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What is the ethical thing to do...

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  • What is the ethical thing to do...

    I have a 4 year old gelding who suffered a major stifle injury one year ago. 2 surgeries later the horse is still very uncomfortable and lame. The vet suggested one final surgical procedure which he gives about a 10% chance of success. I have scheduled and will do the procedure. But at this point I feel like I have to plan for the 90% chance it doesn't work. Because of the injury the horse is too uncomfortable and it is unsafe for him to be turned out, according to the vet. This horse is also dangerous to handle when not in work/turnout. I'm at a loss as to what to do with him, the vet brought up euthanasia as an option, but I just don't know. I realize he is uncomfortable, but I keep hoping it will heal, at the same time, I'm also running out of options. Does anyone have any ideas of something that could be done with this type of horse?

  • #2
    Not a fun situation to be in. Im sorry

    As an outsider, I would say you have to look at his quality of life over anything else. If hes dangerous when not in work(which he probably never will be), and also not able to be turned out, I would say euthenasia is his best option. If hes hurting or uncomfortable and it isnt managed, it's just not fair to make him live in pain, in a stall forever.

    Good luck. I hope hes in the 10%!
    Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
    White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

    Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.

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    • #3
      Assuming he's not in constant pain, sometimes the best "remedy" for a horse that has an intractable or untreatable problem is a year turned out. (looked after properly, of course) If nothing will help and the animal is in pain all the time, euthanasia is the kindest thing to do.
      Click here before you buy.

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      • #4
        I don't think any rational horseperson would fault you for euthanizing a horse who is in chronic, uncontrollable pain and is dangerous to boot. What's the point of keeping a horse alive if it is suffering with little chance of improvement? Moreover, what's the point for you to keep a horse around that has a higher-than-average chance of injuring or killing you? It's not fair to the horse, it's not fair to you.

        If you want to keep going, I think it's time for a serious discussion with the vet about your options for pain control or even sedation before somebody gets hurt (including the horse - if he's dangerous to people, he may also be at greater risk of reinjuring himself). You don't say what type of vet you are using now, but developing a solid plan might require going "up the food chain" to a boarded surgeon, academic/referral center, consultation with a boarded anesthesiologist to help deal with pain management, etc. However, I don't think you should feel obligated to go to expensive and invasive measures to try to salvage a badly damaged, hurting animal; euthanasia is in fact a "good death". Just because this situation is more drawn-out than an acute colic or long bone fracture doesn't mean that you have to keep going ad infinitum.

        I hope that you find a resolution and peace soon.
        The plural of anecdote is not data.
        Eventing Yahoo In Training

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Just to add: I'm already working with a vet school, and the horse is dangerous even sedated as he currently is. Also, turnout for a year is not an option as his stability is not at a point where he could safely move around. The thing I keep getting and coming back to is that given more time some studies show the horse improving enough for turnout. But I just don't know where to cut things off, having given him every chance while also being humane.

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          • #6
            Very much personnally, I would put him down.

            I would save my time, my ressources and my energy for the other horses of this world that also stand a real chance of becoming sound and sane citizens.
            www.EquusMagnificus.ca
            Breeding & Sales
            Facebook | YouTube

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            • #7
              A 10% chance of being pain free would have me euthanizing. Or a horse that won't tolerate stall rest without becoming dangerous, when stall rest will be needed for a long time, and there is not a REALLY good chance he will be pain free or able to be turned out, would have me euthanizing.

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              • #8
                He isn't a good patient, there's a 10% change that further surgery may help... You have put a lot into this horse, but euthanasia might be the kindest thing you can do for him.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by EquusMagnificus View Post
                  Very much personnally, I would put him down.

                  I would save my time, my ressources and my energy for the other horses of this world that also stand a real chance of becoming sound and sane citizens.
                  This exactly. I'm very sorry. This is never an easy decision, but sometimes it's the right one for everyone involved.
                  "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer
                  http://dressagescriblog.wordpress.com/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CaffeineAddict View Post
                    Just to add: I'm already working with a vet school, and the horse is dangerous even sedated as he currently is. Also, turnout for a year is not an option as his stability is not at a point where he could safely move around. The thing I keep getting and coming back to is that given more time some studies show the horse improving enough for turnout. But I just don't know where to cut things off, having given him every chance while also being humane.
                    IMO, given that you have consulted experts and he is still dangerous, painful, and unstable, it's time to call it quits. It sounds like you HAVE given him every chance, and it still is not going in a direction that is good for him or for you. At this point, you are probably just causing the two of you more grief and misery without gaining anything.

                    I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this.
                    The plural of anecdote is not data.
                    Eventing Yahoo In Training

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I also think one more surgery with a 10% chance of recovery has some serious downsides-- cost to you, more rehab (which he doesn't do well) for him.

                      It's tough when it seems that his estimation of his quality of life seems good. You know, he's not losing weight, looking "tired" and all the things that come from a horse being worn down by constant pain. But this one sounds like he's not happy being in a stall, either.

                      Before I did the next surgery, I think I'd do as GatoGordo suggests and have a conversation with my vet (or another) about surgery *and* better management afterwards. If I couldn't promise a different rehab, I'd be tempted to euthanize rather than do the second surgery.

                      But you should know where this advice comes from. I factor in the danger to people and cost-vs.-outcome along with the horse's "ok for now" quality of life and better-but-not-useful status later. Others would have the horse's perception of his quality of life trump all else.

                      Maybe this helps, too. Some once told me: "There are no right and wrong decisions. There are only those that line up better or worse with our values." If you can get clear on your values first, you won't regret whatever course of action you take. But those values are yours and non-negotiable. You can ask others for advice that helps you clarify them, but you don't have to answer to anyone else for the set you have.
                      The armchair saddler
                      Politically Pro-Cat

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                      • #12
                        I would agree to put him down. It is not fair to him and you. Ten percent isn't high enough odds to put him through anymore procedures. I am so sorry that you have had such a heart wrenching ordeal. Hugs to you.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Poniesofmydreams View Post
                          I would agree to put him down. It is not fair to him and you. Ten percent isn't high enough odds to put him through anymore procedures. I am so sorry that you have had such a heart wrenching ordeal. Hugs to you.
                          Ditto. Put him down and spare both of you more suffering.
                          Free bar.ka and tidy rabbit.

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                          • #14
                            My question for you is this: I know you want to try and give him that chance, but why? You are spending x amount of dollars, x amount of time, and only have 10% chance of success.

                            At what cost? Is it worth it? Why?

                            I may be time to say good bye! I wouldn't hesitate to put horse down. It isn't worth it to him. He is in pain and dangerous. Let him finally get some peace and rest.

                            Sometimes you can save them....sometimes you can't.....Other times, even though you can, it is best to say good bye and end their suffering.

                            Just because you can, doesn't mean you should! I often think we try too hard and too long all to no avail. It is sometimes best to say Good Bye. Yes, the hopes and dreams end, but so do pain and suffering. Peace and rest can begin for this horse.

                            My heart goes out to you. It is a difficult place to be in...but I would make his pain mine and let him go!
                            Life is too short to argue with a mare! Just don't engage! It is much easier that way!

                            Have fun, be safe, and let the mare think it is her idea!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by CaffeineAddict View Post
                              Just to add: I'm already working with a vet school, and the horse is dangerous even sedated as he currently is. Also, turnout for a year is not an option as his stability is not at a point where he could safely move around. The thing I keep getting and coming back to is that given more time some studies show the horse improving enough for turnout. But I just don't know where to cut things off, having given him every chance while also being humane.
                              It is only natural for you to be feeling lost for an answer and I am so very sorry for you and your horse. Many of us have been in your shoes and making the tough call is never fun.

                              If this horse is stable enough for stable rest, then would he not also be stable enough for a very restricted turnout?

                              I managed a horse a few years back that needed stall rest. He frankly started going stir crazy. We sectioned off an very small turnout lot complete with a babysitter just a crossed the fence also in a very small pen (to avoid them trotting around and causing problems). Babysitters were brought in hungry and hayed so they were content to stand there and eat. I also used the seniors from my herd. It was a very tough 3 mths and a lot of work. But that horse recovered and is an aged gentleman himself now.

                              I do not think my vet thought this would work. But it really was the only option at the time for this horse was willing it hurt himself and he just could not handle being cooped inside a stall 24X7.

                              Just a thought anyhow.

                              That being said no real horseman, nor person with an ounce of compassion is going to fault you if you do decide euth'ing him is the humane choice.

                              Thoughts and prayers headed your way.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Poniesofmydreams View Post
                                I would agree to put him down. It is not fair to him and you. Ten percent isn't high enough odds to put him through anymore procedures. I am so sorry that you have had such a heart wrenching ordeal. Hugs to you.
                                I could not put my feelings in any better words than these. As hard as the decision would be to make, I would let him go. I'm so sorry you have to go through this.
                                There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Poniesofmydreams View Post
                                  I would agree to put him down. It is not fair to him and you. Ten percent isn't high enough odds to put him through anymore procedures. I am so sorry that you have had such a heart wrenching ordeal. Hugs to you.
                                  Yes.

                                  And I'm so sorry
                                  -Jessica

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    This is a very difficult situation...so sorry for both of you. You have obviously given him great care, consideration and effort. You have thought about this deeply and carefully. There is no easy answer. But you will make the right one for you and him. Remember that you are both suffering.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Only you can make the decision that you are going to be comfortable with.

                                      I can only say, having been in your shoes with the odds stacked against the horse and some deep sole searching I had made the decision to end the cycle for my horse. It was hard and I still think back and miss the horse but for him is was the right thing do do.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by EquusMagnificus View Post
                                        Very much personnally, I would put him down.

                                        I would save my time, my ressources and my energy for the other horses of this world that also stand a real chance of becoming sound and sane citizens.
                                        This. I'm so sorry; these are the worst sorts of decisions to have to make.

                                        I too am hoping he'll be in the 10 percent, but sometimes giving them a good end is the best option we have.
                                        Full-time bargain hunter.

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