"When is enough, enough?"
I commented on a post in a Facebook group where the poster was asking people if they thought they should put the horse down due to the pain behaviors they were eliciting.
The horse had significant Kissing Spines, was not a candidate for surgery and they did not want to continue asking the horse to tolerate this life if there was nothing more to be done.
Firstly, I think this decision is incredibly difficult and even more so, personal. One that there is rarely a wrong answer to be found.
No one knows their horse like you do and more than anything, I am a firm believer in death with dignity.
But I do think it's work talking about pain responses and how to view them as a whole.
The horse I commented on showed tell tale signs of ulcers, pinched nerves, imbalance in the musculature and I was very suspicious of caudal pain in the hooves.
All of those things combined would cause for full body tension that would put even more pressure on the kissing spines and the nerves that should be flowing freely between them and increase not only reactivity but chronic behavior.
All of those things combined could be completely taken care of and the horse could end up fully functional and happy.
All of those things combined could be completely taken care of and the horse could still be in chronic pain from the kissing spines and the results would be the same.
We don't ever really know unless we treat the whole horse instead of just the diagnosis and try to set up the body for as much success as possible.
And sometimes when we do that, we still lose them, and it's incredibly painful.
I say all this to say, anytime a horse is showing a lameness or behavioral problem, if we look hard enough we can always find something to blame it on, but very rarely is that the ONLY thing and rarely ever the CORE thing that is going on.
Which means there is usually something(s) that we can do to support the body in it's healing and function.
I've seen in with EPM, PSSM, ECVM, Wobblers, Kissing Spines, Polyneuritis as well as fairly catastrophic injuries.
Owners develop almost a cognitive dissonance where they hear the diagnosis and then no longer see the rest of the dysfunction going on in the bodies and if they do, they assume it is not something that can be treated because of the _________.
Humans do this themselves too.
I remember when I was first diagnosed with Lupus. I was so sick, and so weak, and it absolutely got worse for me post diagnosis until I started "training for my disability".
It's not easy. It actually sucks quite badly, but it beats the alternative.
For me, I deeply and firmly believe in the body's ability to heal if given adequate support from all signs.
I've seen some truly miraculous things in the bodies of both humans and horses and while I will always respect a diagnosis that comes in front of me, it is usually the last thing that I am looking at when assessing the body and behavior.
Treat the body and the mind, not the diagnosis.
See what's left after that and then at the very least you might have a slightly clearer lens as to when to say, "enough".