Saturday, March 31, 2012

Responsible Horse Ownership

There's currently a post on the COTH forums that is from a poster who was looking at a horse to buy. It's a 5 year old QH who was trained in reining. Part of the post is a quote from the owner:

"...He is in egg bar pads but is still lame. I basically have him turned out with minimal riding. I've been told I should turn him out barefoot for about 6 months, which is what Im' going to do on May 1st if I still have him. My vet suggested Tildren and injecting navicular bursas and coffin joints. This is why I need to find him a home. I don't have the money to fix him. He has a cyst on the right navicular. He was born with bipartite naviculars in both fronts although, the right one was questionable at 20 months and is no longer visible. He was lame at 20 months but shoeing and injecting coffins resolved it. He has been slightly lame since Aug 2011. Both naviculars have degenerated. I haven't had him tested for insulin resistance. No vet has offered that...."

This horse has congenital bipartite navicular just like Digby if he was born with bipartite navicular bones. This horse, however, has it in both fronts as opposed to Digby who only has it in his left front. It makes me so sad to hear that someone is trying to SELL their horse because he has this problem because they don't have the funds to fix it. Now, I do not know the original poster, I do not know the horse, or the seller. I'm not in their situations. But I have my own horse with this same problem and trust me, I have limited funds as well.

Let me just start by saying, I can't believe they're trying to sell a horse with that. Who's going to buy it with x-rays like that? No vet is going to be like "yeah this passes the PPE." The owner is at least being open about the horses situation but where are you going to find someone who wants an expensive pasture pet? Digby has been sound 99% of his life and let me tell you, he had a pretty good career. Just look at the jumping video link on my About Digby page. He's 13. He trained to race, did pony races, evented up to novice, went to college, jumped heavily there, showed in the 3' jumpers, jumped up to 4'3", and I dabbled around on him for the past two years. Digby has worked. He's had a career in his life. This horse in question is 5 and has been lame for a while now again after shoeing and injections stopped working. The navicular disease has gotten worse. He's FIVE YEARS OLD. Horses live for a long time. Who wants to spend possibly thousands of dollars on a horse in the future that has been lame already for a great portion of his life and is only 5?

It's possible that 6 months barefoot in a field will help this horse too. Digby's sound again. It's possible if this horse loses weight (I'm assuming he's over weight because the post mentions a possibility of insulin resistance), that will help. It's possible with the best farrier around, a proper diet to encourage weight loss, and a slew of good vets that the horse will get sound. I'd love to hope that the horse can be sound! I really would. Realistically though, could he really? It's a young horse who has had soundness issues basically his entire life so far. Is it even worth it to spend the money? What person is going to step up and take care of a horse like this if not his current owner and possibly breeder if they've had him since so young?

If anyone knows this horse or the owner, I'm sorry. I am not trying to insult them at all. I am frustrated by my limited funds as well. I wish I could find someone who would pay to try to fix Digby. I can't afford to do Tildren on my horse. I can't do stem cell. I can't do PRP. I would do anything to "fix" him but he's not "fixable." It's not possible with my current income. It might not even be possible if I win the lottery (which is at a whopping 640 MILLION dollars at the moment...) unless they have some way to rebuild his entire internal hoof structure. But I would personally never, ever, ever sell Digby. I purchased him. I didn't know of his issue when I bought him but now he's my problem. I wouldn't even give him away unless I was incapable of taking care of him anymore (because of total lack of funds after I sold my car, got rid of my cell phone, did everything else I could or death) and I'd only give him away to someone I knew who was fully aware of the costs, of what the potential costs could be down the road when it gets worse, and what limited information we know about the disease. If I could not find that ideal situation for him, I would donate him to a vet school/clinic for them to put him down and then study his legs and hooves to help future horses.

If my five year old horse kept going lame and I couldn't find a good situation like I mentioned earlier, I'd give him to a vet school/clinic and let them do a bit of research with the horse, then they would put him down and do more research. I know this is how they would proceed because I've asked around for when Digby gets to the point where I can't keep him sound anymore as a pasture puff. I'd love to save all the horses but you just can't sometimes. :( It absolutely breaks my heart to read things like this, especially when they hit so close to home. It's just not fair to the horse to be sold to another home. I would please, please, please hope the owner either puts the horse down (or better yet donates him like I suggested to have him put down afterwards so it helps future horses with this problem) or pays for him to be retired in a field until he is not happy and "comfortable enough" anymore.

Posts like these remind me that it's a degenerative disease and eventually Digby isn't going to stay sound. :( It might be 2 years, it might be 20. It's going to break my heart.

<3 Go hug your horses today.


  1. I totally agree........and it breaks my heart! Do horses only have value as mounts? I see it all the time; "I can't afford a horse that I can't ride." Guess it goes back to the question, are horses livestock (like cows) or pets (like dogs)? Either way, once you take on a horse, you have taken them on for better or worse. Wish people wouldn't pass on the hard decisions to another human, but rather do as you have and take their responsibility seriously.

    1. I feel that horses, to me, are more like pets but I am not running a business or trying to make money of any kind off of them. I understand from a business perspective how that changes things but this woman is (I believe) selling her personal horse. I hate to see horses put down but honestly if you can't afford to keep a horse sound then it's better than tossing them off to someone else or letting them suffer.

      I always think of buying a horse is like getting married. For better or for worse, just like you said.