The fact that Mimi is my first horse means that she has taught me a lot over the years…over 19 years now…and she still keeps teaching me.
Right now, that lesson is “older horse management.”
At “coming 23” she’s not technically that old — there are still 50+ mile endurance horses competing into their 20s — but she was started fairly young and has done a lot of work in her life. The fact she is and always has been a chronic stall kicker hasn’t exactly helped in her the hind end soundness department, either.
It’s murky waters for us both — I hate to see my baby girl getting old, and she lives for work and having a job to do. So what to do?
I could sit around and stew about the general unfairness of life and wonder why can’t my pony be one of those that still keeps going strong well into their 20s. (Confession: Thoroughly stewed. Realization? Life is unfair.)
I could put lots and lots of $$$ into her for expensive vet diagnostics and find out exactly what is not functioning where. But honestly? What would that really achieve in this case? I already know she’s getting old and she’s crunchy. Given her case history, it’s most likely some arthritis somewhere in the hind end. I’m not trying to bring back my high-performance endurance pony…I just want to make sure she’s comfortable enough to stay in light work and keep a healthy level of fitness. (And I poured lots and lots of diagnosis and treatment $$$ into her when we were competing.)
So, to that end, I tried a fairly inexpensive experiment: Bute-Less supplement.
It’s not competition-legal in distance riding, because it contains devil’s claw and yucca…but I’m not looking to compete her, just make sure she’s comfortable and functional.
If she were mentally ready to retire, that’s what I would do. But she has such a strong work ethic, she thrives on doing something.
She’s been on the Bute-Less for two weeks now.
And yesterday when I rode her, she didn’t do any tripping from the hind end for the first time in I-don’t-even-know how many months.
Feelings: Elation, that a relatively inexpensive fix ($20, once I apply discount coupons, for a month’s supply) just might be the ticket to keeping my pony comfortable and happy. Guilt, that I didn’t try something sooner and was too quick to shrug and go “she’s getting old and crunchy, that’s just how it’s going to be from now on.” (Hey, I’m part Russian. I’m honor-bound to have self-imposed guilt-trips. And drink vodka.)
I plan on doing at least a couple month experiment with this (without majorly changing anything else) to see if the tripping stays away, and then try taking her off of it. Fortunately, one of my internal “do better at this in 2016” was to get a journal/calendar and track things like ride days, hoof trims, supplements fed, etc.