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Captcha
07-18-2010, 03:28 AM
The set-up:

The main character loves horses, works for a big barn (discipline/breed yet to be established, so if it matters, feel free to suggest). One of the horses is injured badly enough that the barn decides to put it down (or sell it for meat? - thoughts welcome). The MC argues that the horse could be treated, and could still have a good life as a hack or light-work horse, and COULD potentially fully recover enough to return to its original use. But the barn decides that the expense doesn't justify the low likelihood of success, and the MC is forced to buy the horse (cheap) and pay for its treatment just to keep it alive. Ideally, I'd like there to be a sign that the treatment is going surprisingly well about a week or two after the initial diagnosis, if that's all possible.

What I'm hoping to find out:

Is there an injury that fits all this?

Roughly what would the treatment be? (I can research this if someone gives me a likely injury to start from, but first-hand accounts are always great).

Anything else I need to know?

This story is set in the US, but I haven't gotten more specific than that, so really any discipline or breed is possible, for now...

MacAllister
07-18-2010, 03:45 AM
Kate, I'd look at something like EPM (http://horses.about.com/od/diseasesandillness/p/epmhoirse.htm), rather than an injury, for your horse-related problem. An injury bad enough to suggest euthanasia that the horse recovers from is going to be a tough sell to most people who know and work with horses. I trained, instructed, and competed for a living for years, and worked for a Large Animal veterinary hospital for years, and I'm a part-time farrier, now, as well -- and that set-up would make me pretty skeptical as a reader.

EPM (or even West Nile -- which has the added benefit of being kind of "sexy" right now) is, on the other hand, still weird enough that -- IF you can keep the horse from foundering or sustaining permanent brain damage, you can sometimes see a full recovery. West Nile has the additional problems of being highly contagious and requiring quarantine in some states. A local large animal vet would very likely be able to answer more specific questions.

Captcha
07-18-2010, 04:08 AM
EPM looks interesting - thanks.

I was thinking of the euthanasia being considered more for financial reasons than medical ones - if the horse was a gelding, or if his bloodlines weren't that great and he hadn't yet competed enough to make a name for himself, he wouldn't be worth much if he was unlikely to ever fully recover. So someone running the barn as a business rather than a horse lover would be unwilling to pay for treatment. Does this make sense, or is it too cynical?

(I posted a few months ago, looking for information on training OT Thoroughbreds, and was told that there was no money in it, as there were so many unwanted horses that they essentially had no value, even thought they were sound - so based on that, I figured that a business wouldn't spend money to treat a horse that wasn't going to be worth anything when they were done.)

kyliesmiley16
07-18-2010, 05:21 AM
You could always look at movies like Dreamer:Inspired by a True Story and Seabiscuit where the horse breaks a leg. Especially Dreamer. Expensive to treat, but I'm not sure about the recovery time. I'd have to watch it again as it's been a while. But it went through quite a bit about recovery :)

GeorgeK
07-18-2010, 08:33 AM
It is illegal for a slaughterhouse to process a horse anymore due to the federal ban on horse slaughter roughly 5 years ago. Therefore it can not be sold for meat, period, unless it was transported across national boundaries, which would also be illegal if it is sick. That's a big part of why the market has dropped out on horses. They are very expensive to maintain and have no significant niche anymore. The excess horses used to go into dog food. Now dog food is made from chicken, pork, beef and lamb, which is why the dog food prices are now double what they were prior to the ban and why meat at the butrcher shops hasn't dropped in price for people despite farmers selling off stock at losing prices because the supply has relatively dropped, having been diverted to pet food. There's more to it than that, but that's the nutshell. Basically, they can't sell it for meat. They might euthanize it if they are having financial problems and it's not a proven winner at the race track.

Kalyke
07-18-2010, 09:32 AM
I was thinking of the euthanasia being considered more for financial reasons than medical ones - if the horse was a gelding, or if his bloodlines weren't that great and he hadn't yet competed enough to make a name for himself, he wouldn't be worth much if he was unlikely to ever fully recover. So someone running the barn as a business rather than a horse lover would be unwilling to pay for treatment. Does this make sense, or is it too cynical?



Kate. Euthanasia is necessary when a broken bone tears through the skin. A compound fracture in a horse is mortal. Financial reasons are there for those horses euthenised because there is less than a compound fracture (an owner who does not want to deal with a broken coffin bone on a losing claimer). Bloodlines don't matter so much when you consider that any and all TBs are related to the "greats" those allowed to breed. Gelding would not matter on one level if Beyer speed numbers say this is a class horse, but no one would geld a TB male unless it could not run without it and was not seen as a talented horse to begin with. (Phar-lap, Funny Cide).

I think it is a bit cynical. Baffert ran (runs) his barn as a business, and yet, he dosen't seem to be breaking any rules when it comes to horses. About the worst I have heard of is a bit if steroids-- in which case they are fined more money than I can imagine. It is like the major leagues. You don't hear of Baffert horses that are on the low running end. He has to have 50 to 100 horses and has only 3-4 "top producing" horses though. The rest are treated well but are no where near the top ranked. I'll look into this.

Kalyke
07-18-2010, 09:41 AM
It is illegal for a slaughterhouse to process a horse anymore due to the federal ban on horse slaughter roughly 5 years ago. Therefore it can not be sold for meat, period, unless it was transported across national boundaries, which would also be illegal if it is sick. That's a big part of why the market has dropped out on horses. They are very expensive to maintain and have no significant niche anymore. The excess horses used to go into dog food. Now dog food is made from chicken, pork, beef and lamb, which is why the dog food prices are now double what they were prior to the ban and why meat at the butrcher shops hasn't dropped in price for people despite farmers selling off stock at losing prices because the supply has relatively dropped, having been diverted to pet food. There's more to it than that, but that's the nutshell. Basically, they can't sell it for meat. They might euthanize it if they are having financial problems and it's not a proven winner at the race track.

However now apparently there are illegal horse slaughter operations near the south western most US. The ASPCA HSA have tracked operations in which a small amount of people kill horses-- the recent collision of horses transported in a double decker cattle car was part of the operation. These horses were "pets" that nice people gave up. Probably telling the sweet little kiddies the horse had been sent out to an uncle's farm in the country.

sheadakota
07-18-2010, 01:58 PM
consider one thing- if this is a racer and has money making potential- the owner would most likely have it insured- so as callous as it sounds he would probably save money by having the horse put down than trying to save it as vet bills can get a little pricey-

as far as EPM goes - I am going through this now with one of my horses-we have been fighting it for three months now and it is not looking good- this is not a short term illness and yes she did have a period where it looked like she was getting better but now she is circling the drain - so to speak- it is very likely we will have to put her down today or in the very near future- if you have any specific questions about EPM feel free to PM me.

Captcha
07-18-2010, 03:35 PM
Sorry about your horse, Sheadakota. We don't really have possums up here, so I was pretty much unaware of the illness. It sounds terrible!

And thanks to everyone else for the responses. This doesn't have to be set in the world of TB racing, just to clarify. If there's a different discipline that would make this more likely to sound plausible, I'd love to hear about that!

jclarkdawe
07-18-2010, 06:55 PM
If you want a good disease that can produce some really weird results, try Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA). And yet the horse might show little or no signs of the disease.

Horses that travel interstate or go to shows are required to have a Coggins test. These are done on an annual or semi-annual basis, whether the horse looks sick or not. The disease is transferred by mosquitoes and other blood sucking insects, needles, and a couple of other processes and is highly contagious.

As Shea says, most horses worth over $100k have insurance on them, although young race horses do not tend to. This means that the insurance company has the final say in what happens here. And sick animals are not sent to slaughter, other than for a few select diseases that are not transferable under any circumstances. EIA horses are not allowed to go to slaughter in Europe, to the best of my knowledge. And there are no legal slaughter houses in the US for horses.

Okay, the vet comes out to the barn to test horses. Normally all the horses will be tested at the same time. Further, normally most of the horses in a barn are insured by the same company. And let's say the insured value of the horses in the barn is a nice, even million dollars. There are twenty horses in the barn.

So the vet sucks blood from each horse, filling out the Coggins paperwork. The vet, upon return to their office, sends the blood to the lab the state uses, whether the lab is run by the state or just a commercial lab that the state uses. Normally you get results back in about two to three weeks.

However, the fun begins when a horse tests positive (doesn't happen very often). The state lab will notify the vet, who will immediately notify the barn owner. And the barn owner will notify the insurance company. And I'm trusting you noticed the word "infectious" in the name of the disease.

This is what is called an "Oh, Shit!!!" moment. And the best part for you of all this is that the disease is only confirmed upon a second positive test.

The vet, and probably the state vet, will go out to the barn immediately to collect a second sample, examine the horse, and advise the barn owner on what the barn owner needs to do to protect the other horses in the barn. (I think I mentioned the word "infectious" here.) And did you notice that the disease is spread by insects. Have you ever seen a bug free barn? The barn owner will be advised there's nothing that the barn owner legally has to do now, but if the second sample comes back positive, this is what must happen to the horse.


(This in New Hampshire's law. It's substantially the same throughout the country.)

CHAPTER Agr 2400 EQUINE INFECTIOUS ANEMIA
Statutory Authority: RSA 436:96
PART Agr 2401 EIA REACTOR QUARANTINE
Agr 2401.01 Quarantine.
(a) An equine found to be a reactor on a second test for equine infectious anemia (EIA) shall be quarantined.
(b) A quarantined equine shall:
(1) Be kept with no other equine;
(2) Not leave the property to which quarantined; and
(3) Be kept a minimum of 1/4 mile from the nearest paddock, pasture or barn having equine species.
(c) A reactor may be kept within 1/4 mile of other equines or equine facility providing the reactor is maintained in a screened-in enclosure.
(d) Notwithstanding (b)(1) above a reactor may be quarantined with:
(1) Another reactor; or
(2) One or more EIA negative equine if the quarantine conditions are maintained for them.
Or you put the horse down. Quickly. Before your barn becomes known as EIA Mary, the sister to Typhoid Mary. And the insurance company? It's sitting on the dilemma of paying for one horse, that might not even be sick, or paying for the whole barn. Guess what it's saying. As I said, this is an "Oh, Shit!!!" moment, and there have been outbreaks of the disease in the US.


So your character could buy the horse for salvage value from the insurance company. ("You mean you'll drive this horse away immediately and give us $500 for a $100k horse. Just drive and we'll trust you for the money.) Speed matters here, because I think I've used the word "infectious" several times now.


Second blood test comes back negative. Two more tests also come back negative. (There will be several tests to confirm what went wrong here.) Your character now has a healthy horse, with no medical treatment required. People will still like her, because if you've seen this disease go through an area, the destruction is impressive.



Anyway, something a bit different.


Best of luck,


Jim Clark-Dawe

Fenika
07-18-2010, 08:28 PM
I don't think you can move a horse that's come up EIA positive except to a nearby quarantine facility. And definitely not across state lines.

Moderate to severe botulism or tetanus. Dummy foals- though usually they wait a few days to see how it goes. EVA.

Note that a fracture doesn't have to be compound to result in euthanasia of an adult horse. They are just too massive to see it through without foundering, and there's a huge cost associated with treatment.

A three inch nail to the back of the hoof is also nasty, but more commonly operated on than a fracture, particularly if radiographs are promising. (showing depth and location of the nail)

jclarkdawe
07-18-2010, 10:22 PM
I don't think you can move a horse that's come up EIA positive except to a nearby quarantine facility. And definitely not across state lines.

Yes and no. The first test being positive does not usually enable the state vet to enforce anything. You need that second one. And we're talking of the space between the first and the second test. This is a period of about twenty-four to forty-eight hours, as the second test goes right to the top of the list of things to be done in the lab. Basically this is the real panic time for everyone, because no one knows. Once you get that second positive, you know what you've got and a lot of the panic goes away.

Standard instructions in this case would be to isolate the potentially infected horse in an environment where insects could be controlled, which is next to impossible in the real world. Especially in an area where there are several stables located closed together, the isolation issue is next to impossible to deal with. And the potential liability for being the owner of the source of the disease is very expensive.

State vets will usually permit the movement of infected livestock in enclosed trailers for limited distances. Or in other words, if I could move the horse fifty miles to an area with minimal horse population in an enclosed trailer, a state vet would most likely go along with it.

Over state lines would require federal authorization, but would be obtainable.

Remember that the other way my scenario plays out is that you've got an expensive horse that may have an infectious disease. Or it may not. If you can isolate the horse, you can avoid putting down a very expensive piece of property. If you can isolate the horse by moving it, you do. Livestock in quarantine upon arrival in this country are frequently moved before the full quarantine period is up, although not being released into the general population. The Long Island facility, for instance, has limited space and livestock is moved to another facility to create space and to reduce costs.

I know of two EIA horses that were transported in this situation. One ended up in a garage of an insurance company's executive house while waiting for the second test result (worked perfectly as the nearest horse was over five miles away other then the fits it caused in the neighborhood -- the insured value of the horse was just a bit south of a million dollars). Both were moved with approval of the state vet. A third was isolated at the farm by building an enclosed screened stall for the horse. All three, unfortunately, were positive on the second test and put down in the end.

By the way, this disease is not especially common in the US or England, although it runs rampant in some other countries.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

C. K. Casner
07-18-2010, 11:11 PM
I've been a horse owner for the last 25 years, so of course I've seen a lot, like Rhino-virus and barbed wire wounds. My first horse was an Arab mare who mysteriously cut into the coronary band of her hind hoof and had to be euthanized since I couldn't afford to take her to ISU and have her hoof bonded and even my vet advised me had it been successful, an infection could kill her or she would never be able to walk again. Since she loved to run with her nose in the air and her tail raised like a banner, I couldn't take that from her. I made the heart-breaking call to have her put down and I was only 17 at the time.
After a few trials and failures and a lot of horse trading, I found an Appaloosa gelding that was just perfect for me. He was my constant companion for 12 years until he had retinal tearing in his eyes that left him blind. ( I guess horses with blue eyes tend to suffer from that) Several of my friends thought I was stupid for keeping him even though he was 'useless'. He wasn't because he depended on me for direction and he still had the will to take me anywhere I wanted, faithfully with no questions asked. Why would I abandon him to strangers or put him down needlessly since he was blind? He developed emphasemia a couple of years later and I finally had to make that heart-breaking decision once again since I couldn't bear to watch him struggle to take a breath. He was 25, so he had had a good long life, the last 14 years with me.
This may help, since blind horses are still good to go with the proper care and a little patience.

Fenika
07-18-2010, 11:55 PM
JCD, that's a more detailed post than I could have hoped to have given :) Also, I'm so glad I'm not a state vet!

Blindness is a good idea, and I can get you more info on what someone else went through with their blind horse. (most the info is already detailed on a horse forum).

Fenika
07-19-2010, 12:11 AM
Ah, found my notes, so now I can talk fractures without fudging through my memory banks ;)

The biggest complication is founder if the horse doesn't start bearing weight within a few days. Founder bad. Antibiotics and or stress can lead to bacterial nasties or ulcers. If the animal isn't going to stand quietly during recovery, you're not going to save the horse.

Young or small horses (under about 400lbs, give or take, depending on the bone) can break their cannon bone, radius, humerus, etc and stand a chance. With the humerus you really have to worry about the radial nerve as that's pretty damn important in holding you up (when you're a quadriped). Olecranon (that's in the elbow region) and scapula made the list of 'repairable in a mature horse' That's not a big list.

Of course, a hairline or stress fracture can usually be dealt with. My mare survived a pretty sizable fracture of her cannon bone (the wing part- which isn't weigh baring and commonly fractured) and healed well, and was just as sound after as before (she had arthritis; still rideable). She was nearly 3 legged lame when I found her during AM feed time, and trust me, you do not want to go out and find your horse barely hobbling toward you with a short, painful stride.

GCHLoki
07-19-2010, 10:29 AM
Others here have provided some great ideas, and have described some situations that make me want to chew my knuckles! For what it's worth, here's a little something from my personal experience:

I had a mare who put her leg through a metal panel of the barn's wall. She would roll in her stall, and I suspect she managed to get her foot caught while doing so. I came home to find my mare with her leg sliced open--hind leg, from above the fetlock cutting down all the way into the hoof. Not only was her leg a mess, but she'd lost a lot of blood.

After having the emergency vet out to save my horse from immediate danger, the conversation turned to what I faced next. The vet spoke to me as if expecting me to put the mare down due to the cost of having her leg repaired. Aside from the cost, there was no guarantee of her being sound. The procedure would cost a couple thousand or more? I can't remember the exact cost of the actual surgery itself, but I do remember that the entire ordeal, including transportation and follow-up care, cost me over six thousand dollars. My horses were not used commercially, so I didn't have them insured.

I remember how surprised--though pleasantly--the vet crew looked when I said I'd pay to have my mare's leg sewn up. An unsound horse can be little more than a pet--a very expensive pet. My mare was about fifteen or sixteen; not exactly old, but not young either. Any logical person, I suppose, would have euthanized the mare, but the only risk was that she might not be sound. In other words, I wouldn't be able to ride her. Other than that, she would likely come out of the surgery being perfectly healthy and happy. An expensive pet.

As it turned out, my mare ended up being perfectly sound after the surgery and recovery, though she had a nasty scar that would prevent her from ever showing again in an arena. She had been a show horse before I got her, but I didn't show, so the scar mattered little.

I don't know if any of this would relate for your fictional barn, but I just thought I'd add my experience as yet more fodder to your story idea melting pot. ;-)

~Colleen

Fenika
07-19-2010, 02:16 PM
Welcome to AW, Colleen and bless you for spending so much on your mare :)

shaldna
07-19-2010, 03:45 PM
This is a tricky one, so I'll give you some facts before answering your question - you need to consider the insurance issues - I used to work in racing, and there was a high wastage of horses. These animals were often put down because the owner can then reclaim the cost on the insurance.

So, if you have a horse who is worth 60,000 and it breaks a leg, sure, you could maybe treat it, take a year off, a lot of rehab, but it'll probably never be completely right again, and that's a big risk most owners aren't willing to take. On the other hand, if the horse has to be destroyed then the insurance company will pay out, and you loose nothing.

Consider that against selling the horse cheap, the owner can't claim off the insurance and so they potentially loose 60,000.

This is why you don't see too many high end ex-racehorses or eventers etc for sale.

At then end of the day in a professional yard, it's all about money with sentiment at the bottom of the list.

That said, I did go down the healing route. I had a horse break his leg, I took the risk and tried the treatments and the time and he's fine now. But it could have very easily gone the other way.

Brutal Mustang
07-19-2010, 04:08 PM
There is severe laminitis, which killed Barbaro and Secretariat. That can have a sudden turn around for the better, but many don't like to deal with it because it requires so much nursing, and puts horses through so much suffering in the meantime. Interesting enough, the 'holistic' barefoot approach to curing this disease often has better results than traditional vets and farriers see. In fact, the barefoot approach has had so much success with laminitis, a team of vets is finally doing some scientific research on it.

shaldna
07-19-2010, 06:56 PM
There is severe laminitis, which killed Barbaro and Secretariat. That can have a sudden turn around for the better, but many don't like to deal with it because it requires so much nursing, and puts horses through so much suffering in the meantime. Interesting enough, the 'holistic' barefoot approach to curing this disease often has better results than traditional vets and farriers see. In fact, the barefoot approach has had so much success with laminitis, a team of vets is finally doing some scientific research on it.


Barefoot reaction to illness and injury was the topic of one of my thesis (the other was tapeworm occurences in stable kept horses) in particular concussive injuries, although I did deal alot with laminitics.

The issue you have with something like laminitis is that it's predominatley dietry related. there is concussive laminities, but it's rarer. this leads to alot of issues regarding quality of life etc, and because the healing time is so long, and the pain issue must be considered, there is also the fact that laminitis is, in the majority of cases, a reoccuring condition. In that a horse who is suceptable to laminitis will be very prone to it.

I see it most in TB's actually, generally because of owners who don't have a clue. People think, incorrectly, that it's only fat ponies who get it, and they don't watch their horses properly, and so, because they aren't expecting laminitis, they often miss the early warning signs, and so it's very advanced before it's caught. this in itself leads to problems.

The same with navicular. But this is much more devastating, and almost always results in the horse being put down.

For the record though, all of my horses are barefoot, and always have been. I do endurance riding and eventing on them and have never had a problem with thier feet. They are all TB's too.

Captcha
07-20-2010, 04:53 AM
Great information, here, guys! Thanks so much.

Brutal Mustang
07-20-2010, 05:56 AM
For the record though, all of my horses are barefoot, and always have been. I do endurance riding and eventing on them and have never had a problem with thier feet. They are all TB's too.

Awesome. I keep my horses barefoot too, and am prepping for my first LD on my sister's barefoot Arabian gelding. Our horses ride just fine on the rocky Colorado roads. I have noticed however I need to be more attentive to the whole health of my horses to keep them working barefoot, than I used to with shoes. Which I like. I swear, shoes mask a lot of shit in a horse's feet/body one simply can't get away with barefoot. Barefoot forces one to focus on completely healing their horse of any pathologies in its feet, or improving its diet. It's like keeping a beautiful natural reef aquarium full of exotic fish versus keeping a freshwater one full of plastic plants and goldfish.

shaldna
07-20-2010, 12:17 PM
Awesome. I keep my horses barefoot too, and am prepping for my first LD on my sister's barefoot Arabian gelding. Our horses ride just fine on the rocky Colorado roads. I have noticed however I need to be more attentive to the whole health of my horses to keep them working barefoot, than I used to with shoes. Which I like. I swear, shoes mask a lot of shit in a horse's feet/body one simply can't get away with barefoot. Barefoot forces one to focus on completely healing their horse of any pathologies in its feet, or improving its diet. It's like keeping a beautiful natural reef aquarium full of exotic fish versus keeping a freshwater one full of plastic plants and goldfish.


Strangely mine aren't like that. They all live out, which for TB's in the Irish climate is pretty good. But they have no choice but to harden up or die. And a winter out toughens them up plenty.

I had farrier training as well, so I can tend to their feet myself. I get the master farrier out twice a year to attend to any issues and to just have a general examination of the feet, but in 10 years I haven't had a foto related problem.

debirlfan
07-22-2010, 08:02 AM
Another possibility...

Let me preface this by saying that I know next to nothing about horses - am only passing along the experience an acquaintance had.

I'm not sure what the symptoms were, but she started having trouble with one of her favorite horses. Eventually the horse was taken to one of the top horse hospitals, and they operated and removed a large calcified "ball" from its stomach. I saw the calcification - it could easily have been mistaken for a primitive duckpin bowling ball - almost perfectly smooth, and just about that size. The working theory was that some time past, the horse had swallowed a small stone and this had progressively built up around it.

The last I heard the horse was doing fine, but I think she said she spent over 10 grand for the surgery/treatment.

shaldna
07-22-2010, 06:02 PM
Another possibility...

Let me preface this by saying that I know next to nothing about horses - am only passing along the experience an acquaintance had.

I'm not sure what the symptoms were, but she started having trouble with one of her favorite horses. Eventually the horse was taken to one of the top horse hospitals, and they operated and removed a large calcified "ball" from its stomach. I saw the calcification - it could easily have been mistaken for a primitive duckpin bowling ball - almost perfectly smooth, and just about that size. The working theory was that some time past, the horse had swallowed a small stone and this had progressively built up around it.

The last I heard the horse was doing fine, but I think she said she spent over 10 grand for the surgery/treatment.


I've heard of this happening, but it's rare and costly.

Fenika
07-26-2010, 12:57 AM
It's not an entirely rare a finding at necropsy, with or without leading to cause of death (ie- many are 'benign' to a point). It is rare but not as uncommon as we think since many or most horses with severe colic don't go to surgery and are instead put down.

They are enteroliths. You can also have fecoliths. I've seen a few after they'd been removed. Particularly the near bowling ball sized ones that are something for the docs to show off around the office.

shaldna
07-26-2010, 12:05 PM
Also, Illness like narcolepsy can be a cause for a horse to be put down, or a low grade wobbler. Neither are desirable for riding horses, and are impossible to insure as well as being potentially very dangerous.

I have a TB who;'s been tested several times for narcolepsy, and each time we get an inconclusive result.