Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2024

Death Is A Part Of Life

Owning a horse, in some ways, is like a marriage—you care for him in sickness and in health. And, sometimes, until death do you part. As difficult as this situation is, there are times when death becomes inevitable and we must say goodbye to a cherished partner and friend. But, as you may have already discovered if you’ve owned horses for any length of time, when you choose to euthanize a horse, it’s usually just the first step in lengthy process that can take many different paths.

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Owning a horse, in some ways, is like a marriage—you care for him in sickness and in health. And, sometimes, until death do you part. As difficult as this situation is, there are times when death becomes inevitable and we must say goodbye to a cherished partner and friend. But, as you may have already discovered if you’ve owned horses for any length of time, when you choose to euthanize a horse, it’s usually just the first step in lengthy process that can take many different paths.

In this year’s Horse Care Issue, we’ve developed a three-part article package that addresses euthanasia and what to do with your deceased horse’s remains. Written by Anne Lang, one of our most talented, trusted and credentialed freelancers, the package begins with “When Someday Becomes Today” (p. 12). In this article, Anne details the options horse owners have in euthanasia, dealing with the horse’s body, and the costs and legal aspects associated with each choice.

Anne’s two complementary articles, “The Grieving Process: Taking Care Of Yourself” (p. 26) and “In Their Own Words,” (p. 28) delve into the psychological aspects of losing a horse. Dr. Paul Haefner, a horseman and psychologist, talks about grief and the emotions that surface when faced with such a decision and what to expect in the aftermath of losing a horse. In addition, two longtime horse owners openly discuss the choices they made during the course of euthanizing their horses. For each person who has made this choice, the story is slightly different, but knowing and understanding what others have done and why might be of help if you someday face a similar situation.

I know that a few people will take exception to these articles, and some might even choose not to read them. And, yes, there are details that might make you cringe or shudder, but the information isn’t meant to offend. It’s provided so that if or when you face the loss of a cherished horse, you’ll have a basis of understanding that may make this difficult time easier.

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The decision to present these articles wasn’t made lightly. For many years we tabled the idea (once even after having an article prepared), thinking that such a topic wasn’t appropriate for a magazine focused on sport horse competitions. But, as we all know, even with the best care, attention and intentions, our horses are fragile. They have accidents at home, in the competition arena and even when retired.
 
Whether you choose to read these articles or not, I hope that you’ll retain this issue in an office file cabinet or the tack room. You just never know when the unimaginable could become reality.

Hopefully, the information we’ve provided will assist you and help to make a difficult situation more bearable. We all wish our animals could live forever. In a way they do, just deep in our hearts and in our fondest memories.

Tricia Booker

                

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