What to do when our older heart horses are slowing down. It's a dilemma.
On the one hand, we know if they don't use it, they'll lose it. So, I had my farrier put shoes on Cowboy this year so that I could work to keep him going. The year started out great. His engine was revved up and, it appeared, with the help of Cosequin ASU and a little Bute before a ride, he was as good as new.
But mid-way through summer, the umph went out of him. I began to wonder how much time I had left. I blogged about it. I was given a suggestion to introduce Exioxx, an anti-inflammatory you can give safely every day.
I did some research and filed that suggestion away.
Fast forward to last Tuesday: I went on a bareback ride with Cowboy at the state park, and he did pretty well. The next day, I had a ride scheduled at Palisades Park--more steepness--water crossing--but a park Cowboy has rode a million times, and one that he is quite comfortable leading through. (Which I needed because the other two horses didn't have the experience there.)
From the start of the ride, he didn't seem like he was tracking right with his hips. I had my friends look at him from behind, and they couldn't see it, but I could feel it here and there. I'm used to a little of that, especially when a ride starts out and they're not paying attention, but this felt different. As we rode, it got better, and I started thinking he just needed to warm up, but when I hit some steep descents, you could see it. I got off and walked him down those.
Looking back, I attribute that to some residual soreness from the day before.
So, my third ride, yesterday--I opted to leave him back and take Leah.
That ride was pretty flat--and in retrospect, I should have given Cowboy Wednesday off to recuperate and have taken him on this Thursday ride.
But in any case, I didn't. I took Leah--who also has a tough time tracking with her hind end at times. Oddly enough, she has problems in the exact same hip that Cowboy does, even though she's only 14. (She will probably also benefit from Equioxx.) Off the point just a bit here, but I think it's common for horses to have issues in their back right hips, if they're going to have hip problems at all. I've seen many who do--for whatever reason.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand, this is tough because Cowboy still has a heart for the trail--and he needs to keep moving. His spirit has the strength of a ten year old in his prime. His body, not so much.
I have been at a crossroad for some time now, so I scheduled an appointment for this Thursday with the veterinarian to assess him for Equioxx.
If I have to be honest, the Cosequin doesn't seem to be doing anything for him anymore, and it's more expensive--or at least, equally expensive, as the RX. (CosASU = 80 days for $150) I can get a 180 day supply of Equioxx from Allivet for $213-$223. It works out to $1.18 per day. I would also need to have him evaluated by my vet every 12 months.
Will it drastically change his situation? I hope so. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could get another few years out on the trail with Cowboy? Live the dream, just a little more?
Wish us luck.