Thursday, 23 September 2010

A difficult decision

The horse vet has just been. This is a regular occurrence as Pippin, our 13hh grey mare, had to have a tooth removed eight years ago and that has had consequences since.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.


  1. Oh that's a tough one. No advice, just sympathy to offer, and I know whatever choice you make, it will be the right one for you and Pippin.

  2. Oh that's a yukky choice to have to make Mags. Sounds like you know what you have to do, but it is a hard place to be x

  3. What a horrid decision to have to make. Made worse by the fact that you don't - like us - have a bottomless bank account. Long term Bute isn't a good thing either . . .

    I am glad that Itsy is still the well-beloved - we still miss her here.

  4. A very tough decision. My brother and his family have ponies and they have had to make some heartbreaking decisions over the years...I don't envy you, but sending my thoughts and hugs to you. You will make the right one in the end...! x

  5. Oh Mags, what a very tough decision to make. You'll do right by her though. Cx

  6. Sorry to read of this decision for your family Mags. I think I would, reluctantly and sadly, take option 2 but no one else can really know how it affects you all. Very tough xx

  7. Oh, this is horrid, Mags.

    We've had to euthanize two dogs rather than let them suffer. No easy decision, that's for sure.

    BTW, have you chatted with Dr. Patsy? Sometimes second opinions are helpful.

    Hope you can make a comfortable decision — for both you and Pippin.

  8. Oh this is so hard, and only you can decide. But for what it is worth, I think that any animal's welfare must over-ride our human sentimentality, or feelings: I know this to my own shame, for having once kept alive a deformed baby duckling that hatched all wrong; and as it grew, seeing it suffer to the point it drowned itself in mud one day when we were out. I'll never, ever, forget finding that poor creature. I wish you all the best and thankyou for sharing such awful anxiety.

  9. Best wishes to you and your family as you all work your way to a decision. Your words show just how much you love that pony.



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