Monday, April 25, 2016

Official retirement

For the past  few months, App has been NQR.  Sometimes I thought I could put my finger on it, other times not.  Rest didn't really help, neither did Bute.  I tried riding him to make it worse so we could pinpoint it to no avail.  It stayed consistent, sometimes there, sometimes not. When I had Dr A out, before we moved to PA, we did some lameness blocks and blocked from the knee down with no change.  Alrighty then.  We needed some imaging and we ran out of time, we had to continue down this path in PA if we wanted to find the issue.

After the 12 hour trip to PA, App seemed to be getting a little worse.  It is possible that it is the change in ground making it worse, in MI it was very sandy and soft and here in PA we are literally on a mountain and it is pretty hard and rocky.  App now seems to constantly shift his weight and stands with his front feet as close together as possible, at times stepping on himself.  I rode him a few days when we came to PA to work on getting him back into shape, however after the 3rd ride he just seemed too uncomfortable.  Hmmm.  I had the barn vet look at him, Dr M, and she agreed with Dr A.  It certainly looked like it came from his shoulder and imaging would be needed.  The field x-ray machines just aren't strong enough to go through a shoulder.  She recommended taking the 2.5 hour trip to Mid Atlantic Equine Hospital, fun times!

Does he look lame?  Not really?  Yeah, I know!

On Thursday we hauled out at a bright and early 7a and got there at 1016a for an 11a appointment.  The vet was very nice and personable and even knew Dr A, apparently they did their internship together. Small world!  He wanted to block Apps lower leg just to rule it back out, and so we did and not surprisingly there was no change.  It certainly is somewhere in his shoulder.  We brought him down to the ultrasound room so they could block his shoulder and as the vet was preparing the block, he asked if I was a gambler.  Uh, not really?  He said we could block his shoulder to confirm, however in looking at the ultrasound he is seeing really suspicious things that make him think the issue is around his shoulder joint.  We could take the xray to see what was going on, which is what we would do if he blocked to sound in the shoulder, but if it wasn't the shoulder, we would have the cost of an xray we didn't need.  Did I want to gamble the cost of an xray or the cost of a block injection?  I told him I thought it was his shoulder and wanted the xray, so let's gamble!

I commented during the exam that App was hard to drug, that the amount of sedation for TWH to be falling over drunk, for example, would barely touch App.  We had a laugh over it as Apps can be hard to sedate and App is a grumpy old man.  Well, during the xray, App was so uncomfortable that they went ahead and tried to sedate him.  They apparently gave a "very healthy" dose of sedation.  For their efforts, App was still quite alert and unable to get into the position they needed for a shoulder xray.  So the helpful vets then gave him an IV dose of bute to help him out.  Which apparently it did help, but he was still much too alert for the xray to get done so they had to give him a second "very healthy" dose of sedation. Ha!  That did the trick and they were able to get their pictures.  Old man can take his drugs, that's for sure!

I was then able to come into the xray room to see the pictures.  App was obviously out of it, he was quite drugged but you could see him thinking and watching instead of floating on the cloud like most do.  And he had such a hard time turning around and then walking out.  HA!  I am such a bad parent, laughing at my kid being so drugged up, but it was very amusing.  The vet pulled up the xray and *boom* instant retirement.  Unfortunately, App has significant bone remodeling in his shoulder joint and is walking bone-on-bone, with minimal to no cartilage.  The vet said he has seen horses with 10% of this much arthritis/remodeling who were way lamer than App is being now.  He called App a very tough cookie who has a high pain tolerance.  Dude, you didn't ride him in his younger years, I would agree with you.  App had no problem doing his thing regardless of the amount of your pulling, spur or crop LOL!  Unfortunately there isn't anything that can be done for him now, App is currently working to fuse his shoulder joint, though he may not end up doing it, and unfortunately there is zero that can be done other than keeping him comfortable.

By the time we got back down to the ultrasound room to do a shoulder injection of steroids and HA (about 10 minutes), App was already coming out of his (heavy) sedation.  He was alert enough that they had to twitch him to get the injection done.  Ahh App, of course you did.  The vet tech even commented how surprised she was with how alert he was after how much sedation he got.  I ate some lunch while giving him some time to make sure he was good and alert, got loaded up, made it back to the barn and got there at 520p.  Nothing like an almost 12 hour day to really kill your day.

I am pretty sad about App being fully retired, he has so much training and could have done so much when brought back into work but it just isn't to be.  The vet said he is in excellent condition with none of the muscle wasting that he expected to see and that his lameness certainly doesn't match his xray.  If the vet had seen just the xray, he would expect a horse to be virtually 3 legged lame, not just NQR.  It is apparent that App has had this for a LONG time and seems to have simply adjusted to the pain level.  If nothing else, I guess it is good that he has been virtually a pasture pet for the past year.

Someone is having a hard time accepting retirement
So now I have an expensive pasture pet on full retirement, but after over 20 years of being together, he deserves it.  Enjoy your retirement App, you have earned it.


  1. I'm sorry he needs to be retired, but he's lucky to have such a good owner.

  2. What a tough dude. Sorry to hear he's officially retired, but he looks like he's not too bothered by the news!

  3. awe, Apps would be that tough. Well at least now you know, and you have Mia to work with still. Boy is he gonna be sassy on full retirement ;)

  4. I am so sorry about App. He's lucky to have a good place to retire to

  5. This almost made me cry. :( Poor App. I'm so sorry it is something that basically can't be treated and that he has to retire. Will the injections keep him comfortable or will he have to be on daily bute? I'm glad you at least have an answer, because not knowing is really hard. I hope he enjoys retirement.

    1. He is on Previcox (Equicox) and it is keeping him comfortable. Unfortunately bute doesn't help at all due to the kind of pain it is, which is why being on bute didn't help him at all. Just hoping we can keep him comfortable for a long time :)

  6. :( So sad to hear this, but I am so so glad you get to see him enjoy his retirement :)