Horse teeth never stop growing so her lower teeth grow into the gap left by the missing upper molar. They have to be filed down instead, which is quite normal. At first this was every two years, then annually, now it's every six months.
Today the vet discovered that the plug put into to fill the hole in Pippin's upper jaw is loose as are teeth either side and below.
Pippin meanwhile discovered that even after three doses of equine sedative she could flatten the vet against the wall and stop him annoying her teeth with his rasps. This is quite unlike her normal behaviour - she'll put up with most things - and indicates that her teeth are now causing her pain. This is bad news. The pain is bad news and the fact she cannot be treated at home (or risk damage to the vet or to Brian who was holding her) means she must go to the vet hospital for treatment.
But there's more bad news. Underneath her tail and around her personal area are melanomas. About 20 of them, some big, some small, some tiny. This is not unusual in greys and they must be removed while small.
All of this adds up to a Very Large Bill. But (another 'but' - there are so many 'buts') Pippin is now 20 years old. She's a small Welsh pony of little value now except sentimental. I bought her when she was two years old and I was at university. Mum has ridden her for miles around here and we've broken her to harness. H8 and R6 sit on board (looking tiny) for pony rides. She's a bit of a character, boss of our little herd of three ponies and a definite fixture on the farm. Her age is showing and we had to feed her extra pony nuts soaked in water this summer to put weight back on her because she just can't chew up enough grass.
Can we afford to pay a hefty vet's bill? Simple answer: No.
So we are left with a difficult decision and Pippin is left with doses of the equine painkiller Bute to ensure her teeth aren't bothering her. Even that, at 70p per day, isn't an easy annual bill to face.
We have two options:
- Find the money somehow. Pay for transport to get her to the vet (twice) to have her teeth removed and rasped and her melanomas 'harvested' as the vet so charmingly put it. Then spend £500-£1000 on the resulting bills. It's not just a one off either. She will need to visit the vet at least twice a year for teeth rasping and melanoma treatment.
- Do nothing. Except for when the vet is rasping her teeth she's fine. We can give her Bute to ease any toothache and we can keep an eye on the melanomas.
Option one will, inevitably, result in euthanasia but delay it by who knows how long. Option two will ensure she's comfortable. We'll monitor her condition and as soon as she deteriorates, it'll be euthanasia.
Perhaps the time has come to admit defeat on this one. Perhaps the time has come to spend the money instead on a younger schoolmaster that H8 and R6 can learn to ride on before graduating up to Itsy (aka The Most Beautiful Pony in The World).
We have up to a week to decide. Such a difficult decision cannot be rushed.
I'm going to sleep on it.