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View Full Version : how to euthanize a horse who is overall healthy..but unwanted



El Tovar
Jul. 23, 2008, 12:14 AM
This is very very very hard for me to even type. But, a few months ago, I posted about 2 dude ranch horses I managed for the last 5 years, both with chronic low grade lamenesses that make them unable to comfortably do their jobs in the mountains carrying dudes. I have been threatened with a time period to get rid of these 2 horses. One month. I placed them in a "GREAT" home and interviewed the people etc...talked to their refs etc....had a gut feeling to go check them and bring the trailer....they were starving to death. I got them back, put all their weight back on and now the owner of the ranch decided they will NOT pay to retire them or keep them on any joint stuff-will not even pay for a pasture board situation with me taking basic care of them.

I am so stressed. The horse market is worthless, rescues are full and are for horses in need of true rescueing...not horses of people with money who dont want to pay to care for a
horse they cannot use...i totally have a problem with this.

Anyway, I have 2 happy, healthy horses who have arthritis and are not rideable. They do headbob at the trot. they gallop to the gate twice a day for feed, they play all day, they gallop the fenceline, yes, they are lame, chronic footpain and honestly I am gunshy to rehome them to a stranger.

what do I do? euthanize 2 best friends and if I had to do that, do I do it at the same time??? or would you risk finding a home again? what do you do?


this is insanely difficult...these horses mean the world to me and I would save one if I could, btu I have 2 rescued mustangs and a 31 year old who all mean the world to me and htat is my limit.

Help?
TIA

Chief2
Jul. 23, 2008, 12:18 AM
You may have trouble finding a vet to euthanize them for you under these circumstances. I would either risk trying to rehome them again, lease them out as companion horses, or put your name in at a rescue that is reliable. JMO.

Simkie
Jul. 23, 2008, 12:29 AM
There is NOTHING wrong with putting down unwanted, unusable horses. I think its a tough reality of being involved in horses, especially in this difficult economic climate. Better to put them down humanely than have them starve in a field or be shipped off to slaughter, which I think are two things that are more and more likely to happen as prices for everything continue to rise.

I know exactly how hard it is--I euthanised my pet horse in June. I could no longer afford her, and she was absolutely unplaceable. It broke my heart, but I could not rationalize going deeper into debt with no end in sight.

My vet did not have any problems putting down my big girl. He said that he knew I was being rational, that he supported my decision and that he was proud of me. He also told me to be quiet about it. I think you will not have a problem finding a horse to put the horses down.

BabyGoose
Jul. 23, 2008, 12:29 AM
These horses aren't unwanted. You want to keep them but can't, I want to take in every "unwanted" horse in the world but I can't.

I don't know that I have much advice to offer. I'm sorry that you are being put in a position to have to make such a decision. My first thought would be try to find them a home, but that might be very hard since there are a lot of perfectly sound horses out there that can't find a home.

I would hope that a vet would honor your wishes to euthanize them if that is what you decide. There are worse things than a peaceful death.

Bless you for helping them and I wish there was an easy answer.

Flying Hearts
Jul. 23, 2008, 12:30 AM
I'm sure you've thought of this, but are they quiet enough to go to a therapeutic riding center? I know the one near here is looking for horses who can do the job who aren't ancient like most of the good candidates seem to be.

Foxtrot's
Jul. 23, 2008, 12:32 AM
It is a tough decision to make, but, honestly, don't guilt yourself. You can't keep everything and rescue them all.

It seems to be a taboo subject. I've not heard of vets who would not do the job for you. Here we have an alterntive. It is a company that will come to your farm, use the stun/bolt gun, and haul the horse away for minimal charge. Use the carcass for dog food, etc.
The company will also accompany a vet to the farm, wait until the time is right, crank the horse up the ramp and drive off. This is a family owned business and last year earned Horse Council "Business of the Year" award. They are always timely, respectful, quick and that's it, gone. No chatting, comiserating, just get the job done.
Not much fun, but necessary.

Take care - you will know.

Foxtrot's
Jul. 23, 2008, 12:35 AM
Finding them a home runs the very real risk of having them dumped down the line, unless you are prepared to do the monitoring. Their working days appear to be over.

HunterJumper106
Jul. 23, 2008, 01:36 AM
Have you looked into vet schools? Many veterinary schools take horses and use them to teach students to draw blood etc.

Do they have good temperments? Theraputic riding centers will often take horses who are unable to really be ridden and use them for therapy like brushing or just walking with a small child on their back.

I think that you might consider doing a little more research before putting down two horses that could possibly make a difference.

Simkie
Jul. 23, 2008, 01:42 AM
Have you looked into vet schools? Many veterinary schools take horses and use them to teach students to draw blood etc.The vet school in CO--Colorado State--sends their research etc horses through Centennial Livestock Auction when they're no longer needed. CLA is the killer auction in the state, and I recently heard it was on par with New Holland for number of horses sent to slaughter. I would not advise El Tovar to donate the horses to CSU. :no:

goeslikestink
Jul. 23, 2008, 02:30 AM
i dont think you will have a problem as like you said the are lame
you have given them a couple years of decent care , its also selfish to keep them aliveif they are in as much pain as you say they are can be borderline of abuse- as in killing them with kindness type thing as in -- selfishness becuase you want xyz

you have to think of there quality of life, if you did how ever get them moved will they be in a home for the rest of thre lives or not, will they be pass from pillar to post only to go through the same thing again, and then what be in a meat mans van or be treated with disrespect again

you have had them back twice and found them to be skinny again
let them go with dignity as in healthy looking -------

i think whats happening your b/o is being realistic and you are in denail thats theres anythiing wrong with both of them,
so he given you an untimatuim to do something positive for the horses in question
no doubt feels that you have spent enough done enough and they arent going to come round

you cannot understand cannot ride lame horses and these two are old and lame even at rest as in at play
time to let them go but a good thing is you can do them together so they can cross the bridge together


the riht thing to do is to pts----- and you know it - your just having doubts and voicing to see if there anything else - there isnt and thats the truth
no one is going to take on a ny horse with cronic lame issues that are a- old and on going
and b- expensive only to be told the horses have to be pts

so like i said dignity dont be selfish as in i want to keep them alive then in servere pain
and have been fror years and the only really is that you prolonged it and the invietable ends the same----
be happy that you gave these great guys there last years with grub happyness and a loving home - and say good bye

then at least you know where they are- and they pain free- as in freedom for the horse

2TBs
Jul. 23, 2008, 05:33 AM
Do a little google on the internet for the Euthanasia guidelines set down by the AAEP.

There you will find a documented titled "AAEPP Care guidelines for rescue and retirement facilities.: Page 22 is the section on Euthanasia To pull a snippet out:

1. Is the medical condition chronic and incurable?
2 Does he immediate medical condition have a hopeless prognosis for lie,?
3. Is the horse a hazard to itself or it's handlers?
4. Will the horse require continuous medication for the relief of pain for the reminder of it's life?
5 Will the medical condition result in a lifetime of continued confinement

These are the questions I went over with my vet to make the decisons about my girl. (See my thread in this are under "Tacky, or not?"

Today my 21 year old mare and aalomst 30 barn mate will cross the bridge together. I think if you can say yes to any of the above you need to talk to an equine vet and see what they have to say.

Good luck in your decision. It is a tough thing to go though.

glitterless
Jul. 23, 2008, 05:53 AM
I've also never heard of a vet not euthanizing an unwanted animal. I can't see it being a problem, especially when we're talking chronically lame horses.

How is this worse than the thousands of stray cats/dogs that are euthanized every year? If that's ethical, how is it unethical to euthanize a horse?

Don't feel bad. You did your part by keeping them happy and comfy and trying your best to find them a home. I think people who give an animal a humane end are amazing and selfless. Hugs to you and your horses.

thumbsontop
Jul. 23, 2008, 06:05 AM
I'm so sorry. When you say they are chronically lame, do you think that a vet might be able to treat it, or farrier? Have the vet out for an exam if that's possible, and find out what each horse is dealing with. It may make your situation to put them down much easier if you find out they are truly suffering but being stoic.

jn4jenny
Jul. 23, 2008, 07:13 AM
El Tovar, I'm sorry that you have to make this difficult decision. However, if you decide that there's truly no other option, then veterinary euthanasia is not the only way to get the job done. In most areas, it is perfectly legal to shoot your own horse or have it shot. If you hire an experienced marksman who uses the appropriate shell and aims correctly, the horse dies instantly. There was a good COTH thread about it last year.

shea'smom
Jul. 23, 2008, 07:45 AM
It probably doesn't help much, but you are not alone. We are going to have to change the way we look at these cases, with the economy and lack of something else to do with unwanted, or unaffordable horses.
These horses are lucky to have you, even if they end up walking to a peaceful grave. There are worse things. Harder for you than for them.
Hugs to you, though.

MsM
Jul. 23, 2008, 08:15 AM
Do you have a good relationship with a vet? (Professionally, I mean! :eek:) If so, have a talk with him/her if you think euthanasia is needed. If your vet knows you, he/she is usually understanding and supportive of these kind of decisions. It's not like you are thowing away a horse because it can't show anymore and you dont want to spend time rehabbing!
It sounds like it might be the only answer. Finding a home for horses that are lame at the trot is extremely difficult. You can certainly try again, but there are not a lot of "companion horse" homes out there compared to the number of needy horses. I wish people would quit suggesting "therapeutic riding stables" for every lame horse! IME, they do NOT want lame horses. They can work with stiff, but they are offered enough horses these days that around here they are very picky and will only take horses with the right size, temperment and NO costly maitenance issues!
Give them a good life for as long as you can and then release them humanely.

seabreeze
Jul. 23, 2008, 08:16 AM
These horses are lucky to have you, even if they end up walking to a peaceful grave. There are worse things.

Ditto. I've told my family that if something ever happens to me, I would like my horses put to sleep and buried under their grove of trees. It sounds selfish, but, really, it's for their well-being. They've had a good life with me, and no way do I want to risk them ending up in the hands of someone who isn't going to take care of them.

You'd be doing the horses a favor.

meaty ogre
Jul. 23, 2008, 08:56 AM
El Tovar, the ranchers who used these horses up and then pawned them off on you should feel guilty, NOT YOU. Real cowboys would take care of their own.

I know a lot about this--I previously was a social worker, constantly feeling guilty for not being able to do more to help the kids who came and went through my life. I never did get to the point where I could accept that it wasn't my fault that the kids' lives were in shambles in the first place, and it's the reason I had to change careers for my own sanity.

The devil you know is better than the one you don't. A dignified end will allow you to know that you did the best for them that you could, and never to wonder about what happened to them. Rehoming will always leave you wondering. In the best of economies it's a crap-shoot; in this economy it's a downright losing game.

A co-worker of mine always used to wear a bracelet with beads that spelled WICWIC. I asked her one day the significance of it and she said it reminded her to do "what I can, where I can." You've got 2 rescues and a horse you've managed to keep going to the age of 31. If that's "all" you can do, there is certainly no shame in that.

(and finally, as a totally unsolicited and probably unwarranted piece of advice, if this is the dude ranches' MO when it comes to the retirement of their equines, I'd have to cut all ties with them right after I called them out for being completely irresponsible and terrible stewards of their animals...giving YOU a deadline to clean up their mess? Oh, no...meaty ogre don't think so!)

marta
Jul. 23, 2008, 08:58 AM
peaceful death at the hands of caring people is a much better option than some of the alternatives.

Woodland
Jul. 23, 2008, 09:04 AM
Anyway, I have 2 happy, healthy horses who have arthritis and are not rideable. They do headbob at the trot.



If they are lame and winter is coming they will hurt every where when it's cold. Euthanasia is a humane option for even "healthy" horses that hurt. There is no shame in that.

Also call CSU. See if they are in need of donor horses for their vet school. The horses may be used in a study, or necropsy, or surgery practice. All in a humane and caring manner with the end result being euthanasia. That way the end of their life can be as useful as all of their life had been.

((((HUGS)))) This just has to be so hard I am sorry you have to deal with this. I have a beloved blind POA that is my Daughter's treasure I am wrestling with the same issue with right now. He is "OK" but his "seeing eye" mini has desperate arthritis and may not make another winter. One without the other will die of a broken heart - it's just so very very very sad!

Arrow
Jul. 23, 2008, 09:48 AM
I think you've made a good decision. This isn't a case of a healthy, young horse--these horses are healthy, but can't be used, and it sounds like they are of retirement age. I'd call around until I found a vet who would do it--there must be at least one in your area who would, because as I said--it's not you are someone asking a vet to put down a young horse you don't want.

LouLove
Jul. 23, 2008, 10:12 AM
Do not feel bad. You are offering them dignity. And you can sleep knowing that they are peaceful. You will not have to wonder what happened to them. Especially since you have already pulled them out of a bad situation. I am sure vets are seeing more and more young horses being put down with chronic illness because of the US economy.

You are a caring person to offer them this dignified exit. They deserve this respect and not to be starved or forced back into work under saddle by an uneducated person.

Simkie
Jul. 23, 2008, 10:15 AM
Also call CSU. See if they are in need of donor horses for their vet school. The horses may be used in a study, or necropsy, or surgery practice. All in a humane and caring manner with the end result being euthanasia. That way the end of their life can be as useful as all of their life had been.


Please see what I wrote above. CSU sends their horses to Centennial when they're no longer needed. I would not donate a horse to CSU.

Tom Stovall
Jul. 23, 2008, 10:28 AM
El Tovar in gray, stuff deleted

This is very very very hard for me to even type. But, a few months ago, I posted about 2 dude ranch horses I managed for the last 5 years, both with chronic low grade lamenesses that make them unable to comfortably do their jobs in the mountains carrying dudes. I have been threatened with a time period to get rid of these 2 horses. One month...

For folks who live in rural areas, veterinarian administered euthanasia, even if desired, is not always an option. Fortunately, the physical process of killing a horse is easy: Draw an imaginary "X" with the lines running from eye to opposite ear, place the barrel of a .22 at the point the lines intersect, make sure the barrel is perpendicular to the skull, then pull the trigger. Death is instantaneous. Unless you can leave the horse where it falls, the most difficult part of killing a horse is disposing of the carcass. Here, we recycle organic matter with the help of buzzards and coyotes, while others call somebody with a backhoe.

For me, taking on the responsibility of putting a horse down is one of the most unhappy parts of owning horses and it never gets any easier. :(

veebug22
Jul. 23, 2008, 11:50 AM
peaceful death at the hands of caring people is a much better option than some of the alternatives.

I agree, especially with the number of unwanted horses around and the current economy. If they're lame and can't do a job, you're not being unreasonable. It is NOT worth you going into debt.

I've never known a vet to turn down euthanizing in this kind of situation. I've known people that put down for less. I don't judge them on it. No one did it because it was easy -- they tossed and turned with the decision, weighed the factors, and decided it was the best choice. So many factors go into the decision to euthanize. Only you can make that decision, but I don't think there's anything cruel about it. I might try to find a rescue if I were you, but then again, I've known rescues that gave subpar care. You'll either need to be SURE that they're going to a great home, or I would euthanize. It's often the fairer option.

animaldoc
Jul. 23, 2008, 12:04 PM
they're chronically lame and can't be used for anything other than pasture ornaments. Not many people would be able to provide that unless they have unlimited resources and space. I don't know many vets that would refuse euthanasia under those circumstances.

Most of the vet schools that take donations will euthanize them pretty much immediately and take cartlidge, tendon, bone marrow etc for ongoing studies. Or the donations will be euthanized and used to practice surgery or necropsy. The schools aren't able to take donations to house (for teaching students) because of $$- they usually have those horses as resident blood donors already. The horses used for live animal research projects (obtained from the sales for those projects) that aren't euthanized as part of the study are often sent back through the sales at the completion of the study.

So sorry you're having to make this decision, but it sounds like it will be the best thing for the horses.....

dkcbr
Jul. 23, 2008, 12:15 PM
Aren't "healthy" and "lame" two different conditions? :confused:

Star Creek
Jul. 23, 2008, 12:47 PM
peaceful death at the hands of caring people is a much better option than some of the alternatives.

Certainly, if you find there are no other options, a humane and peaceful end is the kindest thing you can do for the horses. You are a saint for taking them back in and restoring their health. You'll be an angel if you ensure they have a comfortable and peaceful end.

Peace to you too. You are a hero in my mind to care so much.

Foxtrot's
Jul. 23, 2008, 04:41 PM
Would it help you to think that - as far as we know - horses and Nature in general do not rationalize, think and have the same sentiments as we have. They do know they are in pain, or hungry or thirsty, and they have each other. If you have thought of the options, I respect your decision and nobody will judge you one way or the other. I respect you for your caring decision.

katarine
Jul. 23, 2008, 05:47 PM
El Tovar I sent you a PM.

cloudyandcallie
Jul. 23, 2008, 05:57 PM
this is going to happen more and more in this economy. Actually it has always happened but we didn't hear about it often, and the horses were just starved to death.
I am anti-slaughter.
But I am pro euth-ing unwanted horses to give them a peaceful death.
I'd try to find them a good home. Again.
But euth-ing them to save them from slaughter or a slow death from starvation is something that you may have to do.
Vets know the situation in this economy and your vet should be sympathetic. Vets here in Georgia don't question the putting down of dogs and cats and horses.
Make sure you get a big dose of ketamine for each horses, puts them under, and I'd euth them together and bury together.
Too bad that a lot of people like the owner do not believe in retirement for animals. Karma will get this guy.
And you should not have had this thrust upon you, but for the horses' sake, I'm glad you are taking care of them.

subk
Jul. 23, 2008, 05:58 PM
El Tovar, the ranchers who used these horses up and then pawned them off on you should feel guilty, NOT YOU.
No one "used up these horses." They just got old. When things get old they die, and it is nothing for anyone to feel "guilty" about.

I have been in over a half a dozen nursing homes (for people) in the last week. Dozens in the last few years. This concept that we are suppose to keep old people alive at not let them die in peace and dignity is lovely in thought and awful in real life. How absolutely wonderful that our horses and pets have the option of euthanasia.

BuddyRoo
Jul. 23, 2008, 06:06 PM
A peaceful end with happy days leading up to it is the best final gift you can give these two. And yes, I would euth them together.

I'm sorry that you've been put in such a situation. But it is, IMHO, far more humane and caring to euthanize than to allow them to suffer.

I was blessed that I could afford to keep my pasture pet old man around the last few years. BLESSED. Not everyone is. These aren't even YOURS. You have already shown an amazing amount of empathy and invested a lot of energy into doing right by them.

I'm very sorry that you are at this crossroads. But do what you think is right with the information you have and no one can fault you.

Best wishes.

Thomas_1
Jul. 23, 2008, 06:13 PM
Personally speaking, I couldn't put down a healthy horse.

I'm thinking though that these don't sound healthy and sadly it sounds like you've been dumped with them.

I still personally wouldn't want to put them down and would be seeking to either keep them or make every strenuous effort to find them a companion or retirement home. If there's circumstances where those weren't viable options then my preference would be to have them humanely destroyed rather than take their chance with an unsuitable home.

Though I'm unclear from the OP whether the horses are actually owned by her??

If they're not then I'd be suggesting taking action to enforce the owners to take responsibility and do the right thing and if that means they pay for their keep to buy more time if they're too healthy to put down, then that's what I'd do.

Coreene
Jul. 23, 2008, 06:43 PM
Here is the final verse:

And finally oh master
when my youthful strength is gone
do not turn me out to starve or freeze
or sell me to some cruel owner
to be slowly tortured or stoned to death,
but do thou, my master
take my life in the kindest way, and
your God will reward you here and hereafter.
You will not consider me irreverent
if I ask this in the name of Him who was born in a stable...

:sadsmile:

bingbingbing
Jul. 23, 2008, 07:03 PM
Agree with Coreene.
Put them down before sending them off to another possible bad home.
Do not donate them to a vet school. You lose all control of them and they will not just be used to practice drawing blood. Vet schools are known to send horses to slaughter. I've seen what goes on behind the scenes at more than one vet school, I wouldn't donate my worst enemy.
I am sorry you are in this position, but I see nothing wrong with putting these two down if the only other option is an unknown future.

Classicgal
Jul. 23, 2008, 07:46 PM
This isn't an easy issue and all I can tell you is how I feel about it. I have an old horse that hasn't been rideable for years. I watch him and know that when the time comes I will put him down. As long as I can give him a fairly comfortable quality of life I will keep him around. Even years ago when there may have been "companion" homes available I couldn't see anyone else treating him right. I was lucky once giving my mothers old horse away but it seems that the norm is horror stories. I could never bring myself to do this with this horse. I had a friend who was a vet student and she was very unhappy about how the donated horses were treated. I know of several handicapped programs and they don't want horses like mine. Rescue places do not take just plain unwanted horses, and if they did - where would they end up? No, my horse will have a good life for as long as he can and I can give it to him and then go peacefully. I do know of a couple of local vets that have not agreed to do this for owners. They insisted on doing every possible thing before putting their horses down. So I have had the "talk" with mine. He said that it was entirely up to me and I would know when it was time. I will feel awful and grieve but I will not feel guilty.

Brigitte
Jul. 23, 2008, 08:12 PM
You are in such a tough situation, but I think you are totally right to consider euthanasia. You are giving them the best gift you can, there just aren't enough good homes to go around right now.

I also go crazy when I hear all the suggestions for donating horses. For all the good situations, there are just as many bad ones. Even when donated to the best places, I have had friends find that what was once a good situation can change. Sometimes it is as simple as a new barn manager taking over and the care can go downhill.

As a neighbor of mine always say about these type of questions: "There are worse things than being dead". It sounds harsh, but it is the reality of this situation.

You obviously care a great deal about them and you will make the right decision, what ever you decide.

Woodland
Jul. 23, 2008, 08:35 PM
Please see what I wrote above. CSU sends their horses to Centennial when they're no longer needed. I would not donate a horse to CSU.

I have donated several old schoolies to U of I and Mid Tn State over the years for student teaching. In every donation you can specify euthanasia upon end of study. They were used humanely in research for feeds, supplements, beneficial drugs, ultra sound, and colic surgery practice. At no time were they ever abused. They were very well cared for. Some were in studies for years before their lives ended humanely.

Every situation is different. But I for one am grateful their lives ended with purpose.

SuperSTB
Jul. 23, 2008, 09:24 PM
I'm always leary of donating to a school...

Anyhoo I see no issue with a vet giving grief about putting down two pasture sound only ornaments and you shouldn't feel guilty about it either.

HunterJumper106
Jul. 23, 2008, 09:54 PM
Most of the vet schools that take donations will euthanize them pretty much immediately and take cartlidge, tendon, bone marrow etc for ongoing studies. Or the donations will be euthanized and used to practice surgery or necropsy. The schools aren't able to take donations to house (for teaching students) because of $$- they usually have those horses as resident blood donors already.

In my opinion even if the vet school euthanized them and used them for study at least the next generation of veterinary students would learn from them--and some of the animals are also used for blood donors or anatomy "teachers". I just think that instead of just putting them to sleep they could help teach the next generation how to properly care for our animals--because in the end those vets are going to be taking care of our horses!

jetsmom
Jul. 23, 2008, 10:04 PM
Do a little google on the internet for the Euthanasia guidelines set down by the AAEP.

There you will find a documented titled "AAEPP Care guidelines for rescue and retirement facilities.: Page 22 is the section on Euthanasia To pull a snippet out:

1. Is the medical condition chronic and incurable?
2 Does he immediate medical condition have a hopeless prognosis for lie,?
3. Is the horse a hazard to itself or it's handlers?
4. Will the horse require continuous medication for the relief of pain for the reminder of it's life?
5 Will the medical condition result in a lifetime of continued confinement

These are the questions I went over with my vet to make the decisons about my girl. (See my thread in this are under "Tacky, or not?"

Today my 21 year old mare and aalomst 30 barn mate will cross the bridge together. I think if you can say yes to any of the above you need to talk to an equine vet and see what they have to say.

Good luck in your decision. It is a tough thing to go though.



Amazing that they are so concerned about making sure no healthy horses are humanely euthanized, yet don't have a problem sending them to slaughter. I guess they took the "Hipocrite " oath.

subk
Jul. 23, 2008, 10:17 PM
A friend's horse recently had a catastrophic re-injury. The horse was temporarily sound on large doses of bute, but the prognosis was dismal. She was able to ship him to Knoxville and donate him to the UT vet school where they used him in a specific study that was developing a new treatment on some ailment (can't remember what it was, wasn't related to the injury.) The horse was injected with something, euthanized and then a necropsy was preformed to research the effects and results of the injection. It wasn't a painful procedure and she had all the details beforehand.

She took a great deal of comfort from knowing that her horse's end served an extremely useful purpose.

Old Equine Lady
Jul. 23, 2008, 10:32 PM
You are facing one of the hardest phases of horse ownership or care, you have my deepest sympathy. One alternative in my area is to contact a Hunt Master. They will take you horse(s) and shoot them. Then they feed them to the hounds so that your horse is always running with the hunt. In a way, it is kind of romantic and at least your horse is taken care of by a horseperson that has the same respect for horses as you do.

gubbyz
Jul. 24, 2008, 12:50 AM
Can they be used by a theraputic riding school? All they basically do is walk. As long as they are sweet and quiet.

Watermark Farm
Jul. 24, 2008, 01:13 PM
I've done some horse rescue over the years, and have once been in your situation. It's heartbreaking. There is no shame in giving these two horses the dignity of euthanasia. It's far preferable to the many unkind alternatives. A vet informed of the situation with them should be willing to put them down. Kudos to you for doing right by them. Horses like them have "slaughter pipeline" written all over them.
It will not be easy, but you will feel some relief when it's done.

animaldoc
Jul. 24, 2008, 01:20 PM
I just think that instead of just putting them to sleep they could help teach the next generation how to properly care for our animals--because in the end those vets are going to be taking care of our horses!

It would be great if it worked that way- but in this economy (and with ever-shrinking state support) the vet schools don't have the money to feed/house the donated horses for any length of time so they are euthanized.

Sometimes donations come in with a $$ amount to feed/house them (I knew of some horses that came to a vet school with a large sum that was to provide for them for life) and then they will be kept alive for palpation/bandaging/blood draws etc.

frugalannie
Jul. 24, 2008, 01:39 PM
El Tovar, it's wonderful that you are so worried about these two old gents. I know you'll make the right decision for them.

I sold a mare years ago with a provision that I had right of first refusal if she was to be sold or was to retire. So she came back to me. I then found her another, "forever home" for retirement. Things changed and she came back to me again.

Now she's 24. I can see that everything aches, and she always seems to be struggling a bit to breathe. Yet she's glossy, in great flesh, loves being out in the tall grass and getting skritches. I'll be facing the ultimate decision this fall as I really need to consider if another winter of bad footing will be fair to her. My vets have been enormously supportive of my decision-making process.

It is rarely a clear cut decision for those of us who have built bonds with our horses. And when circumstances make it a "no brainer", we rue not having one more day to say goodbye. But, really, we need to weigh the options for these lives for which we've taken responsibility and do what is best for them.

I'm EBO
Jul. 24, 2008, 07:58 PM
I wish there were a therapeutic riding place near you that could take them so that they could have a few more good years before their time came. I assume you've looked into that, though.

I have an old girl with cushing's, arthritis, almost blind, almost deaf, etc., yet. . . she trots out to turnout every day, polishes off her feed (soaked cubes since her teeth aren't up to getting full value out of hay), and is generally a pretty happy camper. I promise myself that if she founders (from the cushing's), I'll send her to the bridge right away, but I just can't bring myself to do it right now. I can barely afford the horses during this economic time, but I could afford to let her go if I had to do it.

You could declare yourself an official rescue, which it sounds as if you are, and solicit help from other like-minded people, I guess.

I am sorry you're faced with this. I don't have an answer.

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Jul. 24, 2008, 10:10 PM
no advice, just so sorry.

daisyduke
Jul. 24, 2008, 11:01 PM
Sorry that you have found yourself in this situation. I purchased a horse a few years ago on the condition that I was a forever home. As the horse was fairly young (7), I figured I had years of riding enjoyment and use. However, he became lame (ringbone) and cannot be used for the purpose I purchased him. However, that said, I will honor the condition that this will be his forever home.

Regarding your situation, you basically have 2 options: (a) you advertise and place the horses as companions and walk away, accepting whatever fate may befall them. This is not a death sentence, they may actually find a home that just wants a grass mower or companion; or (b) you euthanize them.

I don't want to offer advice. This is too personal of a decision. In the end, you will make the decision that is right for you. Good Luck!

HunterJumper106
Jul. 25, 2008, 12:03 AM
It would be great if it worked that way- but in this economy (and with ever-shrinking state support) the vet schools don't have the money to feed/house the donated horses for any length of time so they are euthanized.

Sometimes donations come in with a $$ amount to feed/house them (I knew of some horses that came to a vet school with a large sum that was to provide for them for life) and then they will be kept alive for palpation/bandaging/blood draws etc.

But in my opinion even if they are euthanized the moment they get there someone will learn something from them! They might be able to learn anatomy or practice surgery or even use them for research--research that may save a horses life in the future. I think that even if they are euthanized and not kept alive they will help the world in some way. And today so much of what we learn from animals can also be applied to humans. I just think that there could be something good to come out of having to put down two horses.

I'm EBO
Jul. 25, 2008, 01:16 AM
I think that CSU (my very own alma mater) just ships them to Centennial rather than euthanising them.

Dazednconfused
Jul. 25, 2008, 02:12 AM
I'm really not sure that foisting them onto a therapeutic riding place is appropriate - from what I know of them they generally struggle financially and to find suitable, sound horses as it is. Even if they are relatively sound now - they will get progressively worse, probably to where they are not usable for the program - at which point THEY will be the ones responsible for having to euthanize and bury/render the horse. I would put them down yourself if you are able to - it's not ideal but it's sure better than being shuffled around because they're not useful - if they can get a peaceful end that you have control over, I think that would be really a nice thing to do for them. :sadsmile:

Altamont Sport Horses
Jul. 25, 2008, 08:35 AM
I'm not sure I understand how old these horses are. Also are they geldings? One of the vets in my area takes in unwanted mares to use as recipient mares. When the recip mare weans her foal the vet will take her back for a credit applied to another embryo transfer.

LuvMyTB
Jul. 25, 2008, 01:39 PM
Can they be used by a theraputic riding school? All they basically do is walk. As long as they are sweet and quiet.

Ugh, all these therapeutic riding center donation suggestions are driving me crazy.

Gubbyz--no offense, but this is NOT true. They have to have smooth gaits. They have to be surefooted. They have to be able to stand stock-still for long periods of time. They can't just be "quiet," they have to be desensitized to all kinds of stuff--awkward, jerky movement, the feel of leg braces scraping their sides, having sidewalkers on both sides, unusual noises.....for students who cannot support themselves and require "back riders"--the horses will need to tolerate being ridden double.

Some need PERFECT lunge manners. Many are or need to be voice-trained.

And they DO trot, even canter depending on the skill of the rider.

I see this suggestion all the time in "what to do with my old horse"-type threads. OLD does not=serviceably sound, quiet, bombproof, smooth--all the things that are required in a therapy riding horse.

Therapy horses are working horses. They may not be in full physical work, but they need to be able to deal with the physical demands as well as the high mental stress. Therapy centers are not throwaway homes for lame, old horses, and certainly not for moderately arthritic, barely pasture sound horses.

Sorry, rant over. OP, I am so sorry you have ended up in this situation. My heart hurts for you. My advice would to let these 2 boys go peacefully, rather than risking another bad home or putting yourself in debt in order to keep them.

My thoughts are with you. Good luck in your decision, and God bless you for caring so much for these boys when others did not. :sadsmile:

Proffie
Jul. 25, 2008, 05:58 PM
I'm in pretty much exactly the same position as you, El Tovar.

I bought my draft cross mare back in 2000, when she was only 10. We were just starting to really click at the h/j shows when she came in from turnout 3-legged lame.

For 8 years, I've spent well over $10,000 trying to get her even "trail walking" sound. She's only gotten slowly, progressively worse. Low ringbone, and now stifle/hock/back problems from being sore so long. BUT she's cheery, shiny, in good weight, etc.

I CAN afford to keep her on rough board, where she is now. I CAN continue to give her bute on bad days, monitor her all winter, etc. etc. She could feasibly live like this, very slowly getting more and more sore all over, for 10-15 years. I'm at the point now where I'm wondering... should I? I'm not rich by any means, and make sacrifices to keep her all the time. I could really use the extra money... but as soon as I think that, I feel like crap.

I've been reading this thread, hoping for a magic response... but like everyone else here, I realize there is no right answer. I certainly would not think poorly of you if you decided to euthanize. I hope no one would think poorly of me, or anyone else in this horrible situation.

Auventera Two
Jul. 25, 2008, 07:10 PM
Ditto. I've told my family that if something ever happens to me, I would like my horses put to sleep and buried under their grove of trees. It sounds selfish, but, really, it's for their well-being. They've had a good life with me, and no way do I want to risk them ending up in the hands of someone who isn't going to take care of them.

You'd be doing the horses a favor.

Yep me too. I'd rather all 3 of them be put down and buried on their own farm than ending up starved or dumped at an auction somewhere. Two of them are older and have medical issues, but even the young perfectly healthy arab, I'd want her put down also. I would never risk their lives with people I don't know. We've sold horses before and had it turn out badly - twice.

RackOn
Jul. 26, 2008, 10:34 PM
Almost three years ago I bought a quarter horse for trail riding. Immediately after purchase he came up lame. More than 5k in vet bills later he is still lame with little hope of recovery. He cannot tolerate any weight on his back and sometimes limps. He is only 11.

Even if he is pasture sound, do I keep him until he dies of old age? Even if he lives until 20, that is 9 yrs times $250/mo = $27,000 minimum not counting vet and farrier. Crazy.

People mean well with their suggestions but come on, who wants to provide your lame horse a cozy retirement? Does anyone really think someone is just waiting to spend over 27 grand on my horse? There is no such thing as a forever home unless you provide it. If you can't provide it, better to let the horse meet a dignified and peaceful end rather than days or weeks of terror being shipped to a Mexican slaughterhouse.

You may want to read the thread on whether to be with your horse or not when it is put to sleep, some very insightful posts on that thread.

Every vet I've ever talked to understands euthanizing a horse and I have yet to meet one that would refuse.

I have struggled with this for over a year and am close to euthanizing my horse although it is a very, very hard decision. I just know that here is nothing else to do with him that won't put him in eventual jeopardy.

If it is any comfort, afterwards you will probably feel relieved. I owned a mare for 17 years. She had always been a kicker and bitchy, but never actually kicked a person-only other horses. She was living out her days in retirement and other than arthritis was healthy. One day she took aim at my husband and kicked him in the abdomen. Hard. On purpose. First time that ever happened. And last, as the next week she was put down. It was very sad since I owned her for so long (wish I could say she was a good horse but she really wasn't) but afterwards it was a relief that it was over and done and I could move on. My vet fully supported the decision. He said sometimes they get old and cranky and better to put a horse down than risk injury.

SuperSTB
Jul. 28, 2008, 02:10 PM
Ugh, all these therapeutic riding center donation suggestions are driving me crazy.

Gubbyz--no offense, but this is NOT true. They have to have smooth gaits. They have to be surefooted. They have to be able to stand stock-still for long periods of time. They can't just be "quiet," they have to be desensitized to all kinds of stuff--awkward, jerky movement, the feel of leg braces scraping their sides, having sidewalkers on both sides, unusual noises.....for students who cannot support themselves and require "back riders"--the horses will need to tolerate being ridden double.

Some need PERFECT lunge manners. Many are or need to be voice-trained.

And they DO trot, even canter depending on the skill of the rider.

I see this suggestion all the time in "what to do with my old horse"-type threads. OLD does not=serviceably sound, quiet, bombproof, smooth--all the things that are required in a therapy riding horse.

Therapy horses are working horses. They may not be in full physical work, but they need to be able to deal with the physical demands as well as the high mental stress. Therapy centers are not throwaway homes for lame, old horses, and certainly not for moderately arthritic, barely pasture sound horses.

Sorry, rant over. OP, I am so sorry you have ended up in this situation. My heart hurts for you. My advice would to let these 2 boys go peacefully, rather than risking another bad home or putting yourself in debt in order to keep them.

My thoughts are with you. Good luck in your decision, and God bless you for caring so much for these boys when others did not. :sadsmile:


THANK YOU!!! for bringing this point up. A therapudic riding school is not a 'rescue'. It amazes me how many people suggest offering up the suggestion that a horse with some sort of 'ailment' whether it be dietary, lameness or whatever be an automatic candidate as a therapy horse.

Once a horse leaves your hands- you have NO control. None... zippo... nadda... It's not unheard of for therapy schools and other 'donation' programs- INCLUDING vet schools to sell or give away horses either.

If they are chronically lame- and you cannot afford to keep them- put them down. It is by far the most admiral thing one can do.

Sanity Rules
Sep. 2, 2008, 01:39 PM
I feel for you, I really do! I have a horse with Recurrent Uveitis, so if I couldn't afford to take care of him I would have a real problem finding him a new home that I felt confident about. I know it sounds harsh, but because I love him so much I would rather euthanize him than risk having him abused or left scared and confused. Good luck with your decision!

animaldoc
Sep. 2, 2008, 04:11 PM
But in my opinion even if they are euthanized the moment they get there someone will learn something from them! They might be able to learn anatomy or practice surgery or even use them for research--research that may save a horses life in the future. I think that even if they are euthanized and not kept alive they will help the world in some way. And today so much of what we learn from animals can also be applied to humans. I just think that there could be something good to come out of having to put down two horses.

I agree- I was just trying to respond to the people that were concerned that donation to a vet school = horrible abusive study of some type.

Any resolution to the OP question?

gabz
Sep. 2, 2008, 07:28 PM
This is difficult for you, but doing this is the alternative to a slaughter truck ride - probably the second worst part of the slaughter industry.

Michigan State has a donor program and does cremation. Horses go on a waiting list and when the need arises, you can take a horse there as a blood donor after which it is euthanized and cremated. I bet in today's market - the waiting list is very long.

At times like this, I want to dial up a PETA person and say, Here, come take care of this horse the rest of his life.

Best wishes and positive thoughts to you.
An old gelding Belgian draft was put down last fall so he didn't have to try and keep his feet under him during the icy/ cold winter. Now HE would have been good for a therapy program (he was only 16.1 -maybe 16.2 but VERY unflappable!!) .... but without knowing what happens afterwards, ?? un uh.

rcloisonne
Sep. 2, 2008, 07:41 PM
At times like this, I want to dial up a PETA person and say, Here, come take care of this horse the rest of his life.
Why? PETA has nothing against euthing unwanted animals. Indeed, PETA considers euthanization preferable to the alternatives such as abuse, neglect, long trailer rides to slaughter houses, etc.. Not so different than what many have already suggestioned here.

And no, I'm not a member but do agree with SOME of their philosophy. :winkgrin:

jumpforjoy
Sep. 3, 2008, 12:03 PM
I am in the same spot as you and some of the other posters. I have 4 horses, two oldsters with arthritis (walk pretty well and trot with a head bob), one 9 year old mare with a torn suspensory, and now my swedish warm-blood who is totally blind. What to do ? I love them all very much , but am not immune to the fact that I am not able to buy another horse to ride because I am taking care of these guys. It is a very sad and frustrating situation.
I am thinking of you and sending you warm and comforting thoughts. Don't feel guilty, giving them a peaceful death is so much better than neglecting them. You have our sympathies and support.

3horsemom
Sep. 3, 2008, 07:31 PM
what a tough spot for you to be in. but how lucky for these 2 horse to have you. no words of wisdom to offer, just support and prayers.

El Tovar
Sep. 3, 2008, 07:48 PM
I actually found GOOD homes for all 4 horses that I had to place or euthanize. I met the deadline, got lucky and met angel-humans. I had not planned for this but it must have been meant to be because they are all in nice places and are well loved.

Miracles CAN happen.

philosoraptor
Sep. 3, 2008, 08:11 PM
It's a hard decision, and only you can decide what is best for them.

If anyone criticizes you, they need to remember how many horses aren't so lucky and end up disappearing in the slaughter pipeline. At least if you have it done it'll be a peaceful, quiet, humane end.

Vet schools are an option, but call around first. I know that for example my nearby vet school, New Bolton, does take a few horses for study, but not many and at only certian times of the year.

I'm really to sure what to advise. It sounds like you're attached to them. But if you can't keep them and it's pretty clear they're not likely to be bought by a good home, what else can you do? Can you retire them somewhere, either a low-frills boarding place or retirement farm? Can you give them maybe 6 months of looking for good homes and if nobody comes by then, perhaps it wasn't meant to be? Or if you feel the arthritis is going to get worse, with winter coming, do you think it's better to euthanize them ow? Only you know the answers to this.

THANKS for caring so much. :)


Can they be used by a theraputic riding school? All they basically do is walk. As long as they are sweet and quiet.

Horses need to be sound at least the trot and be able to do more than one or two sessions a day to be of use to a therapeutic riding center. I say this based on me working for one NARHA place, and through the rescue I talk to other therapetuic programs to see if any of the rescue's horses might fit their needs.

You also can't assume all riders at therapeutic problems are tiny and well balanced. If you put a horse with pain issues into a place where sometimes they need to be carrying handicapped adults with lower body control, it's really alot to ask of the horse.

If you do donate them to a riding center, school, etc ASK where horses go when the place is done with them. Therapeutic riding centers have no obligation to pay to retire the extra horses. Not all but some will take them to the cheapo horse auctions. Even some "rescues" have been known to quietly support slaughter or take extras to auction.

lindat
Sep. 3, 2008, 08:33 PM
I actually found GOOD homes for all 4 horses that I had to place or euthanize. I met the deadline, got lucky and met angel-humans. I had not planned for this but it must have been meant to be because they are all in nice places and are well loved.

Miracles CAN happen.

...we still need a cheerleader smiley...
GREAT job and thanks for the update!!!!!!

kdail
Sep. 4, 2008, 07:31 AM
Definitely think about donating the horses to a vet school. How wonderful it would be if they were used in research projects that could help other horses one day. I don't the first horse I ever owned to our local vet school after she developed glaucoma and was losing her vision. It was a very hard thing to do, knowing that she would be put down eventually, but to know that she may have helped the researchers learn something that could help other horses made it easier.

Thinking of you.