Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Best at Time Off

He is the best at turnout
Between the bodywork lady and the farrier and the BO, we have worked out a plan of (in)action for Courage. Best guess is that he did something creative and awesome in the pasture which jammed his shoulders up.

Oh Courage.

He's taking a few more days off to get himself re-aligned. To help his muscles relax from their current state of spasm (ouch!), he got some bute today.

Here comes the cookie monster!
I think painkillers are a great thing when you're in pain, but I use them very sparingly, both for myself and for my horses. I guess my thought is just that if something hurts, I want to know about it and not push through it instead of drug accordingly and just keep going. I know that's it's not necessarily a popular mindset and I have to temper it with the fact that I'm pretty young and have limited aches and pains at this point in my life.

That said, my policy on anti-inflammatories is that they can be given post-exercise as needed. I do not bute in order to ride or pop painkillers to run. If I see the need to give a horse bute after exercise, then they get the next day off, provided they are in a situation with enough turnout to stretch their legs. If exercise is causing the horse to need drugs, then the situation needs to change. I don't see pain killers as a regular part of daily life for horses or humans.

That's a big part of the reason that Cuna is retired--given the right injections and enough drugs, he probably is passably sound to jump around 2'6" or so. I just don't believe in doing that to a creature. If drugs have to mask his pain, then shouldn't I be listening to his body instead of my desires?

Too adorable not to share
Is that just just me? Is it because I don't understand the aches and pains of growing older? How does everyone else use bute/banamine/advil/ibuprofen?


  1. I feel the exact same way you do! I rarely ever bute. When I go to a MT that has XC schooling the day before, I will bute him after the schooling, the morning of the show, and after the show. However, I never give him more than one scoop (less than recommended dose for his size) and I always check to make sure he is sound beforehand. Normally it's just for his back - it's very sensitive! After the show he gets 2-3 days to recuperate.

    Aside from that, if he's in pain from a shoe or something of the sort, he may get bute if it's bad, but he usually just gets time off.

  2. I will probably get slammed by all your readers for my response but ill state it anyways.

    I always want my horse to feel comfortable, as I myself always want to feel comfortable. By no means am I a pill popper 24/7 for myself or my horses but I take Advil when I have a headache, body ache, muscle soreness, whatev it might be. If I have joint soreness I pop some ibuprofen. Just because I have a sore knee doesn't mean something is wrong that I figure out... I just want the ache to go away. My mindset is the same for my horses. I have no qualms about giving them a cocktail after a long day at a show. I would never want them to be uncomfortable because they have a normal ache from whatever they had done that day. I'm 26 and I notice a huge difference in the aging of my body and the stiffness I feel when I wake up. I don't automatically pop pills because of it but I'm also not going to give up being active bc of it.

    I will note that I would NEVER EVER give medication to mask an injury to push my horse to do something that isn't right for her. If she's hurt she's off- no question asked. But just like I would take meds if I broke my arm Id give meds to my horse with an injury.

    Preventative, maintenance, and to keep comfortable is my idea.

  3. I'm all about painkillers when something hurts, but I agree 100% that they should not be used in order to be able to do something. They should be used along with rest so the horse (or us!) can recuperate.

  4. I take a bit of a different approach for my horses than I do myself. I will take medicine to feel better (headache, sore knee, cold, etc.) so that I can do the things I want (ride) or need to (work). I'm a horribly miserable sick person and have -1 pain tolerance. Over the counter stuff doesn't give me a ton of pause.

    However, I am much more careful with my horse: he can't tell me if he's just sore or if it's more serious. I tend to air on the lesser scale for horses, if he's hurting, I'll get him something, but we're not going to work the next day. However, I don't mind injections as much as others seem to: I don't see a problem with regular (once or twice a year) hock or back injections to keep a horse in work. I think that if that's all they need, especially if they are older, that's not too bad. JMO

  5. I feel the same as you. I know with my running, pushing through just never works for me and I end up more sore/losing more time overall. My horses get the same treatment. A bit of time off really isn't a big deal. Hope Courage is feeling better soon!

  6. I'm not a fan of painkillers either. I've never used them, and probably never will. I would rather know I or my horses is in pain than mask it and risk either of us getting more hurt because we don't feel we are injured.

  7. As you’ve found, there is a world of difference between treating an short-term issue (Courage) and managing chronic conditions (Cuna).
    While I thought I agreed with the theory of retiring an unsound horse so they don't have to stay on drugs, when it was my turn to make that call, I couldn’t fail to do what helps him the most, even if it was contrary to what I believed.
    We tried retirement, we tried barefoot, we tried it all. In the end, everyone who treats my senior gelding agrees - he is most sound with a daily low dose of bute that allows him to be comfortable in very light work. It’s the right balance for his multiple causes of unsoundness, and lets him continue to be a horse enjoying pasture time with buddies.
    I see my job as keeping him happy and healthy for as long as those two things are simultaneously possible, and I won’t hesitate to make use of every resource available to me in that effort.

  8. I agree and use painkillers sparingly for myself and my horse. I hate being on ANY kind of meds. However, my opinion changes with issues of aging and certain conditions that are treatable with modern medication or medical intervention. Things do start to go as horses age and if someone is going to make the decision to keep their horse around, they’re responsible for their comfort. Comfort is different than a desire for a horse to do something they may/may not be capable of doing with medication. For example, not injecting sore joints or giving a gram of anti-inflammatories every day when modern medicine has created compounds that can make the animal more comfortable and asking the horse to just deal with being old and uncomfortable is like telling an arthritic old person that although there are great arthritis meds out there that could making living easier and they can’t have them. I think masking issues is very very bad and unethical, I think using modern medicines and techniques to improve quality of life and comfort are very very good.

    1. I completely agree with this, especially as an owner of an older horse!

  9. I agree with you. I don't take painkillers for myself unless I am MISERABLE (mostly for toothaches or a headache that is making me feel sick). But like you said, I am also young and really have minimal aches and pains anyway. So, easy for me to say. I follow the same guidelines for the horse. I have given bute when he punctured his leg and it swelled up, and when he had a swollen eye. And on occasion I have given him bute after a hard cross country school. But if was ever in a situation where he needed constant meds to stay comfy, I would re-evaluate his situation. And I am not talking about things like Legend or Adequen - I am taking painkillers.

  10. I don't agree with masking the pain/pushing through an injury for my horse but I don't see anything wrong with giving my horse something if they are sore or after a hard show- just like I like to have a drink after a long day at the show to relax ;)

    I on the other hand ride all the time with aches and pains... my back has always been an issue but I am not about to stop doing what I love and complain- I have learned to deal with it ;) I know probably not the smartest idea but oh well ha!

  11. Agree with most posters. A little bute to help swelling and being uncomfortable is OK. Long term and using it to mask pain is another issue.

  12. Pain reminds us and animals we have limits. Taking anti-inflammatory (NSAID) meds before or right after a hard workout can actually decrease the damage done. Also at some point, the 'I don't like taking stuff' gets replaces with 'holy crap this pains affecting my daily life/ riding, make it tolerable'. I take limited NSAIDS because I don't stomach them well, but now have no qualms pregaming with Tyl or Motrin as tolerated so that I can actually move in the saddle. I don't take stronger because its a quick slope to dependency on narcotic pain meds, which frankly don't really treat pain that well... (but I won't get on that soap-box now)

    I agree with most, giving horses temp pain meds is one thing, doping to keep running a horse at a higher level then they can tolerate is bad.

  13. My general rule of thumb with horses is that if I have to give him a painkiller, I shouldn't be on him, at least until his course of painkillers is done (I generally use injectable NSAIDs over a course of 3-5 days depending on how bad the pain/inflammation is). In some cases exercise helps for the injury - such as post-gelding surgery or in a case of muscle stiffness, when I'll do some hand-walking or light lungeing as well as the usual 24/7 turnout. But mostly, when they're on a course of painkillers, I don't exercise them.
    Of course, my oldest horse is only 12, so with older horses it may be different. And I am pretty quick to medicate; most of the time if one of the horses is lame, I'll give them a shot and time off - and only get back on once the meds have worn off and the lameness has cleared up. Not doing cross-country or having older horses, though, my situation could be different.
    I'm not as kind to myself. If the pain doesn't interfere, I ignore it and hope that it'll go away. If it interferes with riding, I take an aspirin and keep on. But I'm only a teen so there hasn't been an awful lot of wear and tear ;-)


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