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Senior Mare Popped Her Knee... Vets Gave Me The News Every Horse-Owner Fears...

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Well, my 20 y/o mare Gypsie has a popped knee... and it's bad enough that the vet has told me to retire her from riding for the rest of her life. The vet has also put her on 8 over-the-counter aspirin daily, a double dose of her joint supplement, and prescribed 2 grams of Bute on her really bad days.

She's only pasture-sound now... she's lame and favoring her knee/leg on anything other than soft grass and dirt... and she has a permanent swelling on her knee...

She's hesitant to move out and her joints crack and pop when she walks... She's stiff and, though the medicine is making things a bit better, she's never going to be 100% again... We didn't catch things in time for the vet to be able to do surgery or anything to help her... The vet also said that he was glad she aborted her foal back in December/January, as if she had carried it full term, he said the extra weight would have done so much damage to her knee that as soon as the foal was weaned we would have had to put her to sleep...

I have already gotten a second vet's opinion, too, and the second vet gave me even worse news than the first... The second vet told me that the medicines will work for a while, but eventually my girl's knee will get to be so bad that nothing will work, and I will have to make the decision to have Gypsie put to sleep in order to keep her out of pain... The time-limit he gave me was roughly two years...

I never thought I'd have to start thinking about having my beautiful mare put down... I always figured she'd die of old age in our pasture. Gypsie is my baby-girl. She's my first horse and I have had her since she was 6 years old... It's just devastating to think that I may only have two more years with her...

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I'm sorry to hear about your mare.

She's only pasture-sound now... she's lame and favoring her knee/leg on anything other than soft grass and dirt... and she has a permanent swelling on her knee...

She's hesitant to move out and her joints crack and pop when she walks... She's stiff and, though the medicine is making things a bit better, she's never going to be 100% again...

with what you said here, I wouldn't wait to euth her. I might not do it today, but I would highly considering doing it soon as her pain is only going to get worse... not better.

:angel3::huggy::angel3::huggy:

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It has been in my mind... I'm wondering near constantly if it wouldn't be kinder to go ahead and have her put to sleep... but all stiffness and soreness aside, she's happy, otherwise healthy and getting around fairly well and doesn't act as though she's hurting too badly... the medicine she's on has already helped... but I just don't know... I'm very worried with Winter approaching, as she's a hard keeper in winter and already has arthritis (vet diagnosed) along the back portion of her spine, down both back legs and down her front left leg from falls, spills and other injuries in the past...(hence the joint supplement)...

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Well, she made me smile and laugh earlier when I went out to feed...

She's on a 50 acre pasture (I have to walk it daily to find her and her son to bring them in to eat their grain) and today she got so energetic (for the first time in several months) that she started trotting towards the general direction of the barn when she saw me (I had to grab her and force her to stop so I could halter her) and then she proceeded to try and drag me across the pasture to the barn... I made the mistake of loosening my hold on the lead (so I could reloop it to hold it better) and she ripped it from my hand and took off down the hill to the barn full-speed while bucking and farting...

I haven't seen her run full-speed in almost a year and she hasn't bucked, even in play out loose in the pasture, in at least two years!

She was waiting on me at the barn, giving me the look like she was saying... "What took you so long! Where's my food!"...

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If you have every intent of holding on to her as long as you can, Talk to you vet about putting her on Previcox - we were at the "make a decision" point with a beloved stallion. A visiting vet suggested we mare get a few more happy, pain-free years with Previcox - and it was quite amazing the change it made.

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I second the Previcoxx, it did wonders for my mare, at least for a year or two. She is starting to get to the point, already, that it is not as effective.

I have been mentally visiting the possibility of her needing to be euth'ed, just so I can stay aware of how she is feeling on a day to day basis and not be blind-sided when it is her time.

Edited by Greenhaven

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Sorry to hear of your old girl. :(

I suppose working in the animal care industry has gained me perspective. I hope this will offer comfort to any of those who face this situation. It's hard, and may sound cold, but there's no fault in making realistic decisions. If winter is hard on her, for feeding, comfort, arthritis pain, it's not terrible of you to think in advance of what may be best.

Ultimately, we owners and animal-lovers we have the responsibility for knowing when to help end our companions pain when they can no longer take it. When client's asked me, when would they know it was time, I could only tell them- it's your pet, you know it best. When they stop eating, drinking... when they can't move on their own... when they no longer have that spark that makes them them... when they don't want to be part of the family.

I've seen owners who, for whatever reason, can't let go and drag out keeping their pet going beyond what is fair. Every case is different, and as long as your mare is happy (sounds like she's enjoying life! :) ) and able to do her daily activities, keep her comfortable and loved. She'll tell you when she'd had enough.

Our most recent decision story, if it helps:

It's been about a year now since we had to have Poe (a rescued, previously starved... always a hard keeper, troubled little guy) euth'd.
Poe was found by someone, starving in a dirt lot, late middle aged. He was brought by that person to a boarding barn (our neighbor), paid a few months feed and board, then the owner disappeared. The barn owner (not a great horseman in the care of his animals) just threw their poor quality home-grown alfalfa at him twice a day. It was the concern of the boarders who donated portions of their feed and hay to Poe and offered to turn him out.

Poe did not trust people, he could not be ridden. He was about 14 h, fine bones.. Arab cross maybe?? He had many scars. His back was bowed, and one of his most guarded areas.

My sister and I have a goal of a horse rescue in our lives. We offered to take him when we heard that he'd been abandoned. The barn owner decided he would sell this gelding for $800, which was pretty ridiculous for a horse that was essentially rogue. (here in NM, horses are often not treated very well sadly). We could not justify spending money on a unridable horse.

A kind older lady who boarded there, knew we offered to take the guy on and she arranged to buy a mare and get Poe as a free add on. She then wrote a bill of donation (sale) to us and Poe came to live next door. Poe did not let you touch him. He would not let you catch him. He was food aggressive.

Poe just needed time to learn that people really weren't all bad. He got several months of just being a horse in our paddock with our geldings. He learned food would always come on time. He had a knack for pulling down fences, and he always managed to get odd scrapes and cuts. A year later, our daughters were riding him. We put a very strict weight limit on him (small adults and childern only, light english saddle- that's another story)

For 3 years, Poe was part of our family. He was a great little horse! As my sister often commented, if we'd had him when he was younger and not ruined, he'd have made a winning endurance horse. Smooth, forward moving.

but he always took more food, more suppliments than the others. We tried Previcox for what the Vet figured was TMJ (he took all day to eat his chow). His left stifle would lock up from time to time and cause him to trip on the hind while walking.

Last fall we started discussing his overall quality of life. Winter was always hard on him. What would be best for him, my sister and I discussed back and forth. He answered the question for us, sadly.

My sister came home from work one day (they live at her house) and found him down colicing. He'd eaten his breakfast, he'd eaten the day before, no signs of impending issues.

He'd been down enough that the hair on his hips was rubbed out. She called me while still walking him to keep him standing. We dosed with on hand banamine (iv) we called the vets, gave them the triage run down. The banamaine helped, but only for a short time,

He was back to pawing, pacing. We made the call for the vet to come. And while I stood in the dark cool evening with him, picking his mane and brushing him, Poe told me he was done with the struggles. He had that look, the one animals get- I've seen it many times- when they just don't have the energy to continue.

On ultrasound, he had a large blockage. The doc offered surgery, but all I've read and seen is that it only buys them some time. We had little Poe put down while still under sedation.

I'm glad he had a good 3 years of life, with 3 little girls who loved him and braided his hair.

Sadly, my sister also had to make the decision for her nearly 15 year old doberman, who's spine had fused, pressing his spine and nerves and caused him great pain. He was always happy to see the family, tried to eat everyday, and shuffled around the yard. His spirit was willing, but his body simply could not go anymore. Everyday we looked at him, weighed what was best for him. She let him go this past March. He was a much harder decision, but the right one. <3

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