Forum rules and no-advertising policy

As a participant on this forum, it is your responsibility to know and follow our rules. Please read this message in its entirety.

Board Rules

1. You're responsible for what you say.
As outlined in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, The Chronicle of the Horse and its affiliates, as well Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd., the developers of vBulletin, are not legally responsible for statements made in the Forums.

This is a public forum viewed by a wide spectrum of people, so please be mindful of what you say and who might be reading it--details of personal disputes may be better handled privately. While posters are legally responsible for their statements, the moderators may in their discretion remove or edit posts, though are not legally obligated to do so, regardless of content.

Users have the ability to modify or delete their own messages after posting. Moderators generally will not delete posts, threads or accounts unless they have been alerted and have determined that a post, thread or user has violated the Forums' policies. Moderators do not regularly independently monitor the Forums for such violations.

Profanity, outright vulgarity, blatant personal insults or otherwise inappropriate statements will not be tolerated and will be dealt with at the discretion of the moderators.

Users may provide their positive or negative experiences with or opinions of companies, products, individuals, etc.; however, accounts involving allegations of criminal behavior against named individuals or companies MUST be first-hand accounts and may NOT be made anonymously.

If a situation has been reported upon by a reputable news source or addressed by law enforcement or the legal system it is open for discussion, but if an individual wants to make their own claims of criminal behavior against a named party in the course of that discussion, they too must identify themselves by first and last name and the account must be first-person.

Criminal allegations that do not satisfy these requirements, when brought to our attention, may be removed pending satisfaction of these criteria, and we reserve the right to err on the side of caution when making these determinations.

Credible threats of suicide will be reported to the police along with identifying user information at our disposal, in addition to referring the user to suicide helpline resources such as 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK.

2. Conversations in horse-related forums should be horse-related.
The forums are a wonderful source of information and support for members of the horse community. While it's understandably tempting to share information or search for input on other topics upon which members might have a similar level of knowledge, members must maintain the focus on horses.

3. Keep conversations productive, on topic and civil.
Discussion and disagreement are inevitable and encouraged; personal insults, diatribes and sniping comments are unproductive and unacceptable. Whether a subject is light-hearted or serious, keep posts focused on the current topic and of general interest to other participants of that thread. Utilize the private message feature or personal email where appropriate to address side topics or personal issues not related to the topic at large.

4. No advertising in the discussion forums.
Posts in the discussion forums directly or indirectly advertising horses, jobs, items or services for sale or wanted will be removed at the discretion of the moderators. Use of the private messaging feature or email addresses obtained through users' profiles for unsolicited advertising is not permitted.

Company representatives may participate in discussions and answer questions about their products or services, or suggest their products on recent threads if they fulfill the criteria of a query. False "testimonials" provided by company affiliates posing as general consumers are not appropriate, and self-promotion of sales, ad campaigns, etc. through the discussion forums is not allowed.

Paid advertising is available on our classifieds site and through the purchase of banner ads. The tightly monitored Giveaways forum permits free listings of genuinely free horses and items available or wanted (on a limited basis). Items offered for trade are not allowed.

Advertising Policy Specifics
When in doubt of whether something you want to post constitutes advertising, please contact a moderator privately in advance for further clarification. Refer to the following points for general guidelines:

Horses -- Only general discussion about the buying, leasing, selling and pricing of horses is permitted. If the post contains, or links to, the type of specific information typically found in a sales or wanted ad, and it's related to a horse for sale, regardless of who's selling it, it doesn't belong in the discussion forums.

Stallions -- Board members may ask for suggestions on breeding stallion recommendations. Stallion owners may reply to such queries by suggesting their own stallions, only if their horse fits the specific criteria of the original poster. Excessive promotion of a stallion by its owner or related parties is not permitted and will be addressed at the discretion of the moderators.

Services -- Members may use the forums to ask for general recommendations of trainers, barns, shippers, farriers, etc., and other members may answer those requests by suggesting themselves or their company, if their services fulfill the specific criteria of the original post. Members may not solicit other members for business if it is not in response to a direct, genuine query.

Products -- While members may ask for general opinions and suggestions on equipment, trailers, trucks, etc., they may not list the specific attributes for which they are in the market, as such posts serve as wanted ads.

Event Announcements -- Members may post one notification of an upcoming event that may be of interest to fellow members, if the original poster does not benefit financially from the event. Such threads may not be "bumped" excessively. Premium members may post their own notices in the Event Announcements forum.

Charities/Rescues -- Announcements for charitable or fundraising events can only be made for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. Special exceptions may be made, at the moderators' discretion and direction, for board-related events or fundraising activities in extraordinary circumstances.

Occasional posts regarding horses available for adoption through IRS-registered horse rescue or placement programs are permitted in the appropriate forums, but these threads may be limited at the discretion of the moderators. Individuals may not advertise or make announcements for horses in need of rescue, placement or adoption unless the horse is available through a recognized rescue or placement agency or government-run entity or the thread fits the criteria for and is located in the Giveaways forum.

5. Do not post copyrighted photographs unless you have purchased that photo and have permission to do so.

6. Respect other members.
As members are often passionate about their beliefs and intentions can easily be misinterpreted in this type of environment, try to explore or resolve the inevitable disagreements that arise in the course of threads calmly and rationally.

If you see a post that you feel violates the rules of the board, please click the �alert� button (exclamation point inside of a triangle) in the bottom left corner of the post, which will alert ONLY the moderators to the post in question. They will then take whatever action, or no action, as deemed appropriate for the situation at their discretion. Do not air grievances regarding other posters or the moderators in the discussion forums.

Please be advised that adding another user to your �Ignore� list via your User Control Panel can be a useful tactic, which blocks posts and private messages by members whose commentary you'd rather avoid reading.

7. We have the right to reproduce statements made in the forums.
The Chronicle of the Horse may copy, quote, link to or otherwise reproduce posts, or portions of posts, in print or online for advertising or editorial purposes, if attributed to their original authors, and by posting in this forum, you hereby grant to The Chronicle of the Horse a perpetual, non-exclusive license under copyright and other rights, to do so.

8. We reserve the right to enforce and amend the rules.
The moderators may delete, edit, move or close any post or thread at any time, or refrain from doing any of the foregoing, in their discretion, and may suspend or revoke a user's membership privileges at any time to maintain adherence to the rules and the general spirit of the forum. These rules may be amended at any time to address the current needs of the board.

Please see our full Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information.

Thanks for being a part of the COTH forums!

(Revised 5/9/18)
See more
See less

Euthanasia in a young do I get through this?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Euthanasia in a young do I get through this?

    I feel like I have read so, so many threads about this subject but I need to hear it myself. I don't have enough support in the real world who can talk me through this heart breaking situation. All in all, I need help.

    Long story short - I have a 7 yo mare who has been fairly lame/uncomfortable for 2ish years. Vets in my area pushed injections for arthritic hocks and stifles but they never helped. Previcox never helped. Fancy shoes didn't help. I had tried different vets for second and third opinions. I was let down by these vets that spent more time pushing injections that diagnosing. Two years into researching anecdotes and studies myself as well as putting together my own timeline, I'm believe she damaged her suspensory ligaments (one or both, not sure) and it was not treated properly. I did my absolute best to try to fix her and failed. My mare is now fully retired and very uncomfortable for trimmings with the farrier. You can tell she isn't very comfortable in her gaits. She is very, very green and headstrong. I refuse to sell/give her away her because a lame, "wild" horse will not end up in great situations.

    I recently moved her to a pasture only farm until I can decide what I can do. I'm very worried about moving into the winter with her out on pasture. I love this mare so much and I am crying as I type this. I am 26 years old and have been told I'm too young to hold on to her forever. I do agree but I can't stand to let her go to just anyone since she is harder to handle.

    Euthanasia has been suggested to me, and it seems like the right thing to do but I don't know how to find that strength in me. How far out would I need to make an appointment? How do I tell the pasture owner that I am thinking about doing this? Do you cremate your horse or what other options are there? Do I ask him to keep other boarders away? Is there a chance a vet won't do it/will they understand? I'm not really "close" with the vets in my area. What is it like when it happens? I've heard it's terrible and then that it's peaceful. I feel like I need to see her through this. Is that normal?

    I feel so alone these days. Thank you in advance.

    I had to put down a 10 year old gelding due to a bone spur in the knee. The knee was collapsing on him and he was uncomfortable on high levels of bute. I kept thinking maybe I can get him over the hump and he will be okay as a pasture pet. What made me put him down was even if I could get him comfortable in the short term, it was only going to get worse at some point in the future. He had also previously coliced and one potential cause of the colic was ulcers. Keeping him on bute didn't seem feasible.

    Please don't let anyone push you into continuing treatment. If you have pursued treatment to YOUR level of comfort and the horse is still uncomfortable, it is time to put the horse down. The level of effort to diagnose and treat long-term lameness are a personal decision. I did receive push back about putting him down, but it can from folks who in my option cared more about quantity of life versus quality of life. I was unwilling to let the horse suffer to save me having difficult conversations.

    The act of putting the horse down can be handled in a variety of ways. You can arrange for a vet to come to the farm. I would coordinate with the over, schedule a time when others are not around, and have a plan for disposal of the body. The other option is to take the horse to a vet clinic and have it done on-site.

    I choose not to be present when he was put down, but again that is a personal decision. I have also heard that sometimes it can be awful to watch and I didn't want that to be my final memory.

    I am sorry you are going through this. If it helps, it has been several years and I absolutely don't regret my decision. It was the right thing to do for the horse.


      That is a very tough situation. Do you think the horse might have degenerative suspensory ligaments?

      Before you completely give up, i would try Aleve (Sodium Naproxen). I'm beginning to think Previcox is a great piece of marketing and not so great at relieving pain. My old mare couldn't stand for the farrier on Previcox, but was perfect after switching to Aleve. There's a greater risk of stomach problems, but when the alternative is euthanasia, it might be something worth trying. My mare has degenerative ligaments.

      The one time I had a horse put down, the horse was already dying a slow painful death. The vet injected him, and he fell to the ground and was gone. He did not appear to suffer in any way. It was a much quicker death then the alternative. If I had not found him in time, he would have had a very agonizing death.

      Personally I don't like watching the procedure. I like to say my goodbyes and leave. I find it is easier not to see them drop. If you are financially able, and you think your horse is stable enough to survive winter, maybe give your horse another year?

      My old horse does fine in a southern climate, but if this was somewhere up north, i would have had to say goodbye by now. Summers are brutal down here and the only reason we were okay this summer was because I cold hosed her every afternoon to prevent heatstroke. It's totally different if you live in a snowy climate, as you don't want your horse to slip or fall or go down in a snow bank.

      Most vets will schedule you that day if it is an urgent euthanasia, but that is totally up to you as to when you schedule the procedure.

      This is a very personal decision. You need to do what is right for you and your horse.



        First you are not too young for anything! You are 26 and very sensible from what I am reading in your post. There are far worse things in life than death. I am not trying to sway you either way as this is ultimately what YOU feel is right. Listening to others that aren't paying the bills or emotionally involved is pointless.

        I just put down my 13 year old due to inoperable/untreatable cancer. It was a no brainer and I do not for a second regret letting him go in peace. I did not stay to see it unfold as they highly discouraged it and I didn't want to remember him like that. If you chose to stay that is your decision and you should never receive judgement from others if you chose to leave.

        If you are ready to let your girl go in peace and have exhausted all possibilities you are comfortable exploring then send her over the bridge. I would ask what the process/procedure is from a vet you at least trust in your area and go from there IF that is your final decision. Trust your gut and go with what is best for you and her.

        So sorry you are going through this, no one can fully understand but we do know that it is painful. You have my sympathy in having to face this difficult decision.
        Brain Surgeon "Milo" 2013 -
        Lovebug "Bugs" 2006-2019


          It sounds like you've been running the vet hamster wheel for a couple of years now which is admirable. Good on you for not giving up right away or trying to shuffle your mare off into some other situation.

          Psychologically I find it easier during the early stages of working through and finalizing the decision to try and focus exclusively on the welfare of the horse and not to let myself dwell on my own grief too much. It's messy and not foolproof but if I decide to let them go and after the horse has passed on I can then allow myself to flow through the grieving process.

          Once I've made the decision I get on it fairly quickly - no keeping my beloved animal around to have more time with them or to prolong the goodbye. I personally find that agonizing. I write a list of steps to take and get going with it. This list helps me during moments when I feel myself sliding into a sinkhole of sadness or where I begin second guessing my thought process.

          As far as the actual event, lay out everything to your vet the way you have here. They can then explain how the procedure works and you can chime in with your wishes. The actual euthanization itself can sometimes not be pretty but it's almost always quick. I stay while the horse is initially sedated and love on them and tell them they are simply the best in the world then I leave before the final act.

          I'm also tearing up as I write this because it's always heartbreaking. Surrender yourself to that knowledge, like the changing seasons the pain will come. But you will get through it and you'll be able to commend yourself for doing right by your horse and your sense of relief will help balance the sadness.

          You can always come here for continuing support if you're feeling alone in real life. Coth is here for you, whatever you decide.

          All the best (hugs)
          Last edited by ohmyheck; Oct. 3, 2019, 12:31 AM.
          One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
          William Shakespeare


            Originally posted by sheltoneb View Post

            Please don't let anyone push you into continuing treatment. If you have pursued treatment to YOUR level of comfort and the horse is still uncomfortable, it is time to put the horse down.
            Absolutely this! Your limits are not the same as anyone else’s. You decide where the boundaries are, and do not let anyone shame you for sticking to them. It sounds like you’ve done everything you can to weigh your options and consider all possibilities. Giving a horse in pain a peaceful and humane passing from this life is one of the kindest things an owner can do.

            Sending hugs and strength. It’s not easy but it seems like you’re doing your best to do right by the horse. Hang in there.


              It is a tough thing to do no matter what the age of the horse( or other animal ) when euthanasia is considered. Part of having animals is doing what needs to be done and doing it when it is time, no matter how much pain it causes you.

              She is in constant pain and once the cold weather comes it will be made worse with cold, hard ground , damp air and bad weather. By your own admission it is time.

              Choose a day and time and contact your vet and schedule to have it done sometime in the future when the weather starts to turn. It will give you time to accept what is inevitable and time to spoil her rotten for a while. Tell the pasture owners what you are doing and when.

              Rendering services can dispose of the body fairly economically and you can choose a place to put her down out of the prying eyes of other boarders if you wish.

              You have loved her, done everything possible medically to help her, but sometimes they just don't respond to treatment.
              Let her go and find another horse you can give your love and time to. There are plenty out there .


                I'm in the same position, a 4 y.o. mare diagnosed with degenerative suspensory ligament disease (DSLD). I plan to euthanise her in the next few months rather than risk rehoming. She's an absolute sweetheart but for a variety of reasons I'm choosing not to pass her on. You'e be amazed how many people want her breed despite DSLD having a genetic basis - "No." It stops with me.

                As for the logistics - Don't discuss this with other boarders at all. You will be shocked at the amount of backlash you will get. I had 3 boarders trying to get me fired from my job after I had a previous horse euthanized for chronic pain that was making him dangerous to handle. Plenty of people are more than willing to demand that you care for a horse a certain way ... my response is that the vet and I have made this decision about my horse. Repeat that over and over to yourself if you have to. It's your decision, your horse, your vet. Euthanasia is not the easy way out. It's not convenient. It's a heart-wrenching and responsible decision made in the best interest of your horse.

                You will have to coordinate with the barn owner and hopefully, he/she is helpful. I have read at least one thread here where the barn owner did not agree with a euthanasia and the consensus was that the client be forced to move her horse in order to euthanize. I don't think that's common but just FYI. Some areas allow burial but then you'll need permission from the barn owner and then coordinate the backhoe work with euthansia. I know there have been some threads on cremation but be forewarned that it's not common, very expensive, and only a portion of the horse may be cremated. A rendering company may pick up your horse's remains and again that will need to be scheduled. If you haul to a vet clinic, they may have someone that they contract with for removal (this is what I'm doing).

                I will warn that some vets will not euthanize unless the horse is in unrelenting pain despite medications or imminently dying. Unfortunately, you'll have to figure that out by talking with them. I have already checked that out with my mare. I know that my regular equine practice will not euth this mare for me so I have checked with another practice and offered her records for verification. They know me and will do it without question; if I'm asking for euth, they know it's not frivolous. Your best bet may be a mixed large animal practice that sees cattle and other production livestock rather than equine only; these vets are often more involved with practical/economic decisions rather than those based in sentimental/emotion ones. Call and ask for an estimate so that you aren't surprised by what's involved and the cost; it can be rather expensive. My estimate for euth and removal from the clinic is $640.

                As for being there, it's an entirely individual decision. Oddly, I won't be there with my own animals just because I'm upset and I know that my horse will feed off of that. For my mare, I plan to drop her off at the clinic with her favorite hay, leave the tech with plenty of horse cookies, and let them euth at a good time for them. I have no problem holding someone else's horse, just not my own.

                Horses can go down a variety of ways. I have not seen a bad euth but I don't do this on a regular basis. Some horses may lay down after sedation while others remain standing. After the euthanasia solution injection, I've just seen horses take a few steps forward or back and drop mid-stride. It can be jarring to see a big animal just fall; they don't lay down. Make sure you are out of the way. I have the hardest time during that transition; once the light goes out of the eye, my horse is no longer there. From that point on, I have a body to deal with. Then again, I've been the undertaker a few times for others' horses and cattle so I switch into practical mode pretty quickly.

                Hope some of this info helps. A lot of us have been down this very hard road.


                  Hugs to you! I've lost young horses, but never had to make that tough decision to euthanize except for elderly horses. You're being really brave and compassionate about this!

                  One thing I didn't see mentioned was sedation before the actual euthanization. Some vets do it as SOP, others just go straight with the blue fluid. I would highly recommend insisting that your horse be sedated completely (i.e. lying down) before euthanizing. It's much easier on you to see your horse lower itself gently and fall asleep before they're injected, plus there's less stress on them in the final minutes when they see that you're upset. And there's less chance of distressing unconscious reactions to the drug that will upset you even more.
                  Last edited by chestnutmarebeware; Oct. 3, 2019, 08:50 AM.
                  "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." —Bradley Trevor Greive


                    I was 'given' a crippled yearling. We kept the horse for 15 years before making the decision to euthanize. It was logical and our vet was supportive. And it did take us MONTHS to make the final decision...and we spent years talking about it.

                    We did not fully sedate beforehand, which did surprise me, as even in the small animal clinic I work for we sedate fully before euthanizing. Because of how wild she was though, we gave her an entire tube of pre-sedative so that we could lead her to where we needed to do things. She went down easy, without incident, but we were told it could have gone very much in a different direction. If this is your heart horse, I would recommend what Chestnutmare said and have them fully sedate her as to not have the final trauma possibly unfold at the end.

                    My heart goes out to you. Even though I never really bonded with the horse described above, it's still not easy to do, but it is an act of complete compassion.


                      I put down my 9-year old gelding 11 months ago on Veteran's Day weekend. And I won't lie, it will hurt for a long time. Writing this is making me cry almost a year later.

                      I came to terms with it by acknowledging that we had reached the point where keeping him going would be a selfish decision. Even now, I sometimes wish I had nerved him, but I know that's the selfish part of me that misses him. He was not doing well and would never get better, much like your mare, I imagine.

                      Not one person pushed back against my decision, so you may not encounter that, and I hope you don't.

                      I was there. I couldn't not be. It's not pleasant euthanizing a large animal, but I felt it was the right thing to do, and when I remember my guy today, I never think about that day. Honestly, all the good days come to mind first. Especially if you have a nervous horse-- I couldn't bear the thought of him being worried by strangers. My guy passed very peacefully. I think he was hurting and ready to go.

                      BUT, as to your questions-
                      -Absolutely find a vet that sedates and lays down the horse first.

                      -Yes, I would have the owner keep boarders away that day. You will not want spectators (just don't tell them TOO far in advance, so they don't have time to pass judgement on you).

                      -I would also NOT be there when they remove the body (cremation in my area is something like $2k).

                      -Depending on your area, you probably have about two months, realistically, if you want to bury, so I would make arrangements now so you can spoil your mare rotten.

                      -I prepared myself by watching videos of horses being euthanized on YouTube. It's morbid, but it helped me know what to expect.

                      Finally, I watched this video a million times. It really helped me grieve.


                        Sending you huge, huge, huge hugs, as a 24 year old with a young horse who has been in this position just this last spring.

                        I rescued an OTTB from a bad situation, having been told only that he was 17hh, 4yo, grey, raced once, and "angry." He had been taken off the track by a so-called rescue that tried to retrain and resell him, and when that failed, largely neglected him after completely frying his brain. A rescue friend of mine who was trying to help the neglected horses knew I was looking for a dressage prospect, said he was fancy but needed time and love, and I took a chance. I didn't find out until after I owned him and was doing research that he had retired due to a bowed tendon in his first race. I had the vet out promptly to do a basic work up, and the big glaring issue was his feet, which were absolutely atrocious (terrible wall separation all four and coffin bone rotation in rf) and the tendon--which had not been properly rehabbed, and had gone from being a small bow in spring of 2016 to a largely unhealed, 70% involvement of about 8 cm of SDFT by fall 2017. He also had a rearing problem, a biting problem, had learned to strike out at people, and was just largely a bit cracked. Angry was the perfect description for him.

                        I tried stall rest for about 3 days--he monkey-crawled over 6' panels and largely tried to kill himself and was a hazard to handle. I decided okay, I'll give him as much time as he needs in turnout and hope. Over the course of a year, we grew out better feet, handled him extensively, and taught him that humans aren't evil--he became a funny, loving, personality-rich horse. However, he was always a bit cautious--it didn't take much for him to go into fight mode, and there was always a rear or a strike one wrong step away. He was not ever a horse I would be comfortable allowing people who aren't very familiar with hot, big, reactive horses. By winter 2019, the bow was looking wonderful and he was cleared to start trotting in hand/in a roundpen. I thought there was a light at the end of the tunnel. But as work increased to 10 mins of trot a day, it became increasingly obvious that something was wrong up high behind--very, very wrong. It was hard to tell what was behavioral and what was soundness, so I had my general vet look at him, and clear him to be sent to a friend and mentor of mine for a training assessment. I had my suspicions that this was not a horse who would come sound, but I was hoping desperately she could find the key.

                        She called me the first day she worked him and said this horse is broken, both mentally and physically--mostly physically. She wanted me to image his S/I and pelvis, so I had a lameness specialist out and did just that. It was horrifying--tremendous damage to all of the soft tissue, and evidence of poorly healed pelvic fractures. Our best guess is that the people I rescued him from flipped him over multiple times. He would not ever be a riding horse, and we didn't think he would ever be comfortable just standing around. Things that I thought may have been residual issues, or due to lack of musculature, such as the constant resting of a hind foot and swapping which foot was resting, were in fact evidence of chronic pain. We tried three weeks of previcox, to no noticeable change in comfort. And this was still a 5yo, 17hh, high-energy horse with dangerous habits. I decided to euthanize, despite the protests of my normal vet and some friends that I needed to give him more time. I was financially and emotionally tapped out, and knew deep down that there was no fixing this, and that he was hurting.

                        I gave him another week on the previcox while arrangements were made. I was very lucky, in that my friend who had him was able to bury him on her property. A vet who I have worked with in the past was willing to perform the euthanasia, thankfully. I am not opposed to using a gun, and had that option open to me by an experienced horse friend, but wouldn't have been able to be there for that with one of my own horses--I have been present with other horses, it is not awful, but not the last thing you want to remember, either. He was heavily sedated before the procedure, and simply laid down. I stayed with him, but understand other owners who cannot. He was buried a week before his sixth birthday.

                        It is a hard, horrible decision to have to make, but it is one of the biggest gifts we can give our horses. I will never regret my decision.


                          barnesthenoble That poor big horse of yours. I'm so sorry he didn't come round. Bless your heart for trying so hard to give him a chance. And to everyone on this thread who's been there.

                          Thank goodness for the folks who try to help those horses who through no fault of their own are just so unlucky in life.
                          One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
                          William Shakespeare


                            I'm so sorry you are in this situation.
                            You can ask the vet to heavily sedate the horse so they lay down. Then you can say your goodbyes and leave when he injects the euthanasia solution.

                            Get some tail hair now. Not when the horse has passed. You may want to make a bracelet or shadow box as a keepsake, and thinking of cutting the tail hair off your dead horse will possibly taint your memory when you see it.


                              First of all, I'm really sorry this is happening to you and your horse. This is a terrible situation and I can completely understand why you'd be feeling a mix of sadness, confusion, and guilt. I especially feel for you as I was also a young adult horse owner, and it was really shocking to learn just how much variation there is in horse husbandry, and how willing older people are to tell you what to do. It can feel very lonely, so I'm glad you posted here!

                              Next, I'd like to share what I've written before regarding euthanasia procedures. It is accepted practice to sedate animals (cats, dogs, horses, whales) before administering the barbiturate drug that actually ends the animal's life. A side effect of the barbiturate is involuntary thrashing and vocalizing, which must be so upsetting to watch but does NOT mean that the animal is in pain, "fighting it" or "trying not to die." Barbiturates affect the nervous system, and the effects vary from slowing and eventually stopping the heart from beating to the thrashing of legs and making noises. This is the difference between peaceful euthanasia and those that are traumatic to watch.

                              From the American Veterinary Medical Association's Euthanasia Guidelines:
                              "S1.8.1 Individual Animals in Presence of Owners: Pre-euthanasia sedation or anesthesia should be provided whenever practicable, either before or after the owner(s) has had the opportunity to spend some final moments with his or her pet. Once the animal is calm, either direct venipuncture or use of an IV catheter is acceptable for IV injection of the euthanizing agent. Use of an IV catheter prevents repeat injections and minimizes the need for restraint while pet owners are present. When circulation is compromised by the animal's condition and sedation or anesthesia may reduce the likelihood of successful injection, it may be necessary to proceed with IV injection in the awake animal, or another route of administration of euthanizing agent might be considered. Alternatively, general anesthesia may be induced, followed by administration of a euthanasia agent."

                              An additional consideration is that thrashing in horses is dangerous.

                              You might also find it helpful to refer to a quality of life checklist. Horses need to be able to eat, drink, eliminate, sleep, socialize, exercise, and get relief from the elements and pests. They also, as you allude to, need to be able to receive regular handling, medical and farrier care. Factors that prevent a horse from doing any of those natural, needed behaviors/activities or receiving care are impacting his quality of life.

                              So for instance, if a horse has an inoperable tumor on the jaw that makes it impossible for him to eat comfortably, his quality of life will be pretty much negligible once his pain medications no longer work.

                              You might feel better if you created a checklist of these items. In fact, if you do, I think a lot of people would get use out of it.
                              Disclaimer: My mom told me that people might look at my name and think I had an addiction other than horses. I don't; his name was Bravado.


                                I put down my heart horse at age 10, 12 years ago. I still cry.

                                It will hurt, but you will move forward. What others have said is true - only you can make this choice and it is YOUR CHOICE to make, not anybody else's.

                                When you know you can't fix it, you know there's not a better home, then it's time.



                                  I got one of my horses when he was 3, off the track. He had surgery for a broken bone at the vet school, a year of rehab, then training. Something wasn't right. Three years of saddle fitters, vets, chiro, trainers, and finally found out. He has severe kissing spine.

                                  He has not been ridden since the day he had xrays. He is 10 now, living a life he loves. He's turned out at a local retirement barn- 30 acres, comes in at night/days. My vet offered to euthanize- no way. If he wasn't enjoying his life, I wouldn't hesitate, but I took him on, he is my responsibilty. It's everyone's own decision, but I often think I could've had him pts, but have never regretted not. His beautiful muscled body is now round and flabby, pulled mane is long and shaggy, mud, scratches from other horses teeth on his butt- and he's happy.


                                    Lots of really good advice already here. I just want to add that I've saw a decent number of horses euthanized while I was working at an equine hospital. Our vets always sedated first and would gently help them to the ground (including my old TB). Once down the owner if they chose to be there could say their goodbyes. They were always very peaceful endings. I am one who has always been there during the procedure for my own animals - I couldn't stand the thought of not being there for them. I do understand why some choose not to be present though.

                                    The only time it was difficult was when we would get a horse that had severe neurological issues or something was wrong but couldn't be diagnosed and literally the horse was crashing and extremely dangerous to handle. But those were thankfully few and far between and emergency situations.

                                    I had my old guy cremated (the hospital has a crematorium on-site) so it was very easy (not cheap $1900 at the time but I got a discount since I worked there so it wasn't bad). Just be aware if you go with cremation some places don't do the whole body (my place did). We also had a super nice guy who would pick up horses and bury them on his property (for about $600-700 if I remember correctly). He had pre-dug holes so he could even pick up during winter months.

                                    One thing we always did was cut the tail hairs from the horse after they were euthanized and would wrap it up nicely for the owner - they always appreciated this. I had a bracelet made with my old guys tail and my current TBs tail (my two were buddies for almost ten years) - the lady did a amazing job intertwinely the two colors (chestnut and black).

                                    One of the hardest things while working at the hospital was seeing owners who continued to let their horse suffer and wanted the vets to keep trying because they couldn't stand the thought of losing them - I totally understand but that's not fair to the horse. The vets when necessary would tell the owners they couldn't do anymore and it was time to let them go.

                                    I am sorry you are going through this - work with your vet and come up with a plan and don't let others make you feel guilty. This is the kindest thing you can do.

                                    Euthanasia takes away their pain and makes it ours.

                                    One of my favorite sayings is this:

                                    Today I'll say goodbye as you peacefully go adrift... with one last moment I'll whisper with love my friend, a final gift.
                                    "When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered." CANTER New England


                                      There are far far worse things then a humane pain free death. Don’t let anyone push into continuing treatment or rehoming. You have done your due diligence and it doesn’t sound like your horses QOL is great, she will likely be more painful once winter comes.
                                      "No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world."
                                      -Dead Poets Society


                                        Link to my blog on the subject

                                        It depends on the barn. My first horse was at a small barn that was very quiet. I made. the appointment for early morning after the BO and kids were gone to work and school.

                                        For my second horse I asked my BO to close the barn to other boarders for the morning of the day. They very kindly did so, but someone asked why at one point and the true reason slipped out. I don't know how far it spread as no one mentioned it to me. If I'm in a similar situation I will ask them to come up with a reason so they're prepared when the question comes up. Part of me wanted to start several different rumours and see which stuck. I told my friends myself so they could say goodbye and asked them not to share the info.

                                        I asked the vet for the first appointment of the day. Then I asked them to mark it private so no one else would get added on to split call fees - normally not an issue but I wanted no witnesses to tell me about what happened after I left. That barn had a lot of boarders, and a few who loved to gossip so I knew if anyone saw it they wouldn't be able to keep quiet.

                                        I arranged the dead stock pickup for 11am. In the morning before the barn reopened, but late enough to give the vet wiggle room for emergency (which actually did occur with the second horse) while still leaving me time to leave after it was done and before the truck arrived. My then vet advised me that I didn't want to see the truck do the pick up when I scheduled euthanasia for my first horse.

                                        I told my BOs which month would be my horse's last boarding with them, and why.

                                        I chose to stay with both. My first horse didn't like vets, and the second was a worrier.

                                        I hope you'll read my blog. I wrote it leading up to and after my second horse's euthanasia specifically for other people going through the process for the first time as there was very little information on the subject, and it wasn't something people talked about at the time. I am glad that has changed and we can talk about it and support each other through it, even on forums like CotH.