When we bought Irish she was suffering from mild arthritis. She spent the last six years with us. She got worse as she got older but she was only in her teens. I think she had been in an accident whilst being driven, causing the arthritis in her legs and back.
She was not very good on roads but she was great on the beach and in the first few years she would often buck when she thought it was time to canter. She loved a good run, even when her legs stopped her going as fast as she wanted to go she still tried to keep up with the others. Irish was impossible to stop when she wanted to go. She didn't steer too good either, but that was all part of the fun.
She was the sweetest horse I have ever had the pleasure to know, she would not hurt anyone and was often bullied in the field by the other horses. Even towards the end, if she wanted to have a canter she would whether her rider wanted to or not! She was so loving and kind and willing to please humans. She spent most of the winter stabled because she did not like the cold. She laid down a lot to rest her legs even if that meant she laid in the wet mud in the field. She liked staying in. She used to take herself to bed every night.
I rode her last, I took her on a walking ride, she didn't give me any impression that there was something wrong, her legs were stiff but they always were. When we got home I put her in the stable to feed her but she wouldn't eat her feed. After watching her for a while we realised she couldn't stretch her neck down to reach the food. We decided to give her a chance, thinking she had just cracked her neck in the stable at night. We stood her food and water on barrels so she didn't have to put her head down. She stayed in the stable for a few days, we kept her warm and dry on large beds of straw, but she would not lay down even at night. So as she stood all day on her already painful legs she quickly got worse. She was having bute twice a day but it did nothing. Then on the Sunday she stood leaning on the stable wall, she was trying to sit on the ledge to take the weight off her legs. When it came to teatime, we moved her over to her night stable. I have never seen a horse in such pain before. Her back legs wouldn't move, it took her ten minutes to make the trip that usually took her about thirty seconds. I thought she would collapse, she came close a few times. But she made it into bed.
Next morning there was no change, so we left her in her warm stable and ordered a man to come and send her to Heaven. I went in to her to say goodbye. She just stood looking at me with her kind eyes. It was heartbreaking. She had plenty of treats that day, she never lost her ablity to eat. I told her she was going to see Matilda, I said it would all be over very soon and she must not be frightened, the pain would stop, she could buck and jump again, she hadn't been able to do that in a while. When the man came for her she stood quiet for him in the stable, then she fell asleep forever.