Friday, May 15, 2015

How Old is 10?

Circa 2005
In my neverending quest to make a sound, happy horse, I have scheduled an appointment with the pre-eminent New England veterinarian for lameness and Sports Medicine.
Yes, my $1,500 horse is going to see the best.
L palpated Boca's back yesterday. He had 48 hours off, and 1 day of bute.
Upon palpation, his back muscles were still spasming significantly.
L said, in her opinion, this would indicate a more chronic condition, and would make her think back/joints/hocks, not necessarily saddle fit.
I'm not going to lie - for all my brave words yesterday, I was pretty discouraged.
It doesn't help that I have too much time on my hands and spend too much time on the internet. The devil makes use of idle hands. I came across a sale ad for a 16h+ 4 year old gelding, at the same place I bought Boca a year ago.
I started wondering... how old is 10 really?  I know nothing about Boca's past. I don't know if he was used hard, or hardly used. Would he be a different horse if I had bought him at 4?
Am I crazy to try to train/re-train a 10 year old horse?
To be honest, I did concoct a fantasy where I swapped Boca for the young, big gelding. In my mind, I pictured Boca going back to the dealer to be re-sold as a trail horse, and the big young gelding and I going on to success in the show ring.
Alas, I am waiting on a call back from the Vet's office to confirm my appointment.
And the big young gelding? He's already out on lease.
If I sound crazy and all over the place, it's because I am.
Welcome to the circus in my head. Grab some popcorn.


  1. 1) You sound completely normal. Believe you me, I've spent most of the last two weeks on that same crazy train.

    2) Courage is also 10 and I'm retraining him. FWIW, he's quite an old ten physically--racing really takes it out of horses. On the other hand, he's a very young ten mentally and that is a challenge to reconcile.

    3) Hocks injections can be a LIFESAVER for horses that need them. My old man got $$$ injections every six months and they kept him very happy. There seems to be some stigma about injecting floating around that I think is perfectly ridiculous. If a good vet recommends injecting, definitely do it. Around here, basic injections are like... $150? Not a huge deal. (I have no idea if the vet will recommend injections, but just putting this out there.)

    4) Hugs to you. We put so much time, money, and effort into our horses and it's hard to cope when something isn't right. That doesn't make you crazy.

    5) What makes you crazy is having one in the first place.

    1. Thank you for validating my crazy! Welcome to horses... we're all insane around here!

      If the vet finds it is something manageable with maintenence (ie injections or something else) I will happily inject or treat. I have no issues whatsoever with maintenance.

      #5. Yes. A thousand times YES to this. At this point, a nicer house or a vacation home is looking mighty good. Maybe owning IN Boca. Not A Boca.

  2. You don't sound crazy, you sound like a horse person. Tucker is 13 now, we started re-training for dressage after our hunter career when he was 10. It's not outlandish. But, not knowing what Boca's history was, and seeing some outward signs of discomfort, means you're doing the right thing by getting him evaluated by a vet with a good reputation. Remember way back when - you did a blog post about all the possible things that could be wrong with him. You've been slowly going down the list - training, ulcers, saddle fit, joint pain... it's a difficult process but you'll get through it and you are absolutely doing the right thing for your horse by trying to figure it out. And there's no shame in fantasizing about trading him. If in fact it ends up that he is in some kind of chronic pain and he needs to be a trail horse, that will be okay too -- but cross that bridge IF you come to it.

    1. Wow, I totally forgot all about that post I wrote. And it is so crazy, but I am systematically working my way through the list of possibilities. I wasn't really consious I was doing that, but it is exactly what I am doing.

      Thank you for not making me feel like the devil for fantasizing about trading him in :) If he did need a home as a trail horse, it is something he is a total rockstar at. But hopefully it won't come to that!

  3. Good for you for getting to the bottom of the lameness issue! I bet that new vet will be able to provide some great insights. I say hold off on any decision making until you consult with this new vet. :)

    I bought Apollo as a recently started/gelded 8 year old, so 10 is not too old at all! We both have had soundness issues (I had to take a year off after a serious car accident). And he has not been an easy horse overall. I think I could have made my journey more enjoyable by chosing a more broke and less cheeky steed... but I can't really say I regret it either because it has made me a better horsewoman. If either of my young horses is as difficult soundness or training wise as Apollo was I won't be keeping them longterm.

    Horses supposed to be fun, if Boca is not the long term horse for you there is nothing wrong with that! I will be here to cheer you on either way :)

  4. my fingers are so seriously crossed for you. Boca just seems like the neatest horse - i really want him to get better (and i don't even know him haha)! but maybe more importantly i hope you can get some answers. good luck

  5. I think it all depends on the horse's personality. When I got Simon, I was warned to definitely NOT get him because he sat in the pasture for 2-3 years with no work. I was told that horses like that 'learn how nice it is not to work' and don't want to try... but for him that's completely untrue. Simon is 9 now, and our training is constant. I don't think 10 is too old to re-train a horse, and I feel like you're training and improving Boca vs re-training him. It's not like he used to scuba dive and now you're teaching him to mountain climb ;) I suspect hocks, and I get it WILL get better!

  6. I retrained my previous horse from an all-rounder to a hunter and he was older than 10! Every horse is different and presents their own challenges.

  7. Hey, welcome aboard the 'diagnosis my horse crazy train'. I have been so down this road with irish (numerous blog posts) etc. I think you are doing the right thing with the vet.

    All that said, it isn't the worst thing in the universe to sell (or lease) Boca to a better fit for him physically.