PDA

View Full Version : When you have to put them down at the farm



SED
Dec. 22, 2010, 09:57 PM
Today, we had to put down my daughter's retired hunter, who was almost 21. He had a heart murmur for many years, with no symptoms, but it had gotten worse lately, and the lack of blood flow was causing problems with his digestion and repeated "mini-colics".

At any rate, the hardest thing was having our neighbor come in with the back hoe to dig a hole while my boy was still alive and watching. Then my brave daughter led him down to the back of the farm where the hole was. I couldn't watch. My husband and the neighbor took care of it from there while I comforted my daughter.

But it made me realize that, along with the grief of putting down a beloved equine on the farm, is the practical "horror" of figuring out how to do it with such a large corpse. While it was his time, there is no doubt that I was influenced on the exact timing by the availability of people to help us. In a perfect world, I would have waited a little longer.

It is so different than when you have a dog put down at the vet, and then cremated. Or even when a horse dies at the vet or in a boarding stable and somehow the body is magically disposed of.

Somehow, the grief and guilt at the loss is worse this way, since you are having to plan the disposal of a body when all you really want to do is to grieve. Has anyone else ever felt this?

deltawave
Dec. 22, 2010, 10:15 PM
Very sorry for you and yours. :(

When my old event mare went downhill fast I had to quickly try and solidify half-baked plans on where and how to bury her. Sadly, the final day came so suddenly that I had neither time to arrange a backhoe nor the ability to walk the poor mare (end-stage EPM) to the designated spot. :(

My dear vet came at 9pm and put her down where she stood under a rising harvest moon, quietly watched me bawl my eyes out and made sure I was OK. He sent the bill later with a condolence note, which is nicer than it sounds. :sadsmile:

One of my patients has an excavating company, and he came out late that night on a holiday weekend to do his thing in the dark with one phone call.

I was able to stay with the mare until she was gone, no problem, but I could NOT watch them haul her body to that hole. :( My non-horsey husband and the excavator guy handled it.

I guess the moral of the story is that it's OK to lean on people, and that the good folks in your life probably "get it" more than we sometimes give them credit for and are glad to help. Lean on them. Go right ahead and grieve. What we are able to do for animals in their final hours is a blessing and a good deed, but it doesn't make it any less miserable for us, knowing it's the "right thing".

((hug))

JSwan
Dec. 22, 2010, 10:24 PM
Somehow, the grief and guilt at the loss is worse this way, since you are having to plan the disposal of a body when all you really want to do is to grieve. Has anyone else ever felt this?

Yes. I prefer to handle everything myself, but I have taken care of things for friends who dealt with grief/impending grief in a different way.

I'm sorry for your loss, and I hope your daughter is ok. Leading that horse must have been terribly difficult for her.

chemteach
Dec. 22, 2010, 10:27 PM
So sorry.

Fairview Horse Center
Dec. 22, 2010, 10:30 PM
I am sorry for your loss.

I actually feel that the work to take care of the body is healing.

We never put a horse down near a burial spot. We just put them down in an area that is fairly easy for the backhoe, or loader to get to. You have to make sure to cover the body with tarps until you can arrange for a backhoe to keep any wildlife from eating the body, as it is toxic.

It is pretty easy to roll them up into the bucket of a loader for transport to the area. Once there, we just set them down next to the spot, and dig the hole. We then use chains from the backhoe bucket around the legs - front and back, to lower the body down, and get it placed right. Then fill the hole.

The problem of having a body that needs to be taken care of actually leads to some relief, and comfort at the final time when they are safely settled in the ground, and it is done.

ladybugred
Dec. 22, 2010, 10:38 PM
I'm so sorry, for both you and your daughter.

LBR

RiverBendPol
Dec. 22, 2010, 11:10 PM
I've been lucky so far, to be able to schedule the day ahead of time. I make the dates with vet and digger. I have the hole dug after the horse has been put to sleep so he doesn't have that anxiety. What has worked for me in the past and I'm preparing my head and heart now for an upcoming euth, is to give the horse a mild tranq in his stall. Enough to help him be calm and not think too much about why I'm leading him down across the field where we usually ride. When we are close to the burial spot, the vet does her thing. I sit with the body till I'm all cried out then I either go into the house and turn on a symphony LOUD or I get in the car and leave home. Back hoe man comes and does his thing and when I get home it is nothing but EMPTY and the gruesome part is done.

I also have a wonderful wooden skid for the purpose of getting the dead horse from here to there. I had to use that for my last one as he was too lame to walk to the cemetery. We dropped him right outside the barn door. He was then placed on the skid (I skipped that part) and dragged down the hill. It is like Cleopatra on the Nile.

It is beyond tragic and I'm sorry you had to do it. I'm sorry I have to do it too.

goodhors
Dec. 22, 2010, 11:41 PM
We have dug the hole after the horse is put down. Having them beside the hole would be too hard for me to deal with. We have had to bring a couple home after they needed to be put down at the Vet's. Luckily the truck has a 12ft flatbed, so they fit on it well. Have to cover with a tarp and tied them down for hauling. Sorry, Vet can't cremate them there. He has to call a disposal service and I didn't want our horses ending there.

I wanted them both at home, buried where they had lived and done honest work for quite a long time. Just more fitting somehow.

Husband has dug the holes for the horses and buried them. He says he finds it theraputic, thinks about the good times we had with them during that time. Just the last good thing you can do for them.

Sad that they are gone, but you make that passing as easy as possible for them, take your comfort from that.

Calvincrowe
Dec. 23, 2010, 12:36 AM
I am so sorry for your loss! It is never easy, and the aftermath can be every bit as hard as the actual deed.

I have had the honor of being with my old pony and a mare when their time came. I had to hand dig a hole for my pony (well, the tractor bucket got us down about a foot). That was wicked hard, both physically and emotionally. I'd had her more than 20 years. We let her graze rich, green spring grass and eat tons of carrots then walked her over to the area. It was very difficult, but it is our last responsibility to our horses--to be there, to help them to the next good place, to do the right thing, mercifully and peacefully. Every horse owner should plan for this eventuality. Don't leave it for others to do.

Aelfleah Farm
Dec. 23, 2010, 12:36 AM
The first time we had to dispose of a dead horse was the day after Christmas 10 years ago. We had to tarp the body for two days until we found someone with a backhoe that would come dig the hole over a holiday weekend. The horse, a healthy 2yo gelding, died in his pasture from causes unknown. The temperature made it possible to wait the two days. The hole was dug in a convenient spot and the horse had to be dragged to the hole.

The next year I had a mare that was to be euthanized. She was led to near where the hole would be (beside the grave of the first) - a relative was bringing a trackhoe over from his job site after work. The vet euthanized her near her burial site. She was not anxious, and the 5 pounds of carrots I fed her while walking to the pasture helped. She was colicking, not a surgery candidate, and she was no longer responding to anything short of surgery. Vet gave her enough drugs to make her pain free for the short walk, and pain free enough to scarf her carrots. She was still crunching when she went down.

Those two graves pretty much took up any available space. Any other space either had septic lines or large trees or soil not compatible with graves (we have layered clay and sugar sand with a lot of solid rock). I'd be afraid of not remembering exactly where the older graves are and digging into one of them if I try to put another one in that area. Thankfully we live in a very rural area with a huge scavenger population. Two horses that died (not chemical euthanized), where carried deep deep deep into the woods and left. With each one, I went to the spot 6-8 months to bury what of the remaining bones I could find. I kept a hoof capsule of my first driving horse. It was laquered and a small brass plate attached with his name and such. It sits on a book shelf, next to his last competition photo. I have the skull of the next horse, it sits on a shelf in the tack room above the bridle rack. I have used it to show kids how a bit sits in a horses mouth, why the nose is so tender, what teeth look like.

The filly that was stillborn this spring was also carried into the woods. Given her size, I wasn't surprised that I didn't find her remains when I looked last month.

I'm not sure where I can bury another if I have to euthanize one again. Obviously I can't leave one that had been euthanized in the woods to poison the coyotes. I hope to not have to worry about that problem for many many years. My oldest now is only 21.

ACP
Dec. 23, 2010, 12:39 AM
It is very difficult to do. I agree, a mild tranq makes it easier on the horse. I always cry.

It is the last kind thing you can do, I tell people that over and over.

ReSomething
Dec. 23, 2010, 02:47 AM
I'm not sure if I will be able to divorce the horse I love from the one I must bury, mentally, when the time comes. My trainer has buried many horses over the years and it is never easy. My condolences on your loss.

yellow-horse
Dec. 23, 2010, 04:14 AM
I am sorry for your loss.
I've put down 2 horses both unplanned, the 1st one the worst part was what to do after she was dead, it was July, it was Sunday and I had just moved into the area so didn't know anyone,I met all my new neighbors by knocking on their door, crying and a mess and saying hi my name is linda i'm your new neighbor do you have a back hoe so i can bury my horse, it was horrible, my husband finally got in the car and found a construction site and bless that man with the backhoe he left and came to bury my horse. I helped with the whole process of him moving her and placing her in the hole, it was a relief actually to get it done.
The next horse i called a local tow truck driver who was able to wench her onto his truck and take her to a dump where you could dispose of a large carcass. I had to leave her body in the yard with a tarp overnight because she was put down at about 10 pm and the dump was closed. After the 1st horse was put down I did find out about the dump and had numbers of people that would haul a large carcass.I don't think I would bury anymore here, preferred this method.
Neither thing was easy.

Lori T
Dec. 23, 2010, 05:08 AM
I am so sorry for your loss.
I tell people exactly what you are saying...putting a horse down IS NOT the same as euthanizing a dog or cat...physically or emotionally.
I have had to put down 4 of my own. Three we were able to bury. I was with 3 of those up to the very end but COULD NOT watch them be buried. I had the hole dug afterward. The worst was my youngest daughter's eventer. He was in poor health, complications from lyme. Unfortunately, Tropical Storm Faye had just come through and we were 10 inches under water. Everyone was flooded. My vet knew someone who came and picked his body up and cremated the body on his property. We were devestated that we could not bury him. That being said, I am now contemplating euthanizing same daughter's first horse next week. She is in her 30's and in declining health. I am off of work all next week and would prefer to send her over the rainbow bridge before I find her in a situation where she is unable to get up and I have an emergency. But the farm I am leasing is in the pathway of a new tollroad and within 2 years will be plowed under. So I am considering taking her to an equine clinic in Ocala and have her euthanized there and let them dispose of her body. Having euthanized 2 within the last year, I also don't know if I can emotionally go through another death and having to go through organizing another burial, especially knowing that the remains will be dug up and destroyed in a few years....it really is draining.

PRS
Dec. 23, 2010, 08:46 AM
I'm so sorry for your loss. When we had to have my daughter's horse put down due to colic we walked him to a quiet rear corner of our property where the vet euthanized him. My husband then arranged for our neighbor, who has a back hoe, to come and bury him. My husband stayed to handle the burial and pay the neighbor for his time. My daughter and I joined some friends at a horse show for the day where we knew we would find people who understood what we were experiencing.
When my daughter in law's old horse's time came we had time to make arrangements. We had the neighbor come ahead of time to dig a hole at his convenience then we made arrangements for the vet to come on a day when the neighbor would be available to complete the burial. We walked the mare back to an area near the hole and the vet came and euthed her. My husband then went to help the neighbor bury her. Having the time to get the arrangments coordinated is so much less stressful than in an emergency situation when you are so traumatized.

Whenever we have had to have small animals euthed we always make arrangements to pick up their bodies. They all get buried at home. BTW....I love my vet. I have yet to get a bill for any of the small animals he euthanized for me.

Mozart
Dec. 23, 2010, 10:37 AM
My condolences.

Thank you for this thread and I am so glad that people are posting nitty gritty details as I am thinking about this topic a fair bit lately. I have a 24 yr old TB that has a very bad heart murmur and chronic lymphangitis in one leg. He is happy and comfortable. Today. I am trying to think ahead though. My vet recently commented that "planned euthanasia is a good thing". Hint hint.

My complicating factor is that we are not in our "forever home" and we will be moving in a year or two to a new property about 20 minutes away, so I would like to bury him there. I'm not sure it is fair to transport an old horse to a completely unfamiliar place and put him down there. So I am trying to think ahead and figure out how to accomplish this.

OP, I'm sorry for your and your daughter's loss, especially at this time of year.

Zu Zu
Dec. 23, 2010, 10:41 AM
Thoughts and prayers and huge hugs for your entire family ~ barn and house ~

RIP Handsome Hunter ~ knowing you will always be loved and remembered ~

Pennywell Bay
Dec. 23, 2010, 10:41 AM
So sorry.

ThirdCharm
Dec. 23, 2010, 10:52 AM
We lost two old horses this winter/spring.... nothing like having to dig a huge hole with a Bobcat while crying your eyes out. One dropped dead of a stroke, but the other one we kept going with IV fluids (35 years old, vet suspected strangulating lipoma) until DH could get home to say goodbye. Could not say which was worse.

Jennifer

LauraKY
Dec. 23, 2010, 11:08 AM
My complicating factor is that we are not in our "forever home" and we will be moving in a year or two to a new property about 20 minutes away, so I would like to bury him there. I'm not sure it is fair to transport an old horse to a completely unfamiliar place and put him down there. So I am trying to think ahead and figure out how to accomplish this.


In Lexington, Kentucky, we have a company named the Horse Hearse. They will pick up for disposal, cremation or to be moved. Perhaps there is a livestock removal company in your area that could move the body for you.

Forewarned, you probably will not want to watch. We've only euthanised one horse on our farm and we suggested the owner leave before his body was removed. I thought it would be better for her to remember him as he was.

Hinderella
Dec. 23, 2010, 11:10 AM
I'm so sorry for your loss. Last year I had to put down my 26 year old mare when she colicked. I was fortunate that the owner of the property where I board was willing to let her be buried there, and that I knew someone with the equipment to dig the hole. I walked her most of the way out to the spot, crying, but the vet and his assistant turned me back at the last minute so I could remember her up and walking...I'll never know if that was best, but they're good people, and I know they took good care of her in those last few minutes.
Here in cold New England, you have the additional difficulty of frozen ground...there are times when even a backhoe has difficulty digging the hole. A couple in Connecticut has tried to get permits to open an equine crematorium, but I don't think they've succeeded.
Fortunately, while you know it's time, the horse does not know what is coming and does not fear it. Even the sight of a hole has no scary meaning for them.

Auventera Two
Dec. 23, 2010, 11:18 AM
I am so sorry for your loss :(

When I put Libbey down this Spring, I made the apt. for the vet first, then the backhoe about 1-2 hours later (he gave me a time range). We walked her back to the corner of the pasture under the trees, he euthanized her, and the backhoe guy showed up shortly thereafter to dig the hole and bury her. It went very smoothly and I was glad to have done it that way.

I did NOT want the backhoe guy here first, because I didn't want her watching what he was doing and being upset about the equipment in her pasture.

Only thing I would have done differently would be to take the other horses back there after she was dead so they could see for themselves. The stallion especially. They all walked the fences and called toward the woods for days. It was so sad. They saw her go back to the trees and then never come out.

Once they were allowed in that field again, I had found them standing around the grave on a few different ocassions.

I agree that it is healing to take care of the arrangements yourself. It makes it more final and gives closure. I couldn't watch Libbey actually being put into the hole, but I did take photos from a distance of the backhoe digging.

The day she was to be put down I took a vacation day and spent the day feeding her all the grain, alfalfa and treats she wanted. I let her out into the rich green grass to graze as much as she wanted. I took photos of her out there grazing and the dogs laying in the grass beside her. I tried to get every expression, every angle. And I even took closeups of her bad leg to remind myself later that I really did do the right thing for her. I didn't ever want to doubt myself (well, it wasn't really THAT bad.) It was and I need to remember it later.

2ndyrgal
Dec. 23, 2010, 11:19 AM
I swore I wouldn't, couldn't do it again. DH (who was raised a city kid) was there at the end and gallantly did the final thing he could do, which was dig the hole and lay him to rest. He built 4 board fence around the site, which God love him, was nearly the size of a two car garage, and had the landscapers plant a memorial garden.

This spring, I was again confronted with an impending loss of a beloved pony. DH dug the hole, met us up the hill, and again, carefully laid our friend in as gently as possible, and as he's gotten quite good with the backhoe and thinks things thru, actually, is possible.

He prefers to have me leave so I don't have to watch, it's his final act of kindness for a faithful servant.

He loves them that much, that the most important thing, was to let them come home to be buried where we can remember them every time we look out back.

Fairview Horse Center
Dec. 23, 2010, 11:37 AM
we will be moving in a year or two to a new property about 20 minutes away, so I would like to bury him there. I'm not sure it is fair to transport an old horse to a completely unfamiliar place and put him down there. So I am trying to think ahead and figure out how to accomplish this.

We had a horse kicked in the Hunt field, and he needed to be put down ASAP. The owner wanted to bury him at the farm, so they loaded him in the trailer, closed the ramp, and the vet dropped him in there. I also did this to one of mine that I needed to transport to the state Ag lab to get a necropsy done. It is easy for a backhoe with chains to get them out of a 2 horse trailer - espcially if the back does not have a permanent post in the center.

mypaintwattie
Dec. 23, 2010, 01:49 PM
I'm so sorry for your loss. Condolences to you and your daughter.

I board, and because of regulations we are not allowed to bury animals on the property, so we have the choice of having the horse picked up and the body disposed of or cremated. When we euthanized my 27 year old in June we had her cremated. Her ashes are in a big popcorn tin sitting next to my desk, where I can still talk to her when I need to.

My small animals I bury.

Chardavej
Dec. 23, 2010, 02:14 PM
I knew I was gonna have to put down Babydoll soon, and I live in the middle of the city, housing developments all around and a creek on one end of the property. City ordinances don’t allow livestock burial and it’s like a 30k fine, one I can’t afford to pay if I’m caught, and with a subdivision down one whole side of my land, I’m always observed. So we can’t bury them here.

I planned in my head how it was to be done MONTHS in advance, over and over, and when the time came, having thought it out beforehand, it was much easier.

I groomed her, grazed her, gave her all the cookies, carrots and apples she wanted till she didn’t want anymore. The vet tranq’d her and then I walked away and sat on a haybale in the barn and cried till it was done. One of my boarders stayed with her. He said she went down very quiet. I took a tarp, balled or wrinkled one side and put that side along her back, we gently rolled her over onto the tarp and I then unrolled the tarp on the other side of her and we wrapped her body up.

I hooked the small flatbed trailer to the truck and jackknifed it, then hubby put the tractor at the front of the trailer and hooked ropes to the tarp and very slowly dragged the tarp up the ramp onto the trailer bed. She wasn’t ruffled and it went smoothly. We tied her in and covered her well, didn’t want some child to see her little hooves coming out from under the tarp. We had to take her to the landfill.

For extra $$ if you want they will dig a hole to the side and put your horse in, which I opted to do. I didn’t want her just tossed on top of the trash. I couldn’t handle that, so she’s buried. Not at home where I would like her (we have our own bulldozer and backhoe and could do it) but she’s buried.

tiburon
Dec. 23, 2010, 04:51 PM
Sorry for your loss....

After the horse is put down, whether near the final spot or near the barn, fold the legs up towards the mid section and lay the head upon the front legs...(.Like a sleeping puppy in a circle )
By doing this the size of your 'package' becomes smaller and easier to handle.
( it is an easier image to remember rather than a splayed out stiff thing )
good luck, and merry merry to everyone who has had to cross this bridge with their animals

PNWjumper
Dec. 23, 2010, 05:48 PM
I'm so sorry for your loss.

I had my 4yo mare break a leg a few years ago and we couldn't get her anywhere near where we needed to bury her. I was there with her when she was put down....bawling my eyes out as she went down, but I had to go inside after that. My husband and a family friend (who rented and brought over a backhoe) managed to get her into the bucket of the backhoe and then back to the grave. My very stoic husband was profoundly disturbed by the force and manipulation it took to get the body into the bucket and then back to the grave. I wish we'd had time to arrange for a pickup (the soonest the pickup service could get to us was within "a few" days, which just didn't cut it in the July heat).

I agree with tiburon's tip. My vet had us leave the halter on and then tied my mare's head to her legs to make a "package" that was more moveable than a splayed out body. I also agree that it's harder to deal with the "removal" process than it is with a dog or cat.

SED
Dec. 23, 2010, 11:13 PM
Thank you for the many good thoughts and condolances. My daughter and I really appreciate it.

Somehow it also helps to know that others have had to deal with the awkwardness of dealing with such a loss, and still dealing with the practical difficulties.

I wish each of you a happy Christmas. Go hug your ponies! You can never take them for granted.

Gnalli
Dec. 24, 2010, 10:10 AM
I am so sorry for your loss.

hundredacres
Dec. 24, 2010, 10:14 AM
I'm very sorry for your loss.

I'm with Darlyn, who said she finds the burial healing. I think the ritual is very comforting for me....I have several horses buried on our farm and it's never been easy, but I feel better knowing where they are.

goeslikestink
Dec. 24, 2010, 10:51 AM
Today, we had to put down my daughter's retired hunter, who was almost 21. He had a heart murmur for many years, with no symptoms, but it had gotten worse lately, and the lack of blood flow was causing problems with his digestion and repeated "mini-colics".

At any rate, the hardest thing was having our neighbor come in with the back hoe to dig a hole while my boy was still alive and watching. Then my brave daughter led him down to the back of the farm where the hole was. I couldn't watch. My husband and the neighbor took care of it from there while I comforted my daughter.

But it made me realize that, along with the grief of putting down a beloved equine on the farm, is the practical "horror" of figuring out how to do it with such a large corpse. While it was his time, there is no doubt that I was influenced on the exact timing by the availability of people to help us. In a perfect world, I would have waited a little longer.

It is so different than when you have a dog put down at the vet, and then cremated. Or even when a horse dies at the vet or in a boarding stable and somehow the body is magically disposed of.

Somehow, the grief and guilt at the loss is worse this way, since you are having to plan the disposal of a body when all you really want to do is to grieve. Has anyone else ever felt this?

aall my horses that i have lost through old age or illness have been pts at home
then i know the jobs been done iknow where they are where they go and iam there with them all the way
then i arrange for depending on what been found either if they have pm then they are offered to the vets if something rare to research on as it could save another life, the other option is i get mr d funnell down to remove the horse if old and drug free then its food for the lions and tigers at howletts as a final service to save a nother speices by entering there food change which of course is natural to a horse as after all they are pray animals and meant to be eaten in the wild if sick or injured the last option if they have drugs in there boides due to ill health then they are crimated which is hugely expensive

camohn
Dec. 26, 2010, 09:15 AM
Aftter owning horse for many years and having (now) many horses....it happens at some point. For the old ones that are suffering from illness and arhthritis...I don't feel too awful. I am putting them out of their misery. The hardest ones were the young ones (our 5 year old stallion and a wenaling foal) that had broken a leg in a farm accident.. First they are suffering from a catastrophic injury (so the decision to put down is an easy one) but the loss of a young one is much harder for me. As to how....we don't have a backhoe. To pay someone to come with one would cost just as much as Valley Protien (rendering plant) to remove the body.

Fairview Horse Center
Dec. 26, 2010, 10:08 AM
we don't have a backhoe. To pay someone to come with one would cost just as much as Valley Protien (rendering plant) to remove the body.

Actually it costs us more as we also don't have a backhoe, but we are happy to pay for the service, to not have to send them off.

Daventry
Dec. 26, 2010, 10:57 AM
Somehow, the grief and guilt at the loss is worse this way, since you are having to plan the disposal of a body when all you really want to do is to grieve. Has anyone else ever felt this?


So sorry for your loss. We have had to put several horses down over the last 20 years and much preferred putting them down and burying them at home than leaving them at the vet clinic or having them hauled off to the rendering plant. Although, I always had the vet come and put them down. It may have been $200 out of my pocket, but they were put down quietly and peacefully, and that was worth it's weight in gold, as far as remembering how things went.

We normally had a back hoe come ahead of time to dig a grave, or come after everything was all said and done. I don't think I could have ever stood there with my horse while the grave was being dug. :cry:

If it's any consolation, think of it this way. He's buried peacefully on your farm...or he could have been hauled away to the rendering plant. I'm sure it will be much easier on your heart knowing he's resting on the farm. :sadsmile:

shawneeAcres
Dec. 26, 2010, 11:50 AM
AM sorry about your loss. My vet does not like to dig the hole first, she says it stresses the horse too much. We put down our 28 yr old appie last spring and first, quietly led him to where he would be buried, put him down, all veyr peacefull and had the backhoe person "on standby" He came within one half hour (a local farmer) and dug the hole. Much less tressful on everyone particularly the horse. Would recommend this very much rather than digging the hole first

hundredacres
Dec. 26, 2010, 01:08 PM
^ That's how we do it too. A new "hole" would stress, or intrigue the horse IMO.

skip_rainy_shi
Dec. 26, 2010, 08:15 PM
I found it easier when i had time to plan. i had 2 weeks to get things together, A great horse friend came with the backhoe man a few days before to see where i wanted the hole. they both came back that day 30 minutes before the vet came to dig the hole. my friend walked my guy for me as i was a mess. once the vet was done i went to the house and they finished things. it was hard but i did not want to have to get things together last minute or after. knowing my horse would have to lay on the ground waiting for someone to come would have been so much worse for me.

I am so sorry for your loss.

nypony
Dec. 27, 2010, 11:43 AM
I agree that it is not necessary to have the backhoe arrive beforehand as long as you put your horse to sleep in an area where the backhoe has room to manuever. When my thirty-year old gelding was put to sleep last year, the vet did sedate him first and it was a great comfort for me to be present for his peaceful passing. My dear husband and the backhoe operator fashioned a cargo net aound his body w/ a large loop to gently lower him into his grave ... the loop was placed around the backhoe's bucket which lifted & then lowered his body. "Diamond" was a kind & gentle horse that I had the pleasure of owning for 18 years and I felt his passing was handled w/ the dignity he deserved.

MediaMD
Dec. 27, 2010, 01:00 PM
I'm so sorry for your loss...and so thankful for this board. Because of the advice and comfort I got here I was able to handle the loss of my 26 yr old OTTB in September with a sense of control instead of chaos. You are among friends who care and deeply sympathize.

We live on a 3 1/2 acre farm on a high water table bordering a wildlife sanctuary so burying Jimmy here was not an option. On the appointed day (he was struggling more each year with his DLD and Cushings but the end came with an abscessed tooth inaccessible except invasive surgery) my DH bless his heart left the hospital to come home and be with me. We gave him Banamine and a full bucket of grain and he got right on the trailer...I sobbed the entire drive of about 15 minutes to a farm where I buy hay and where we would go to ride. The owner had the hole ready on the edge of the field on the tree line so we just grazed him in the deep grass until the vet arrived. That was the hardest part honestly...everyone just standing there waiting and watching me kissing his face and crying and crying. I handed off the lead rope and drove away and went to be with friends waiting with a glass of wine and hugs.

Knowing he was never afraid and with friends in a familiar place eased the pain of not burying him here surrounded by his buddies, which would have been my first choice along with having them say good bye but it just wasn't possible. If I had a 3 horse trailer I would have taken all 3 together but sadly I don't. Having my husband handle the final moments and his assurance that it was a gentle passing (even making sure that at rest he faced the field "so he could see you ride") was invaluable though. I hope you will lean on friends and family and allow your memories to be of him in life, not death.

<warm hugs>

foxhavenfarm
Dec. 27, 2010, 01:23 PM
I'm very sorry for your loss.

I'm with Darlyn, who said she finds the burial healing. I think the ritual is very comforting for me....I have several horses buried on our farm and it's never been easy, but I feel better knowing where they are.

We too have had several horses buried here. The most difficult was our two year old colt this past summer. All but one I buried myself and I do feel that it helped me to get through the terrible loss.

So sorry for your loss.

morganpony86
Dec. 27, 2010, 02:31 PM
I'm so incredibly sorry for your loss!! I can't imagine being in your

But I appreciate the thread. I have never been in that situation, but dread the day and have wondered about the "logistics". I appreciate everyone's replies.

TBPNW
Dec. 27, 2010, 08:09 PM
We've always had horses picked up by a rendering service. For me, it wasn't that difficult of a process to 'send them off'. However, when my homebred died, I wanted her buried on the farm. The body was actually first transported to a vet hospital for post mortem xrays. Back home, a loader took it to the burial spot. The backhoe work was done by a man with experience, and cannot say how grateful I was for it. It's odd to say, but he was like an artist digging the grave and lowering the body, even precise with body placement.

I had wondered if it'd be harder to have a 'grave'...would I avoid the spot. In the end, I plan on having every one buried if at all possible. There was no special marker, I just know that it is by a certain tree. The horses are free to walk over the grave, and I can imagine her as still being part of the herd- in some way.

sid
Dec. 27, 2010, 08:58 PM
This topic is one that I've found describes the "incongruency" of horses in our lives.

They are so BIG in life...that is the very thing that we love about them. Their power, their size, their wonderfulness. The BIG impact they have in our lives and in everything they do.

But when they die, this BIGNESS that we so love, works against us and them...often emotionally, and certainly physically.

Unlike our cats or dogs who we can pack up in a soft carrier and take them to the vet for their final moments, bury them at home and carry in our arms, when horses die dealing with sheer size of their bodies and "practicalities" of burial or removal is a jolt.

Dealing with the handling and reality of these matters does not match the grace and dignity that we so love about them when they are with us.

I've lost several of my best friends in the last year (and in the past) and it never gets any easier.

All my horses are buried here, and even though, after 25 years, I'm dealing with more of it now as my once youngsters are now getting old..and some have died.

The emotions we feel are always as big as they are, in life and in their death. And is especially when burying them. I will never get used to it.

God bless,

Susan

elysian*fields*farm
Dec. 27, 2010, 09:08 PM
First, let me say that I am so sorry for your loss and understand the complex emotions that you are experiencing. I have, through the years, dealt with making final arrangements for several horses.

I have felt "lucky" in that in every case the horse was able to be buried on the place it had lived except for one mare who died at the vet school.

Most recently in November, I had to have Barney a Percheron gelding who suffered a sudden and massive stroke euthanized. The hardest part for me was waiting with him (he was down, and could do nothing except breathe, blink and swallow) for the vet to arrive- she was at another emergency- a colic. I believe it was a comfort to him for me to be there with him, and once the vet arrived, he passed very serenely and quickly. The vet and I covered him with his turnout blanket, and she stayed with me until my neighbor with a backhoe arrived.

I did not have his grave dug in advance because my neighbor did not arrive until about 15 minutes after. He did a wonderful job of digging a 10 to 12 foot deep very large grave. He told me he would cover Barney with his blanket once he was placed in the grave, and for me to go up to my truck and wait until he had finished.

Poor Barney had just been here for a year and 11 days, but he had made a herd buddy- a 20 year old walking horse who was the only horse to stay near by his body, and then by his grave for a couple of days. Barney was about 28 years old. He rests near a tree that was a favorite place of his.

MY son had an elderly friend that passed away of cancer a couple of years ago. He had had five Arabians. Two of them had pre-deceased him. He made arrangements for my son to care for the remaining three, who will each be buried on the same hillside when the time comes. The friend left instructions to be cremated and to have his ashes scattered on that hillside so he will become part of the same earth as his horses. He could not be buried there because human remains could not legally be buried there unless the spot were designated as a human cemetery.

Please try not to feel guilty for doing this one last kindness that a person can do for a horse whose health and body is failing even though you had to deal with the logistics involved in burial. Please try to take some comfort in knowing that you all did a good thing for him. It was a final kindness.

wireweiners
Dec. 28, 2010, 01:28 PM
I have had to euthanize and bury at least 4 in the past two years. We were only able to plan one, Joe, a haflinger who had chronic laminitis. The vet put him down where we wanted him buried and then the backhoe guy dug the hole and buried him. Then we lost two colts to sleeping sickness over the Labor Day weekend. That was horrible as I could not find anyone with a backhoe to bury them. Finally my BIL's brother was able to borrow a backhoe and bury them. The last was our old Belgian mare, Tootie. She went down and we euthanized her where she lay. The backhoe guy came out the next day to bury her. Her pasture buddies guarded her while she was down and then guarded her body until she was buried.

There is a lovely essay called "Where to Bury a Dog". I think it applies to horses or any beloved pet. The gist of the essay is, it doesn't matter where you physically dispose of the body, the best place to bury them is in your heart, where you can recall them in an instant.

My condolences on your loss.

MunchkinsMom
Dec. 30, 2010, 09:23 PM
I'm so sorry for your loss. It is never easy.

The first horse I lost was a 2-year old with a compound fracture. I had only lived here for a year, and didn't have many contacts to find a backhoe, but luckily one of my good neighbors had one, and she and her husband came and dug the hole, and I had to help rig him up to be dragged to the hole. I was still in shock, and pretty much on autopilot, you find some inner strength to get through it. Because it was so sudden and shocking, I was adamant that he needed to be buried at home.

Early this year I lost my 6 year old gelding to chronic kidney disease. Because I had about a week to come to terms with his condition, I could be more objective about what to do with his remains, and I had him taken away instead of being buried at the farm. I do not regret this decision, as I felt that his soul would be with me always, and that his shell did not need to be here for that to happen.

The tough part was that the vet and the hauler usually try to co-ordinate the timing, but the hauler had a flat tire and was an hour late. So there was my poor dead horse laying in the field, with me sort of just wandering around and crying, and one of my lovely neighbors stopped to see if I needed help, he didn't realize that I had just had him put down. He was so kind.

The hauler was also incredibly kind and thoughtful, and after I paid him, he gently suggested that I go to the house, as I would not want my last memory to be of him being winched onto the truck. I was very grateful for that.

CHS
Dec. 31, 2010, 12:56 PM
I have a dead horse in my pasture as I type this. Bad colic. We're waiting on my neighbor to get home so we can take her out back. Can't bury her as the ground is frozen. Luckily we're in a very rural area and she will be taken out on the back 80. She was shot so no worries about animals taking care of things the natural way. It sucks for sure. Sorry about your daughters horse. It's never easy.

hundredacres
Dec. 31, 2010, 01:36 PM
CHS, sorry about your loss.....regarding the frozen ground: We had to bury one in Feb. and it was close to zero that week but it wasn't a problem getting a hole dug. The guy from the cemetery came and dug it for us and he said he's never had a problem with graves in the winter...hadn't thought of that :(.

CHS
Dec. 31, 2010, 01:46 PM
Thank you. I hear the machines going so I guess they are digging. Hopefully they can get down deep enough.

kookicat
Dec. 31, 2010, 02:01 PM
I'm so sorry. It's never easy.

When I lost Lilly, it was so sudden that I didn't have anything planned. In the end, I decided to have her cremated, then buried her ashes. I think I'd do that again.