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Is euthanasia a reasonable choice here?

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    I think your feasible options are to retire the horse on your own dime if she's pasture sound WITHOUT meds, or euthanize her. I wouldn't pursue riding her or attempting to re-home her, from what you've described.

    However, I think it's important to note that while your experience sucks balls, it's not some crazy anomaly. I had an old trainer tell me years ago that he estimated that about 60-70% of OTTBs come off the track unsound to the point that they can't be used for even low-level competitive riding. And that often, the unsoundness is not obvious at first, especially if the horse has had a break since racing. This gels pretty well with my unscientific observations in the 20 years since. So I really think that if you buy an OTTB, you need to be prepared for this outcome, and have a plan.

    This isn't a criticism of the OP, but I feel like I see so many people buying OTTBs for cheap, and expecting some sort of fairytale. It's a big risk, especially if you don't have 5 acres out the back where you can just let them be for 10 years if they won't stay sound.

    OP, if she is completely pasture sound without any painkillers, and copes ok with living out, you could find a place to retire her. That's what I did with my guy, I found a place for about $350/month, and he seems to love it. But if she isn't both of those things, I'd euthanize her without hesitating. Quality of life is everything.


      I'm sort of in the same situation with the gelding i rescued. He has recurrent uveitis. Yes, it's early in the disease process and right now he's stable. He gets low dose dexamethasone (like a horse with heaves would) and he is happy. I would give him away for free if i could but no one wants him. The rescues won't take him. He is rideable and sound. No one wants to invest in a horse that might (eventually) need euthanasia.

      I rescued him as a temporary resale project. I didn't imagine how messed up he was from abuse or that after a year of retraining, he would develop uveitis. So now I'm stuck with a horse i don't really want, that no one else wants. My neighbor suggested i just retire him as they did with their blind horse...but I don't want to support him for another 20 years. He's only 7.

      I had a lovely ride on him today. At least he is rideable by an experienced rider.

      I've already decided, if i can't find a good home for him, that I will maintain him until his health deteriorates and euthanize. But that could be years... He's a nice horse, but definitely Not something I really want to keep. A few months was okay, but not permanently. I wanted a sound horse i could jump or do trails with. Not a big headache and a bunch of vet bills.

      To be honest it's a terrible position to be in. Just completely overwhelming - it wouldn't be so bad if it was just one horse with problems... But multiple animals with issues? If he was my only horse, perhaps it wouldn't be so bad.

      It has really made me question if i ever want to rescue another horse again. I'm not cut out for the heartbreak. I really do need to downsize and start focusing on my future. I'm definitely at my limit on animals. No more rescues... No more financial drains. I'm starting to see the horses and think ugh! more work!




        4horses can you free lease him so at least you are not paying for him now? He may stay healthy for years. And if/when he deteriorates you can then decide what to do.
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          • Freedom from hunger and thirst.
          • Freedom from discomfort.
          • Freedom from pain, injury and disease.
          • Freedom from distress and fear.
          • Freedom to express natural behavior.

          OP, I too feel for you. A very dear young friend bought a lovely Appaloosa gelding, her first horse, when she was in high school. He had an odd tremor in his legs which was not apparent when she bought him. Then he had lingering aftereffects of an injury. He was 12. She and the vet made the decision to euthanize him and she knew that was best for him. She still visits his grave.

          Vets have to consider all of the options for any horse. They have to recognize that money is a limiting factor for many owners. They can't and won't make the decision, but they have an obligation to provide the owner with information, including prognosis and cost, and to respect the owner's decision. OP isn't considering euthanizing a healthy horse. The first thing to consider is horse's condition; age is irrelevant. If he was 15 and you would put him down, then it's not unreasonable to do so at 4. It is the emotional stress that makes it so hard for us to make the decision. The critical and intolerant comments from a few posters here are uncalled for. If you can't add something constructive to the conversation don't add anything at all.

          The Five Freedoms come from an article by Julie Goodnight: Dealing with the Death of a Horse. She had a favorite horse drop dead in the arena. It is the best article I have read: realistic, thoughtful, and appropriately detailed. You can read it for free on her website.
          "With hardly any other living being can a human connect as closely over so many years as a rider can with her horse." Isabell Werth, Four Legs Move My Soul. 2019


            Originally posted by SMF11 View Post
            4horses can you free lease him so at least you are not paying for him now? He may stay healthy for years. And if/when he deteriorates you can then decide what to do.
            Honestly, I would be afraid to put other people on him if I didn't know they could ride well. He's not malicious but he isn't an easy horse because of his anxiety issues.


              I would not even consider leasing him out. He could easily hurt or kill someone because of his pain. Where are you located? My experience has been that rural vets are often more open to euthanasia than suburban vets. Alternatively, talk with a rescue. Be honest, and tell them about the rearing and his many issues that make him potentially unsafe. Then, give them a donation of at least what it costs them to euthanize and haul the body away.