Tips/treatments: horse not getting up well anymore

My retired jumper just turned 25 and is in pretty good shape (all his own teeth, no major injuries from his early years, great weight and appetite) but he does have Cushings/IR (well controlled with Prascend, diet, and a muzzle). However, he’s really working to get up-- his hind end just isn’t strong enough to push himself up or his hocks are going (?). He kind of has to “rock and shove” to get on his feet. He loves to lie down or roll, too.

He was started on Equioxx in April and seems very content otherwise. Is there anything else I can be doing for him supplement-wise or ? He is still serviceably sound, though we’ve battled laminitis twice over the last 3 years as we tried to sort out his IR issues. I really can’t ride him at home, but would more exercise help his hind end? My vet really didn’t have much to offer, but I figured COTH might have some advice or insights that could help.

He is on 24/7 access to paddock or pasture, with stall access at night and a sand pit during the day.

If a horse has reached the point he can no longer stand up then, sadly, it is time to start thinking about his final days. Their whole being is designed around being able to move easily and fast.

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I am well aware of that Willesdon. I am simply asking if there are other ideas out there to help him be more capable until that day.

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I had to inject my old girl’s SI yearly until I lost her. I’d talk with your vet about whether hock injections are viable based on whether x-rays show sufficient joint space left.

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Do you have any reason to think his issue might be neurological? Specifically I’m thinking about cervical arthritis. If CA was causing the hind end weakness, he might get some improvement from injections. They helped my gelding for a well over a year.

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Is he shod behind? If not, I wonder if shoes might give him more traction. Also-maybe walking him over cavaletti to get his stifles stronger???

How much Equioxx is he getting? He’s retired and not showing (so no fear of a bad drug test) and he’s an old guy at this point (minimal long term worries) so I wouldn’t be afraid to up the dose of his NSAID for a while and see if that helps. I know the recommended dose is 57 mg, but I know we have had a few horses (extra large sized or just need a little extra) that were on 114 mg (2 tabs Equioxx or 1/2 tab of the 227 Previcox which is the dog label).

Edit for another thought:
Does he struggle in his stall or just in the paddock? I just noticed you said a sand pit, if the sand is loose it may not be providing enough support and traction for him.

I say a lot of this from currently having a 28 year old retired horse that has shivers, so a known hind end problem. He has a harder time getting up in the paddock (sits for a minute and then pushes up) when he decides to roll in very dry, loose, sandy areas, versus if he rolls in the grass where the ground is firm.

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My 35 year old pony rescue was alive alert hungry and spry as all could be until his last several months. On full turnout. I would find him in the early morning down. In the couple of weeks before his end I would just put a halter on him stand away and with a heave ho help him up. Then he’d scramble off to make old man mischief. I had the vet out and injected both arthritic stifles in a Hail Mary attempt. Did not work. In his last days I was having my so wrap a tow strap around his hiney and pull while I pulled on the lead rope. Up he’d jump to eagerly eat his food and run around. I euthanized him that week. It’s so terrible to let them go when they’re bright and hungry but their body is broken. Not sure your horse is at that point but I’m so sorry and hope you find a good answer.

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If your vet “really didn’t have much to offer”, that might be their roundabout way of telling you there isn’t any more to be done. Did you ask your vet if euthanasia should be considered at this point? If not, I would talk with them and get their response. Personally I would rather put down my horse when he’s having a relatively good day in fine weather and a full tummy vs finding him downed or having gravely injured himself while struggling to get up. Less agonizing for both of you that way.

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He seems to have more difficulty when it’s cold and damp (which has been all winter and spring here in SW WA) both in his stall and in the pasture. So far, vet and I feel like he’s ok at this point, but we are watching closely. I’ll ask about upping his Equioxx. She indicated that hock injections weren’t really indicated (or helpful) if Equioxx was on board.

just in case I wasn’t clear, when I asked about cervical arthritis, the injections I had done were in the facets in his neck. Edited to add - the arthritis could cause spinal compression. Of little interest probably to anyone but me: I have lower back arthritis issues and nerve impingement. It has caused my legs to feel weak/crampy/achy depending on the moment and action involved. So I now can relate a bit to the horse issue…

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How is he for trimming/shoeing?

With our old horse with a two year stifle injury, that he could not hardly stand to get his hind feet trimmed was when farrier, vet and myself agreed it was about time.
We tried several, trimming with him standing leaning on the hay stack, pre-medicating, he still was not getting up or down without obvious trouble and pain and barely would stand with a foot up to trim.

Sorry if that is where you are now.

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@Bluey he is great for the farrier, no signs of discomfort.

He just seems a bit weak behind. I haven’t researched it but could Cushings contribute to hind end weakness? He just turned 25, he’s a Paint (really half TB), and full of life— happy, healthy and interested in everything still. Just trying to keep him around as long as he lets us.

Maybe a second opinion, another vet’s eyes on him, sounds like maybe there is something new going on and if so, if found, it could be remedied with medication or other?

Our Cushing’s horse stayed sound until the end, he was crashing because his system’s hormones were not supporting function properly at the end, he was a hangdog, very sick looking horse when we let him go and it came in fast.
Blood work results were so bad, lab said their machines were not even reading so far out.

Maybe a good neurological assessment could help?
After some time, may have more symptoms to help decide what is going on there.

One of the side effects of cushings is muscle waste and there isn’t much you can do about it.

You could try some rehab and hind end in hand work to try and keep what muscle is there.

Personally, I’d up the meds and see if it helps as it could be painful joints no longer cooperating and muscle loss due to not moving as much could be contributing.

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Check for Lyme. My gelding got it this spring. He had serious trouble getting up. Like his whole hind end just didn’t work. Scared the crap out of me since he’s 22 and I thought maybe it was the end.

Nope. 30 days of drugs and he’s back to his old self.

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Why? For his benefit or yours?

Have a proper neuro exam done on him, then reassess your desire to “keep him around as long as he lets us.”

If he has neck arthritis/compression, he may be a candidate for injections that will help him regain some control of his hind end. Or, he may not, in which case he’s going to get worse, more uncomfortable, and more frightened about his inability to get up safely.

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Not sure assuming outright the OP is being heartless is a fair statement?
Is not for us to call someone out on how we perceive how they manage their horse they are asking for advice in a sad situation as end of life is.

Sure, the “better too soon than a minute too late, when a horse is needlessly suffering” is important advice, but maybe should not be accusatory.

The poster seems to think horse is maybe there now, maybe not yet, aware and trying her best, the situation just developing, looking for other’s take with the information at hand.

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No statement made. Questions asked. Questions that in these times we don’t always think to ask ourselves.

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Be sure to verify with your vet if injections are okay since your horse has had laminitis. I was told that it is not an option with a horse that has or had laminitis.

You might consider switching from Equioxx to a daily dose of Bute if that would work better.

If you horse is still happy and keeping a good weight on don’t feel bad for letting him have a few more years. Talk with your vet on what other options you might try but please verify about the injections.

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