sometimes the hardest decision is the best. I learned that, probably the most important thing a horse has ever taught me. Best of luck :(

Grayson P. said...

I've read your blog from the first post. I know that you will make the best choice for Gogo. You have an amazing partnership with her, and are an inspiration when it comes to doing what's best for your horse. I hope you never have to make a decision as difficult as this ever again.

Albigears said...

Well shit.

So sorry to hear that Andrea.
Lots of hugs...

Sarah said...

Oh Andrea...I've rarely commented but I've followed you and Gogo for the last year, and I'm so, so sorry to see where she has ended up, physically. Peace to both of you-you will do the best you can for your beloved Mare, as you always have, and to hell with what anyone else thinks. Take care~

Frizzle said...

I wish there was something I could say that would make you feel better, but I know your heart is breaking. It is screamingly apparent that you love that mare with your whole heart, and I have no doubt that you will make the right decision for her, whatever that may be. Nobody can say that you left a single leaf unturned regarding her care, rehab, or well-being.
Hugs to you, girl. We're here for you if ya need us.

Kelly said...

Frequent long term reader, but infrequent commenter....

Just had to comment tonight.

Awwww, CRAP. You've heard it from other readers already, and you'll hear it again. I'm sorry. You love her, and she loves you. Whatever decision you make, however it comes about, you're doing the best you can for Gogo.

Damn. :(

Accendora said...

What a horrible thing to have happen, and what a terrible decision to have to make. From all I've read on this blog, I know you make the best decisions you can for your girl, and I wish you all the strength in the world for whatever this next one is.

Ruffles said...

Oh goodness, I'm sorry to hear this. I know you will make the right decision for Gogo.

Jennifer said...

Oh Andrea, there are no words. I've been following your blog for a while now, and it is so obvious how much you love and adore Gogo. You will make the right decision for her. Listen to what she's telling you, and know it's the best thing for her. Sending you lots of hugs and love from PA during this difficult time. I really was hoping for a better outcome for you and Gogo.

Abby said...

I wish I had that magic wand for you, Andrea. Thinking of you and Gogo.

Cat said...

Hi Andrea
I've been reading your blog for the last 2 years but I've never commented before. I'm so sorry to hear the prognosis for Gogo. You will make the right decision for Gogo, no matter how difficult it is because you love and respect her. My thoughts are with you both.

rachel! said...

I'm another long-time silent reader - just want to extend my sympathy and support for you and Gogo during this difficult time.

SmartAlex said...

I'm very sorry.

Niamh said...

Andrea (and Gogo) -- you are supported far and wide by people who have followed your journey with your beautiful mare. You've done right by her every step of the way (taking each thing as it comes) and have sacrificed on her behalf as much as is humanely possible. It would be an understatement to say that our collective hearts are breaking for you both.
*hugs for you both*

Katie said...

Oh Andrea, I can't tell you how sorry I am to hear this news. I wish there was something I could say or do to make this better, but I just can't. But know that there is someone here in ON who is thinking of you constantly, supporting you in whatever decision you make (because I know, without a doubt, that you will do the right thing for Gogo, whatever that is), and who is sharing a little bit of your pain. My heart breaks for you.

dp said...

Very sorry to hear this, Andrea. After struggling with Raven's DSLD I can imagine your situation. In hindsight I would have made the call earlier, rather than waiting until she was basically immobilized by the pain. I think you are very wise to consider earlier intervention, while GoGo is still relatively comfortable.

irish horse said...

I'm so sorry. Never commented, but have really loved following your blog. I know you will do the right thing at the right time for GoGo, and my heart goes out to you, it's so hard there really are no words...

Katie said...

my heart is breaking for you. Whatever you decide will be the right decision.

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

I'm so sorry Andrea.
No doubt, you love that Mare and she in return. I 100% support your choices and can only offer this; we are all devastated and are going through this with you. HUGS

Laura M said...

Thinking of you and Gogo...

Megan said...

I am so sorry...I know what you are feeling, I have made the decision to let go of my 6 year old TB due to a tumor and it breaks my heart for you to have to go through this thought process. Just know I'm thinking about you and Gogo.

Laura Crum said...

I've not commented before, but in many years of horse ownership, I have gone through similar struggles a few times and know how horrible it is. My very best wishes to you and Gogo--there is no simple answer. I have chosen to euthanise some, and kept trying with others--I have seen badly injured/lame horses become happy. pretty sound pasture pets, and also chronic problems just get worse and worse until I finally had to give up. We can never really know the right answer, which is the hardest part. I always think, just tell me what would be best and I'll do it. But no one knows. When you make your choice out of love and deep knowledge of the horse, as you are doing, at some level it is always the right choice. Its the love that counts.

Denali's Mom said...

We love you! You are such a good friend, and I wish that something could be different. We are here no matter what and support your decision 100%

Andrea you kept me from doing myself in November, and my goal is to do the same for you no matter what.

Everyone else, take a minute and read the latest post on www.wildponybeast.com

Annette said...

She's your horse. You know her best. You love her best. You will do what is best for her. Listen to her and listen to your heart.

Amy said...

This breaks my heart :(. I hate that you have to make this decision. It is the down side to letting these beasts take over our hearts. But for all the pain it can cause the joy they give out weighs it 10,000x's. you will always have her memory alive and well in this blog and that is something to be grateful for. I hope for comfort and peace for you.

Jo Belasco said...

**Hugs** If only every horse could have a person who thinks of the horse before him/herself. Whatever you decide, we all know, including Gogo, that it will be what is best for her.

Nic Barker said...

A wise old lady once said to me "Better to let them go a day too early than a day too late", and thats the hardest thing of all. No-one in their right mind will give you anything other than 100% support.

Jess said...

I don't comment here, but read all of the time. You've already received an slew of comments, but I wanted to share my sympathies. I'm so incredibly sorry you have to make this decision. From what I've read, you're a very strong person and I think everyone knows that you'll make the right decision for yourself and Gogo. My heart goes out to you both! *Hugs*!!!

Dressager said...

Andrea, I'm so sorry. I don't know what else to day.

Breathe said...

My heart and thoughts are with you. I have no doubt the choice you make will be the one she needs from you.

We are here for you.

Trini said...

Andrea. I am very very sorry to hear this. I recently had to make the same decision for my little old lady basset hound. I agree with the previous posters. Better to let them go a day too early than a day too late. I know this sucks beyond belief and wish you all the best.

Sarah said...

Dear Andrea,
I've been quietly enjoying your blog for a long time. The situation you and Gogo find yourselves in now is so sad and my heart goes out to you both. I hope you feel loved and supported by your friends on here while you make these tough choices about your lovely and wonderful mare, and feel peace about how well you've cared for and loved her this whole time.
*Hugs*
Sarah

Jean said...

Sending support for whatever road you choose. You and you alone are Gogo's caretaker and it is your decision to make.

From one horseman to another, my heart breaks for you, but I know you will only do what is best for your sweet girl.

Gabriella Elise said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. I linked here from Denali's mom's blog.. So sorry to hear. I hope that you think long and hard over your decision, and I know you'll decide whatever's best for Gogo.

Thoughts and prayers to you.

Wiola said...

So wished it didn't come to this :( Really really sorry :(
I'm sure whatever you decide will be right for Gogo.

Nicholas said...

That's awful news, and I hate you had to hear it. Thank you for posting so openly and movingly, sharing such a gut wrenching moment with anyone and everyone.

Hope you find peace with the end of the story, whatever it is.

Sylvia said...

Andrea-
I've been reading your blog for about..3 years, now?
I've enjoyed your gogo stories, pictures, exciting competitions, and your guest bloggers.
You're a great horse mom. Whatever decision you make for Gogo and yourself will be the right one. Either way will be A difficult journey..
Big (((hugs)))

Lacey said...

I've been pulling for Gogo since the original injury, I've watched from my computer as you've done every single thing you could and had such incredible patience to bring her back to soundness. I'm so sad that you are in this position. I know you'll make the best decision for Gogo. Be sure to take care of yourself too.

Kate said...

I am so sorry. Only you can know what is right for your horse. Sending best wishes and thoughts to you both.

Kate said...

Sending love, hugs, and support no matter what happens. Give your gorgeous mare a kiss for me.

Gingham said...

Lots and lots of hugs and support.

As uncomfortable as we are in moments like these, I hope that you are able to maintain supreme confidence in yourself and know that you are one of the most responsible (compassionate, educated, etc) owners I have ever come across.

Don't doubt your gut, and don't think that it affects what you and Gogo have accomplished.

xx (G & Pia)

achieve1dream said...

This post has me in tears. :( I was really pulling for Gogo. I'm so, so sorry it has all come down to this. I know you love this mare and would do anything you could for her. You have done all and more than a lot of people that you can and I guess sometimes it just isn't meant to happen. I'm sorry. I don't even know what to say. If there was some way I could lessen the pain for you I would do it in a heartbeat.

Eventing at Midnight said...

I am so sorry. I truly feel your pain. Just this past July after four years, three surgeries and a long, long struggle we made the decision to let my English Bull Terrier go. His health was never the same after the third surgery and he went down hill quickly over the July 4th weekend. It was so very hard. So I feel for you, and send good thoughts your way.