Animal Updates

the problem with pops

Carol  ·  Jun. 19, 2011


he has us all tied up into knots.

quite often when i get all mixed up about an animal..i list the facts as i see them, my assumptions based on the facts that i know, and then the positives, the negatives, the pro's and the cons of where we now and where we are trying to go, and what it will take to get there and finally all possible outcomes.

so here we go...


pops lived alone in a field without any basic foot or medical care for at least 10 years but maybe more.
pops is a VERY old horse..late twenties or early thirties.
his feet over grew to the point where they curled up to his knees, this interferred with his mobility and his ability to lay down.
his deformed feet affected his muscles his tendons, and deformed his his entire muscle and skeletal systems, this caused him even more discomfort and decreased his mobility more.

My Assumptions based on the facts that I know.

pops was probably in constant discomfort and pain for many long years.
pops was very lonely for any kind of company.
pops probably felt that his life was unhappy due to unending isolation and loneliness, inability to move very well and long term and constant pain.

The Hope
our hope is to restore pops feet and his muscles and skeletal systems back into some kind of normality where his can move freely with minimal pain.

What we have accomplished to date...after about 4 months of constant care
his back is straighter. his hips and butt do not bow as much as they did. his body is straightening and lengthing out into a more normal horse shape.
his back hooves are finally looking like normal feet except they are still too long but at least he is walking on them now properly.
his left front hoof still has a curve in it and he is walking on his canon bone which is not good.
his right front hoof has been so very painful that we gave him an 8 week break in trimming buit then it went nutz and insanely overgrew downwards pushing his pastern bones forward. he was in far less pain but his foot was again deforming even more.

emotionally..pops is happy..he is so attached to all of us and the other animals here. he has put on weight, he likes to have someone around him to brush him and hug him and stand with him. he likes to be near the other horses and dixie is his most special friend...even when she is down in the bottom filed, she comes up periodically to stand with him at his gate.
pops is able to go out into the field for brief periods and graze every day and he really enjoys this especially if he can go where the other horses are spending the day.

so the pro's here are...

in many ways, pop is slowly getting better. he can move more, he can walk short distances, he can lay down and get up again when his feet hurt or he just feels tired or lazy. pops really seems to enjoy both the human and other animals around him and the gentle and loving care that he gets.

the cons...
pops is in daily discomfort...some days not too bad..other days i think are pretty horrible. we now know he can't have pain breaks from trimming his feet because we just lose too much ground in re-shaping his feet.

there are only two possible outcomes to this...
eventually pops will be walking in our fields relatively comfortably with relatively normal shaped feet.
eventually we will determine that his level of painful burden is far too great and he will be euthanized

the problem with pops is...i don't have that god damn necessary crystal ball

he is a very old horse and the overall damage from profound neglect to his body and feet is extreme. rehabbing him physically may take too long and he may not have enough time left in his lifespan to ever really live normally and relatively pain-free.
the rehabbing itself...the now obviously needed frequent painful foot trims are going to have to continue hurts him..his feet are sore and tender constantly. and it will continue to be necessary for many, many, many more weeks without really knowing if we can in fact restore to pops decent and pain fee feet.

it sucks..we have brought him this far...but how far can pops actually go?

and we do not have the answer to this...we simply do not know.

love you pops.

Pops photos

When he first arrived, day 1: his feet severely overgrown and in pain


After his first couple of trims he was finally able to lay down for the first time in many many years.



Pops in his stall looking out at his new home



Pops 3 months after arrival and many foot trims later looking and feeling better


This is a photo a few weeks ago you can't see it in this still shot but this was the first time I (Jenn) saw his doing a very fast walk (which for him is a like a trot). He was moving pretty quick.


Pops enjoying a grooming by saints volunteer carly




He sure enjoyed the grooming I gave him yesterday(see picture).What a nice boy! I only pray he'll make a full recovery and will be adopted in to a happy home(Saints or elsewhere).


I don't know anything about horses, but what if you compromised on the hoof trims? How about every 10 days to two weeks? Yes, they'll be more overgrown than weekly trims, but perhaps the extra days will give him a bit of a breather.

Maybe Pops needs an aggressive chronic pain management consult. Perhaps equine Nexium/Prilosec to go with the Bute. Other ideas are an equine acupuncture consult, a nerve block of some sort, topical analgesia/"freezing" on his feet, etc. Or a combination of treatments...

Cause he sure doesn't act like an animal that's done living. He sure is a changed horse; you can see it in the pictures. The first couple of shots, he looks totally defeated. The last pics show an alert horse clearly engaged in life. He's finally having a high old time, and not gonna give in to those nasty feet.

I think he'll let you know when he's done.

Great work Carol and other angels at Saints!!

Nicole N

Pops showed so much spirit today. He was pissed right off that we weren't letting him out of his stall. He wanted to be with the others grazing in the fields and we were all trying to get him to lay low and let his poor feet have a break.

nope... Pops wanted out, whinnying, bumping his head into me and just wasn't happy until Mo checked with Carol and got the OK. He boogied pretty quick through that field to get closer to his horse buddies. No... Pops didn't look like he was giving up to me, I saw more spirit today than I'd seen in him yet.


Carol, Re: your knee: My roommate is on a topical anti-inflammatory - "Pennsaid" that the doctor gave her to try for bursitis in her hip. It's a liquid in bottles- and you apply so many drops 3 or 4X a day. She said it really has helped amazingly - and she can't take anti-inflammatory pills either due to stomach upset. You probably know about this treatment for osteoarthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, etc. Anyway, maybe you could try it? Just a thought... Re Pops: I agree with the rest of the comments - I think the pros outweigh the cons right now,- and thank you for laying it all out so clearly for the rest of us to try to understand your thoughts, concerns, and dilemmas re his care. You have done an amazing job! Aso, I'm curious; what happened with the people interested in Missy today?


hi shannon...he gets bute twice a day since we started. i am cursing the drug company for discontinuing quatrisol tho....that would have been the very best choice for him. he may end up with ulcers from long term bute use.


He is looking so much happier! He may already be on something, but if not, is there any way that he can have daily analgesia until the worst of the reshaping is over? He is such a lucky boy!


I gotta agree with what everyone else has said. You are describing a horse who, for what may be the first time in his life, has friends and family. It seems to me he is communicating loud and clear that is what matters. Everyone involved with SAINTS has given him a sense of worth and self-esteem. It sounds like Pops want to live his new life to the fullest.

Cheryl Stef

He will have good days and then fall back and have bad days but i am sure they far out way any of the days he had before he came to saints. He now has friends and family that will care for him. It is not yet his time. I am sure he will let you know when it is not fun for him anymore.

Pam Evans

pain is no stranger to Pops ..sadly.
If he is seeking out company and giving signs of enjoyment then he doesnt sound to me either , like he is giving up.
watch his behaviour and let him tell you whether he thinks the pain is worth it.


wow carol...the difference from day 1 to now is staggering...he looks like a different he still eating and drinking and seeking out others???? doesn't sound like a horse that is giving up...

Mark Del

Neither one of us can imagine what kind of people do these things. Or rather do NOT do ANYthing to such beautiful animals.
We just want to say, "THANK YOU!" for being there for ole Pops! May his future years be pain free and joyful now that he has found proper care.

King, Princess Mollydawg & Duchess Sammy's mom & dad