In this photo, you can see that the Choctaw Princess’s coat is long, rough and the color is rusty and much lighter. Some of the color change is due her trying to shed, but the rusty coarse texture is not a good sign. The photo also shows how far under her body she is placing her forefeet. Her cannon bones should be vertical front and rear.
Even though her weight is good, you can also see how the muscling is falling away from her withers and shoulders. What is not obvious is how poor her muscle tone is. When I asked her to pick up a hoof, she had difficulty picking up one fore foot.
When I held the hoof up for a moment, she began to lean and sway. I immediately dropped the hoof, but she went all the way down onto that knee and wobbled there a moment before she could regain her feet. Her toes are getting a bit long in front and wearing unevenly, but I cannot trim them when she is so unstable. However much I want to say that it is not so, I have to admit that staying on her feet is a challenge for the Choctaw Princess.
Just to assure myself that this is not her normal, I looked back through my photos. In mid-November, the photo shows her standing calm and square in good condition. Three months after arriving, her winter coat was dark, sleek and shiny. She was standing square from and rear. Her shoulders and withers were full and rounded. She looks pretty much the same in December and January.
In February, her coat looks lighter in color and rougher in texture. At the time, I put it down to our usual late winter warm spell inspiring her to start shedding. But we are now in March and her coat is even rustier looking and still winter thick. Instead of being sleek and shiny, it is brittle, dull and the hairs lie every which way.
So, her decline in condition is rapid. But, I do seem to have her neurological issues stabilized for the time being. Since hemp is more legal than it used to be and CBD is sold over the counter here in New Mexico, I can admit that I have found it to be a great help in managing horses with neurological issues. I kept the first horse I had with neurological issues going and reasonably comfortable with the help of beet pulp and medicinal marijuana leftovers.
When he failed to respond to his fellow Thoroughbred any better than he responded to me, I called the vet. That is when I learned that while dementia was rare in horses, she thought that this horse had had sufficient trauma to damage his central nervous system to cause boxer’s Parkinson’s. Although he did not appear to be suffering, she realized that it did seem to be time for him to go.
But, he was in good enough condition that she only agreed to put him down because her personal position was that it was better to put a horse down a month early than a day late. I decided not to tell her that it was medical marijuana scraps moderating his pain, dementia and seizures while keeping up his appetite. Explaining why he was in such good condition at that time put both me and the vet in a precarious legal position.
Once his condition started going downhill, like the Choctaw Princess, it was a rapid decline. He began to drop not just weight, but muscle mass and tone. His coat became a rough rusty brown instead of a gleaming sleek black. He started to get disoriented and restless. Especially at night, he would relentlessly pace his pen, whinnying and occasionally running into the wall.
When I finally made the appointment to have him euthanized, he released his last breath with one long sigh and slowly lay down almost as soon as the vet got the needle into his vein. The vet told me that she had never seen a horse die so quickly and with such grace. Even in death, he was elegant. He had chosen to lie on his side with his mane and tail looking windswept and his neck and legs posed as though he was still galloping freely.
CBD’s have helped me manage symptoms in horses that have CNS damage with no apparent side effects. They seem to be giving the Choctaw Princess a few more good days and perhaps an easy out as well. More, it seems time to let others who find themselves in similar situation know they do have some options to make their horses’ last days a little easier on both horse and human.