Elderly Owner/Horse=Euthanasia Debate with BO
I was called by the elderly owner's daughter the other day, with quite a dilemma. Here's the story-owner is going to be 87 soon, has been riding since she was 7 (God Bless her!)....Her husband died 1 1/2 years ago, but even before then she had pretty bad short term memory loss, and she is also blind in one eye from a horse accident-about 10 years ago now. So, for the last few years, her riding has been sporadic, with visits to the farm to see her horse.
The horse is 30 years old. He looks every minute of those years-they did 100 mile trail rides over weekends, etc., in years past. He has been well loved, and well used. When I saw him, last fall, I think, he was somewhat arthritic, and almost had a Cushing's type haircoat.
They are thinking he looks like this winter will be hard on him, maybe it's time.
Now that owner's short term memory is so bad-she'll forget her horseback ride within minutes, and given her age-and cost of care (she's in an Alzheimer's type unit), the family is thinking adopt out (!) the horse, or euth. I was called, because I trail ride, and all his (nice quality tack) gear goes with him. The BO is livid-he's been boarded there 3 years, and no question she's attached to him. BUT, the financial aspect is starting to drain the family, with owner's care being $$$. BO does not think he should be euth'd.
My advice was, that chances of him being adopted out are next to nil-unless you get some jerk who will take him straight to slaughter. He also has had his moments-like being a handful-he never was a beginner type mount, so no husband horse or anything like that. I have no stall to take him, and I can't board for free, if I did take him. They want me to get involved with this, kind of evaluate him, but I know BO, and I know she will not be too nice about this. But, she has a financial stake in this, too....Uggh! Hard to know what to say-or do. I did tell the family that, for the safety of owner, her health problems, and given the horses' age, I certainly would never think less of them if they euth'd. Hard decision!!
Thanks for your thoughts....
Just to let everyone know, no one has lied to the owner about anything. Her memory loss is pretty acute, someone has had POA over her affairs since her husband passed, 1 1/2 years ago. She repeats things every few minutes, and has done that for the last three years or so.
She rode her horse around the paddock last week. One of the daughters came in from out of town to visit that very day, owner said, "I haven't seen Dobbin in weeks". She has forgotten her husband of 60+ years, he faded from her memory shortly after he passed:no:. They met at age 12, and married as teenagers.
I would take the horse as a favor to the family, with them paying only for essentials, but I do not have a stall-I have my old retired mare, a gelding, and recently I adopted an 11 YO well trained, sound horse that was in danger. My turnouts have no shelter, and I won't leave any horse out alone in inclement weather. From seeing the horse last year, and the hearing comments of those who have recently, I agree it may be time. It is just not my decision to make. I just wish the BO would be supportive, as she has ridden with this owner for around 20 years! I almost want to call, but don't want to get yelled at too, like the daughter did.
I appreciate everyone posting with suggestions and comments, needed to bounce thoughts off someone(s). Thanks for the replies.