How do you know when to let go

After the hell that was last week I got in touch with the MSPCA. They gave me a few options. I could:
1. Try to figure out what was wrong with him, and keep him
2. Write up an ad, they would put it on their website, and he would stay with me until he found another adopter
3. I could return him to the MSPCA, and if he couldn't get adopted/fostered out/treated they would have to euthanize him

I went up to the barn the day after and Finn was trotting and cantering around, rearing up with one of his buddies, and playing halter tag. When he saw me pull up to the barn, he stopped, and trotted over to the fence from the other side of the paddock, ready to come in. He licked my jacket, pulled the zipper down, and searched my pocket for the treat he knew was there. As I was leading him in he put his chin on my shoulder and nuzzled into my neck. So, of course, I called the vet. The vet was out yesterday and spent 3 hours with us. First she watched him trot in both directions on the lunge. She noticed a little off-ness in the right front, which I wasn't noticing. Then vet's assistant trotted him out on pavement, and lunged him in the driveway. She still noticed the slight off-ness, now in both fronts.  She flexed his fronts, and it was still very slight. She decided to do a heel block on right front. He lunged 100% after heel block, and I definitely noticed an improvement in his stride after the block, which also made me noticed the bit of hesitation on the other side. It wasn't like he was lame, just a bit short strided, a little more careful to put his hoof down. Then we flexed the hinds, and she said eventually (years down the road) he would need his hocks done, but it wasn't a concern now. She checked his back, and he was SORE. Basically from his withers to his hips. She believes it's muscle related, and says it seems like he pulled something in the paddock, or, from all the recent training and learning to move and use himself correctly probably for the first time in his life he is most likely sore from that too. Before doing anything to his back she wanted to take x-ray's of his fronts. His x-rays look fantastic, and new farrier has made such drastic improvements in his hooves and angles. His soles have also increased a ton in thickness. Vet believes he is exhibiting a bit of heel soreness because his toe is still a bit long, and she wants farrier to take off even more toe, and set the shoe/packing back further on the heel, which should make him more comfortable. Farrier and vet are going to work together to get his fronts even better. Vet then recommended back injections, while he was sedated, and I was on board. Her assistant prepped him, and doped him up a bit more. Vet started trying to inject him and Finn said NO in a big way, popping up, kicking out, swishing his tail, and bending all her needles. His back started twitching. Unfortunately he is so back sore and tight right now that we are going to have to wait to do the injections. She put him on high doses of Robaxin and an NSAID for 10 days, she will come back next week for acupuncture, and then the following week we will try the injections again.
      She does not think there is anything terribly wrong with him, other than some super tight muscles that need some help. She feels that all of his behavioral issues are absolutely stemming from his back pain. She also recommended keeping his BOT sheet on at night, lots of long and low trot work this week, and treating for ulcers again. We also pulled blood for lyme. If nothing comes from this course of action, then she will refer me to the vet hospital for a bone scan. On a very positive note vet said that after we get his back muscles strengthened and comfortable, she sees no reason at all as to why he couldn't jump again, as his hooves look great.

I know I said that I was done, and I couldn't do it anymore. And I really couldn't. I am so fed up, but for some reason when the MSPCA said euthanasia, I just couldn't. Not after seeing him run around the paddock with his buddies. He's just not there yet, and neither am I.


Between a rock and a hard place

Things were going okay, until they weren't...As it usually is with horses, or at least my horse. Trainer was working Finn five days a week, and I was lessoning one. As is posted in my last post, he has had a bit of an attitude, but nothing that's been unmanageable, just an "eh, I really don't want to work today". When I moved Finn back to his barn, and put him into training, in my head I had made the decision that if he comes up weirdly lame again I really needed to find a horse that would stay sound for more than a month at a time. Then, yesterday, I get this email from her:

Hey, I'm thinking Finn may need the chiro he was really bad yesterday and today. He is fine when I am not asking him for anything but as soon as I ask him to step bigger or go into shoulder in etc.... He slows down and gets all choppy and when I push at him he squeals again and tries to be naughty:( Yesterday I got off to lunge him first and he was just an ass so we worked on being a good boy. But today when I got on he was good for like 5 min and then was like nope not going. So when I got off his back was sore mid back on both sides of his spine. Also.... His poll was really tight to the point where every time I touched him up there he freaked out??? So I think he needs a chiro appt. if you work him tomorrow I would lunge him first or when you get on don't ask for a whole lot! It's so frustrating. I feel like we take 3 steps forward, and 5 steps back.

My reply:

Hey, welcome to the past two years of having Finn. It is ALWAYS 2 steps forward, 5 back. I looked at my calendar and I had the chiro out September 9th, just over a month ago. I'm not sure if at this point I should just get the vet out. Honestly, I don't know what to do with him anymore. He is not fun, and I'm sick of trying to figure out the next thing wrong with him....It's like we go a month- 6 weeks with him being okay, and then it's another issue. He has been lame more than he's been sound in the past two years. I will most likely be up there tomorrow in the early afternoon. If things continue like this I think he might be headed back to the MSPCA. I don't feel like we ask a whole lot of him, and it just doesn't seem like he can handle it.

Her reply:

Yeah I totally agree, it's not like we are asking him to do anything really hard! I don't know how you have done it for two years!!! Bless you! I would think the next step should be the vet if that is a direction you want to go in. I just don't think something is right with him he shouldn't be so sensitive to everything you know? Maybe he has some sort of arthritis in his back which makes him so sensitive to every little change?? Who knows. You can check him out tomorrow and see what you think. Please please wear your helmet if you lunge him first!! He was really bad!!!! Yesterday at one point he tried to charge me because he didn't want to walk off after I changed direction. So please just be careful.

I can't do it anymore. I just can't.

If this was a horse I have had for 10 years, if he was 10 years older, I would have no problem with the maintenance, with everything. But, Finn is 8, I have had him for 2 years, we haven't done a single thing together, and he has been off more than he has been sound. And it's not like my trainer is asking him for a whole lot....He is asked to trot around for 20ish minutes (with walk breaks), and a 20m canter circle in each direction-- and he will not stay sound. I have seen ALL the vets, ALL the chiropractors, injected, x-rayed, gave time off, tried different supplements, corrective shod him, treated for lyme, treated for ulcers. I had his saddle fit checked, with thermographic imaging last week. I have spent a little over $25,000 in medical treatment in two years on a horse I adopted for $1,000, not including board, supplements, shoeing, chiro, etc. The next step would be trailering him to a clinic and getting him a bone scan, as I feel he has a multitude of issues that are beyond even the best local specialists. But honestly, I just can't do it anymore. I understand that horses require maintenance and big money, but this is ridiculous. I have done everything I can, and now I cannot. I can't keep throwing money at this animal who is miserable and giving me nothing back. I feel extraordinarily guilty and depressed about this whole situation and I just have no idea what to do.


Plugging Along

Still alive... Haven't been riding much, but trainer has been riding five days a week. Man your riding really suffers when you only ride once a week. Finn's also pulled two shoes this past week. He's literally walking out of them and thankfully not damaging his hooves. I swear he's just trying to get out of work. Finn's had a major attitude problem lately. Trainer seems to think it's just a phase. He's never been in this much work probably since he left the track five years ago. He is cranky and stubborn and not really enjoying his job very much. Boo. :( He is very sound though, really for the first time since I've had him! The dressage saddle search continues. The saddle fitter let me try a County Connection that according to her thermographic camera fit him perfectly. It was insanely comfortable! My trainer rode him the night I got the saddle and he took off bucking. She thought it was just an attitude thing, and not bad saddle fit. The next day I hopped on him for my lesson and he felt like he was going to explode the second I got on him. I got off, and trainer hopped off. Took a short video of her riding (see below), and he would not track up and lift his back. Trainer thinks that because he is short backed, I'm going to have a difficult time finding a dressage saddle that fits him and me comfortably. Luckily I still have my jumping saddle that's a perfect fit. In the rides I've had on him lately he's mostly been shaking my confidence with some unpredictability, especially in the canter. The barn's getting a 2'6 packer soon that I'm thinking of part-leasing to build my confidence while trainer continues to work with Finn. Me and Finn are also signed up for the barn's schooling show (walk trot classes) coming up on October, 27th....guess I should start riding more!!