Cowgirl Up on

Monday, May 12, 2008

Just When Plans Were Falling Into Place

I have had Ariel for 12 years. She has been my absolute best teacher; well, with help from my mentors and friends, too. I truly believe that if I had not acquired her from her previous owner that she would have ended up as a decadent meal on some foreigner's dinner plate. She went from an uncatchable disrespectful 6 year old green broke mare to hormonally challenged head case to a reasonably predictable quirky mare. Is she solid and dependable? No. Is she safe for just anyone? No. But she is who she is and I have learned to live with all of those parts of her to the best of my ability. Do I trust her 100% of the time? Never. She's not ever going to be that kind of horse.

Last December, The Horse Magazine online e-mail newsletter ran a story about a Cushings syndrome research study that is going to be run at Oklahoma State University. I enquired with professor Dianne McFarlane, DVM who is running the project to find out if she needed test subjects. Amazingly, she accepted Ariel into the program sight unseen. I began making plans to deliver Ariel to OKState once the weather improved in the spring.

Unfortunately, the weather and Ariel's health issues have not be cooperative in this endeavor. The recent abscess in Ariel's right front foot has been on of the most trying and exasterbating experiences have have had recently with her.It showed up back in early March on radiograph I had taken when she was going through a laminitic episode. Within a week she was 3 legged lame and not putting any weight on the foot. It continued like that for the next 3 weeks before any sign of the abscess showed on her hairline. When a small area finally release some pressure inside the foot, her comfort level greatly improved. However, it was short-lived. Within a few days she was even more sore and uncomfortable than before. On Ariel's 19th birthday, April 19th, she was extremely depressed and in a great deal of pain. I began a short course of banamine to help relieve some of her discomfort. She was quite sucked up from trying to hobble around. She was still eating and drinking, but not at a normal level. And she thankfully was spending some time laying down when stalled.

Finally, she started blowing some pressure out of an area on her hairline. The stench was some of the most disgusting I have smelled in quite a while. The past 2 weeks or so have been spent flushing the area and trying to keep the drainage flowing and wrapping it keeping it clean. She has been in so much pain that trimming the foot was impossible and the other front foot has has some terrible flattening and flaring because of the weight constantly be placed on it. Thankfully I was able to get a slight trim done on both front feet a few days ago.

Thanks to all of the above I am pretty sure that I am scrapping the trip to OKState to donate Ariel to the Cushings study. I am researching other options. It is not fair to Ariel that she suffer through another year of not being able to graze and be a normal horse. With fuel prices and her health being so unstable, I am ultimately looking at some sort of euthanization scenario. The OKState option was so appealing because there would ultimately be some answers at the end of the process. Does she have a pituitary tumor? Are the other internal things going on? Those kinds of things. I may look at Washington State University to see if they have some sort of research that she might be utilized for, but I don't relish hauling her 4 hours as she isn't healthy enough to haul even an hour right now. I am going to ask my vet about how much a private necropsy locally might be, perhaps at Pilchuck. And the last option is euthanization without any necropsy and just have the rendering truck pick up her remains.

I welcome any suggestions that others might have as well. And selling and/or dumping at an auction are not an option, of course.

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Shadow Rider said...

Only suggestion I would make is do what your heart tells you to. I think you have good options. If she were my girl, I would put her down with kindness, in surroundings she knew and send her off to be recycled back into the earth.

Honestly, what will you gain by a necropsy? A chance to berate yourself if something turns up that if you had known you could have cured? Or to find out it was something that never would have been helped, and that she had been in pain for a while. Just looks like paying money to find a new way to beat yourself up, when you have done your best for her.

Donna DeNoble said...

Liz, I agree with Shadow rider. My horse had Cushings too. He rotated and could not walk. He was put down one day later. You are doing all you can. Somtimes nature just takes over. Pick a sunny day, feed her lots of carrots and say goodbye??? I just had to euthenize my little doxie dog on Mother's day. She had a heart tumor that everyone missed and went belly-up in one day. It was a surprise, and I was not ready, but feel ok now that she is at peace and in no pain. Pain takes the quality of life away. I hope somone ca=ould do that for me someday when I need it. Alas, not for humans. Be strong Liz!

Callie said...

Oh how sad.......It's a tough decision to make and not fully knowing all that has gone on, I must agree with the others. Good luck to you. It's never easy having to make such a decision. Do what's in your heart.

Nikki said...

Liz, I feel your pain. I had to put down a gelding that I had for 16 yrs. I knew that he wasn't going to improve. I had to pick a time when I was ready to do it. My mother tried to push me into it but I was only ready to do it on my time table. When I finally did it, I knew that I had exhausted all efforts to keep my horse healthy & was doing the best for him. I also had an understanding vet (Dr Ross) who told me that if I wanted to back out, he'd understand. I was thankful that I had the option to bury him in his own pasture. If you do decide to take her to Pilchuck, I know first hand that they have an excellent staff. Only you know when it's time & what is the best course of action for you & your horse.

Amanda said...

Aw Liz I am so sorry. I know that you will make the right decision for your girl and I stand behind you 100%. Hugs to you. I thought of you today when I saw 2 orioles out in the tree by my window.