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Putting an 11 year old horse down.

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  • #41
    these difficult decisions. Because you care about Buster, you will make the right decision.

    I had to make "the decision" for two horses and two cats within the past few years. It isn't easy, but I feel that I did make the right decisions - the best ones I could, and I feel at peace. You will, too.


    • #42
      You might consider donating him to a therapuetic riding program and paying for his shoeing yourself. You could retain control over his shoeing, and I am sure that the program would be happy to have someone else pay the expense.

      Shoeing is the least of the monthly expense of keeping a horse (although beware, here in NorCal I pay $175 for shoes -- although others at my barn pay between 125-150 for basic shoeing).


      • #43
        While it is commendable that you want to do your best by this guy... you are being unrealistic. It seems to me that no matter WHAT you do with him, you want to retain final say so and knowledge of what he is doing. That just isn't so! Once you relinquish control, you essentially have NO control over what gets done to him. Sad to think about in many cases, but it's the truth. THAT is what you have to deal with. Can you give him away or sell him AND deal with the fact that you have no say in what becomes of him? Once you answer that question your choice on his future becomes rather easy. If you can deal with the knowledge that his control/fate is in the hands of another and you have nothing more to do with him, then you are free to pursue Cornell, or Auburn, or whatever. If you cannot, then you must, for the sake of wasted energy, dismiss those as alternatives and decided what YOU can do (which is either, find a good home for him via a friend or whatever where you are essentially boarding him regardless of his/your physical location).

        Good luck whatever you decide. I'm not envious of your position at all. I have a 15yo mare that I can't stand the thought of what will happen when she has to be retired.
        "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

        "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike


        • #44
          elizabeth: I guess I'm not understanding clearly how sound/unsound your horse is. That's one of the problems with communicating via cyberspace: you cannot hear the intonations in someone's voice, or ask for an immediate clarification.

          Horses are very much like people in dealing with pain. I, for example, had colon surgery ten days before the year-end championship show, and though I could barely walk, I snuck out to the barn and rode, just to see if I could stay in the saddle without passing out long enough to make it around a hunter course. My husband, on the other hand, gets a headache and you'd think he had a brain tumor.

          Some horses do remarkably well with low grade chronic pain, especially if it can be controlled with low doses of bute. Only you and those who know your horse can see the signs that tell you your horse is suffering: listlessness, lack of appetite, obviously lifting weight off his sore foot/feet while standing, lying down a lot to keep the weight off his feet, a change in attitude, etc. With Beezer's two old show horses, I had to be the one to tell her, "It's time." One would have paralyzing back spasms so bad that I'd have to run out with an IV shot of Banamine to get it under control. The other one finally got to where it spent hours lying down to relieve pain in his joints (and that WAS on 4 tabs of bute a day). It was no longer possible for them to just amble around being lawn ornaments.

          It's obvious you're really deliberating over this, but I'll bet in your heart of hearts you already know the best decision.


          • #45
            If bute is used right it can help horses for years.
            We have kept horses on bute for years, with no problems. The trick is bute for 4 days off for 3 days, and 3 to 4 grams once a day. NOT 1 or 2 grams split up.
            They get no ulcers this way.
            Nerving, in my opinion is fine. Find someone that does a lot of them. It is a simple and easy procedure, if the right Vet does it. Standing up is the way ours are done. it is about a 45 min surgery.
            The only thing to be careful of, are abcesses in the feet. Keep off rocky ground. We have had horses jump, hunt,race, till they were in their 20's that have been nerved.


            • #46
              I just wanted to add, through edit, that if you decided to go the donation route, this was my experience. If he is sound or capable of being comfortable, perhaps retaining control through a disabled program or lesson program would be better for him.

              I had an old A circuit show pony that was in his early thirties. He was out babysitting the youngsters(his favourite job) and came in one day with what turned out to be edema around his girth area. The vet took a look and kept an eye on it. He didn't seem upset or uncomfortable, so we left things as they were and the vet checked him periodically. He slowly started to loose weight and it became evident that he was starting to fail.

              Our vet suggested we donate him to the University of Guelph Equine program. He said they rarely get to study the (failing) heart of a living horse. With assurances that I could visit all day every day if I wanted, I consented. It was understood that as long as he was eating, comfortable and in no pain, we would continue. He was there for seven days. In that time he was spoiled and loved by all and especially by the daughter of the vet handling him. He was noticeably very content and happy. On the seventh day he failed and was euthanized immediatly. They asked my permission to do so before I could get there so that he would not suffer.

              It was a good ending and fine experience for a fabulous pony.

              I have no regrets.

              On another note, I think I have recounted my other experience with UofG which I thought they handled beautifully as well. My sisters hunter corked himself playing in the paddock one day. Nothing unusual about it. It was cleaned and attended to.

              Ten days after corking himself, he was humanely destroyed at Guelph, suffering from Necrotizing Faceitis(flesh eating disease). His immune system shut down and the outlook for survival and being able to walk was estimated to be miraculous if he survived another 24 hours. He would never trot or canter again, assuming he could walk. He would have had to have had skin graphs. In short, he would not have been able to live the life of a horse, even a lame one, and would essentially have been three legged. All this is before financial considerations.

              UofG was again, absolutely fantastic. The care was second to none. We were called constantly with updates and told up front what needed to be done and why, in language we could understand. He was handled constantly by the same people which calmed him down considerably.

              I have the utmost respect for this facility.

              [This message was edited by LCR Scott on Mar. 05, 2001 at 01:33 PM.]
              And God took a handful of southerly wind, blew his breath upon it, and
              created the horse.\" Bedouin legend


              • #47
                Elizabeth-when I first read (in another post of yours), that you were considering putting an 11 year old horse down, I thought" Jeez, what a spoiled unfeeling jerk." You didn't indicate that Buster had navicular and I jumped to the conclusion that you were simply callous and uncaring. I mention this as a reminder to all how easy it is to misinterpret comments in the cyber world.

                That said, my philosophy has always been that it is the quality not quantity of the life that counts.


                • #48
                  Elizabeth- I am so sorry for your delima. What a difficult decision to make. I gave my 17yr TB away early last year. They promised me the world about his care. My trainer, at the time, knew the aunt of this person and said he would have a good home. About 3 months later I happened to be in the neighborhood so I stopped by. I had never seen my horse in such 'bad' condition. No longer bright eyed. Manure caked all over him and was DEAD lame. Needless to say they called me about 3 days later and gave him back. He is now at a nice barn with someone that takes great care of him. So there are two sides of the coin.

                  But, if you decide to move Buster out to So. Cal, the place I used to board my other horse is decent - NOT a show barn and CHEAP!! It is in the hills of Lake View Terrace (near Hansen Dam Equestrian Center) They feed decent alfalfa and oat. You can have a choice of a 12X12 box, 12X24 breezway barn (pipes), and across the street or up above they have a lot of different wierd sizes...like 12x40 pipes, 24X36 etc. The barn manager is ok. However, they have two nice women that run their own english and western pleasure school. They teach the basics, W-T-C and X rails. One of my friends still boards there and if you put Buster in the 12X24 breezeway, there is a lot of people traffic and everyone says hi to all the horses and gives them carrots. It is a real homey barn. Who knows, maybe the women that run the school may have use for something like Buster and maybe eventually be able to free lease him to a student.

                  There is also a nice pasture, I think it is like 300 acres on the north side in Chatsworth. I think the cost is reasonable, but I don't know much about how the place is run.

                  There is also a retirement home in Tujunga Canyon, Sun Valley where your horse is turned out with a small band of horses during the day. Then called back to their stalls for dinner and blanketing, etc at night.

                  If you are interested in any of the above, you can e-mail me and I'll pass on the names and phone numbers.

                  Good luck on your decision!


                  • #49
                    It will be difficult. Should you go the route of adopting out, there are so many wonderful places that are realistic about the potential for a comfortable life for your animal. Do the best thing for your horse and do the research, make your decision and try to not have second guesses work you over.

                    Look into the many equine rescue and adoption agencies available. Most (especially the reputable ones) will be brutally frank with you about what is right and wrong in your horses situation.

                    Steer clear of the agencies that put a prominent price tag on their adoption animals. The most sincere rescue organizations will save any horse without putting cost first but only if the animal will have a happy and comfortable life. That is why they try so hard to solicite funding for their operations and limit the number of horses they are responsible for.

                    In doubt, ask your vet or your state's veterinary licensing authority for a list of rescue or adoption agencies. They will know which ones are shady.

                    http://www.equinenet.org/ has many links to equine rescue sites but don't limit yourself to places that have internet access. Steer clear of places that are obviously reselling the horse, with the "adoption fee" listed. It takes a load of money to operate a rescue organization. Reputable ones spread that cost out evenly and don't charge varying fees per horse. They will be far more concerned with how well the adoptive party is able to provide, not how much they can get for the horse.
                    "If you would have only one day to live, you should spend at least half of it in the saddle."


                    • #50
                      I don't know what you've done with the horse, as this post is really old- but let us know. Why don't you give him to someone on a free lease, where you retain ownership of the horse? That way, if anything goes wrong you could send him to Cornell [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img] although it should be a last resort. They could pay for everything, yet not own the horse so if he ever got into a situation that you were unhappy with you could go to another option. Good luck...

                      Valerie's home page


                      • #51
                        Actually, they were able to get Buster sound, and he is now living outside of Los Angeles, in Moorpark! Elizabeth had him flown here on Thursday, and my trainer picked him up from the airport. I haven't gotten to meet either of them yet...I'll at least get to meet Buster tomorrow when I bring my horse home from the show! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]


                        • #52
                          How cool is that!!!! Go Buster!!! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]
                          \"Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and, once it has done so, he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.\" -- Ralph Waldo E


                          • #53
                            That's great! I'm so glad he didn't wind up at Cornell. Good luck, and have fun.

                            Valerie's home page


                            • #54
                              I saw this thread iin March but was mostly lurking then, and had no significant contribution. I was so sad to read it. Sice them I have "met" Elizabeth here on the board and found that her horse was right here in my area. I am SO happy that he's doing well and Elizabeth's post about air transit was about Buster. Its nice to hear of a happy ending.
                              F O.B
                              Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                              Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


                              • #55
                                Theraputic riding centers: I have ridden with these. A high maintenance horse is not what most are looking for, since they survive off of donations. Double check with the center you are looking at.

                                Elizabeth, if you are serious about having to give your horse up, please email me.
                                We are still looking for a trail horse for my husband to ride on. We would be happy with a free lease should the situation work out. I can let you know more details if you have any interest. Lori
                                Proud to have two Takaupa Gold line POAs!
                                Takaupas Top Gold
                                Gifts Black Gold Knight


                                • #56
                                  I'm so glad that this situation worked out for the best! As a certified therapeutic riding instructor, and NARHA Region Chair, I feel like I have to comment on the donating horses issues. It seems that every time something comes up about a lame horse, lots of suggestions appear to donate to a therapeutic riding program. Believe me, we're very grateful to be thought of, but in most cases, horses with serious lameness problems are not useful in a therapeutic riding program. Imagine teaching up-downers on a lame horse. Okay, now imagine that your up-downer has serious balance issues-he/she can't tell if they're leaning 45 degrees to one side. Or they have very low muscle tone, and it's very hard for them to stand up in their stirrups even in an even rhythm. It's very hard to deal with a lame horse in a therapy situation. Yes, there are programs that have a use for a "walk-only" horse, but they are few and far between. More typical is the program with 1-3 walk-only students. Not nearly enough to justify a separate horse for them. Many programs are supporting at least 3-4 horses, often paying board along with other horse expenses. All on donations. Believe me, it's not easy to come up with the money for lots of "extra care," such as therapeutic shoeing, medications, or excessive vet work. I don't want to make it sound like our horses are not well cared for; in most programs they are, and it can be a fantastic retirement home for a horse. But the program is really there to serve the riders, not the horses, and the horses really need to have some level of soundness to be an asset to the program. I don't want to discourage people from calling riding centers about donating their horse, but please try to understand where we're coming from, too.


                                  • #57
                                    Wow, I just read this thread from the beginning without looking at the dates of the messages. I didn't realize it was an old thread! Thought it was a brand new one that had gotten a lot of posts right away LOL.

                                    AAjumper's message gave me goosebumps! I am SO happy to hear that Buster is now in CA with Elizabeth! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] What a great turn this story took!!!

                                    Lara - Thank you for posting your message about donating horses to therapeutic programs. It's very helpful. I for one wasn't aware of how important it is that the horses used in the programs travel evenly. It makes perfect sense.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      I so, so, so meant to post the good news as soon as it happened. And by the "good news," I mean Buster is here, Buster is here. Thank you everyone for your good wishes. I could not BE any happier!!

                                      Just to bring everyone up to speed, after I posted this thread in March and got everyone's views, I decided to give Buster to Cornell. I just couldn't stand the thought of sending Buster to meet a fate that I could not control. Better he have an ending I could control. So I called Cornell and told them to expect Buster in May or in September.

                                      Then I spoke with Jumphigh83, my trainer, who was in Ocala, and she said "whatever you want to do, elizabeth, I will back you up. but give me some time with him - I can make him sound when I get back from Florida."

                                      I agreed, and jumphigh83 got back from Florida in the middle of March, and she took control of the situation. She put Buster on a regimen of Bute (four, then three, then two, then one per day, then alternating days), she watched his turn-out, and she made sure he was ridden - either just walking or w-t or later w-t-c. ( Mind you, she did not charge me a dime more than normal for all this! ) She told me little bits and pieces of the plan as it progressed, but she kept me just enough in the dark so that I didn't obsess or worry. Whenever we spoke, she was positive.

                                      Within three weeks of jumphigh83 taking control, Buster was w-t-c sound, within five weeks he was basically sound (though "ehhh" in the corners), and within six weeks he was almost 100%.

                                      At that point, all notions of giving Buster away left me. I couldn't do that to a sound horse. I decided to keep him - even though he was on the east coast - he was sound, and he was happy. Paying board and bills for a horse that was 3,000 miles away was a small price to pay for the relief of having a sound, ALIVE horse.

                                      Unfortunately, in late April, the little girl who was riding Buster 2 days a week fractured a vertebra while riding her horse so she had to stop riding Buster. Then, two weeks ago, the other girl who was riding him three days a week sent me an e-mail saying "Buster is too much for me, now that I am the only one riding him."

                                      Though I normally would have FREAKED out with that news (since I was in CA and had no clue how to otherwise get Buster taken care of), I actually saw the e-mail as a blessing. My new boyfriend had been asking me DAILY for the past four weeks why my horse was on the east coast and I was on the west coast, and I had been making excuses. ( "We'll bring him out after the summer, when it is cooler" or "I might move back east" or "Jumphigh83 is the only trainer who has the patience to deal with Buster's soundness issues." ) Now that I no longer had a rider for him, it was like a message from God that now was the time to bring him out.

                                      I still, however, was hedging my bets: Would I be able to find a shipper? The truck trip took 6 days. . . etc., etc. The flight brokers were so unpredictable since they could only do a load with three horses. . . . And was Buster truly sound enough to do the 6 day truck trip?? How was I going to get Buster's trunks packed? Maybe we should wait until Thanksgiving, when I went home and could pack him.

                                      David (the new boyfriend) quickly took control, saying "Elizabeth, call a flight broker, and get this horse out here that way. You are not putting that horse on a truck for six days." I tried to explain to him that flights were hard to get this time of year, but he refused to shut up until I called a flight broker (Alex Nichols). The surprise? The very day after I called the broker, they called back to say Buster could go seven days later.

                                      In response to my next fear that we'd never get all Buster's stuff shipped out here, David said "ask someone to pack his stuff. If they forget to ship something, we'll buy new stuff out here." In response to my fear that I would never be able to get Buster to Newark cheaply, David said "what's another $400? Suck it up."

                                      From there, the pieces fell right into place: AAJumper's trainer had a spot open in her barn (the biggest stall in the barn with an attached pen (good for Buster's arthritic bones)), Jumphigh83 totally took charge of getting Buster to Newark (even though she was in the middle of an AWAY(!!) show), AAJumper's trainer totally took care of getting Buster from LAX to the farm (even though she was in the middle of a show!), and my parents drove to the barn to pack all of my stuff (even though they have no clue what to pack for a horse). It was perfect - every single worry ( "how do I get him to the airport," "how do I get him home," "how do I get him packed???" ) totally took care of itself. Not to get overly religious, but it is clear that this move was directed by a force other than me. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

                                      Fast forward to last Thursday: I got a cell phone call from AAJumper's trainer saying she had gotten the precious cargo (BUSTER!) at LAX, and she was on the way home. I took Friday off and went to see Buster. He is there, he is happy, and I am thrilled.

                                      And having gone through this past winter of lameness, the good news is that I now have insight: Every time I have brought Buster to a new barn, he comes up lame. I have never understood it, and I have always freaked out. Having seen what he did in the winter, though, I totally understand now - Buster ran like an idiot on Friday and Saturday in the turn-out pen, because he was in a new exciting place. Given that that is how he made himself DEAD LAME this past winter (which is what started this thread back in March), I was prepared for him to be lame, and I was Zen about it.

                                      He has been on 4 grams of Bute for Thurs., Fri., and Sat., and he is getting his legs wrapped at night. I have made my peace with the fact that he might be lame for the next seven days. I am totally prepared to be calm and to explain to AAJumper's trainer (my new trainer) that this is how Buster operates, and he might be lame for a week, and we might want to inject his hocks in a week or two, when he stops being lame and is ready to begin work.

                                      (I say "when he stops being lame," but he actually is not lame. He was a bit gimpy yesterday, but we found out that he has not been EATING his Bute b/c he doesn't like the feed that the Bute is mixed with. So, given the running he did the first two days he was here, he, by rights, should be DEAD LAME, and he is only mildly gimpy (thank God, knock on wood, etc.))

                                      I realize this is long and rambling, but I wanted to share with all of you the good news. You all were so good to me when I struggled to figure out what to do, back in March. Who would have thought things would work out like this? Granted, Buster might be lame when he comes off Bute in a couple days, but now I know that no matter how lame he is, with a program and patience, it is very likely fixable.

                                      Thank you all for your support. Without this network on the BB, I would have been lost in March. LOST. And, without Jumphigh83 and AAJumper, this story would have had a very different ending. Many thanks to all of you for the support, both back in March and now. I am so lucky to have all of you. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]


                                      • #59
                                        Elizabeth, I am so happy to hear about your happy ending. What a wonderful thing for all involved. Buster is a very lucky horse and I sure do hope that you and he have many happy years together. The people here on the forum are wonderful, aren't they? They always know what words to say and they stick with you, all the way through a crisis. Thank goodness too, for those closest to you during all this, Jumphigh, your parents, your fiance, you needed that complete suppore, without a single weak link.

                                        You, Ms. Elizabeth are a very lucky lady!!!
                                        If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
                                        Desmond Tutu


                                        • #60
                                          If he is in a lot of pain, I would donate him to the University. I'm sorry if you have to, and make sure you give him a hug and a kiss from me [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] !

                                          ~*Megan Black*~ [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]