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how to euthanize a horse who is overall healthy..but unwanted

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  • how to euthanize a horse who is overall healthy..but unwanted

    This is very very very hard for me to even type. But, a few months ago, I posted about 2 dude ranch horses I managed for the last 5 years, both with chronic low grade lamenesses that make them unable to comfortably do their jobs in the mountains carrying dudes. I have been threatened with a time period to get rid of these 2 horses. One month. I placed them in a "GREAT" home and interviewed the people etc...talked to their refs etc....had a gut feeling to go check them and bring the trailer....they were starving to death. I got them back, put all their weight back on and now the owner of the ranch decided they will NOT pay to retire them or keep them on any joint stuff-will not even pay for a pasture board situation with me taking basic care of them.

    I am so stressed. The horse market is worthless, rescues are full and are for horses in need of true rescueing...not horses of people with money who dont want to pay to care for a
    horse they cannot use...i totally have a problem with this.

    Anyway, I have 2 happy, healthy horses who have arthritis and are not rideable. They do headbob at the trot. they gallop to the gate twice a day for feed, they play all day, they gallop the fenceline, yes, they are lame, chronic footpain and honestly I am gunshy to rehome them to a stranger.

    what do I do? euthanize 2 best friends and if I had to do that, do I do it at the same time??? or would you risk finding a home again? what do you do?

    this is insanely difficult...these horses mean the world to me and I would save one if I could, btu I have 2 rescued mustangs and a 31 year old who all mean the world to me and htat is my limit.


  • #2
    You may have trouble finding a vet to euthanize them for you under these circumstances. I would either risk trying to rehome them again, lease them out as companion horses, or put your name in at a rescue that is reliable. JMO.
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein



    • #3
      There is NOTHING wrong with putting down unwanted, unusable horses. I think its a tough reality of being involved in horses, especially in this difficult economic climate. Better to put them down humanely than have them starve in a field or be shipped off to slaughter, which I think are two things that are more and more likely to happen as prices for everything continue to rise.

      I know exactly how hard it is--I euthanised my pet horse in June. I could no longer afford her, and she was absolutely unplaceable. It broke my heart, but I could not rationalize going deeper into debt with no end in sight.

      My vet did not have any problems putting down my big girl. He said that he knew I was being rational, that he supported my decision and that he was proud of me. He also told me to be quiet about it. I think you will not have a problem finding a horse to put the horses down.


      • #4
        These horses aren't unwanted. You want to keep them but can't, I want to take in every "unwanted" horse in the world but I can't.

        I don't know that I have much advice to offer. I'm sorry that you are being put in a position to have to make such a decision. My first thought would be try to find them a home, but that might be very hard since there are a lot of perfectly sound horses out there that can't find a home.

        I would hope that a vet would honor your wishes to euthanize them if that is what you decide. There are worse things than a peaceful death.

        Bless you for helping them and I wish there was an easy answer.


        • #5
          I'm sure you've thought of this, but are they quiet enough to go to a therapeutic riding center? I know the one near here is looking for horses who can do the job who aren't ancient like most of the good candidates seem to be.


          • #6
            It is a tough decision to make, but, honestly, don't guilt yourself. You can't keep everything and rescue them all.

            It seems to be a taboo subject. I've not heard of vets who would not do the job for you. Here we have an alterntive. It is a company that will come to your farm, use the stun/bolt gun, and haul the horse away for minimal charge. Use the carcass for dog food, etc.
            The company will also accompany a vet to the farm, wait until the time is right, crank the horse up the ramp and drive off. This is a family owned business and last year earned Horse Council "Business of the Year" award. They are always timely, respectful, quick and that's it, gone. No chatting, comiserating, just get the job done.
            Not much fun, but necessary.

            Take care - you will know.
            Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


            • #7
              Finding them a home runs the very real risk of having them dumped down the line, unless you are prepared to do the monitoring. Their working days appear to be over.
              Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


              • #8
                Have you looked into vet schools? Many veterinary schools take horses and use them to teach students to draw blood etc.

                Do they have good temperments? Theraputic riding centers will often take horses who are unable to really be ridden and use them for therapy like brushing or just walking with a small child on their back.

                I think that you might consider doing a little more research before putting down two horses that could possibly make a difference.


                • #9
                  Have you looked into vet schools? Many veterinary schools take horses and use them to teach students to draw blood etc.
                  The vet school in CO--Colorado State--sends their research etc horses through Centennial Livestock Auction when they're no longer needed. CLA is the killer auction in the state, and I recently heard it was on par with New Holland for number of horses sent to slaughter. I would not advise El Tovar to donate the horses to CSU.


                  • #10
                    i dont think you will have a problem as like you said the are lame
                    you have given them a couple years of decent care , its also selfish to keep them aliveif they are in as much pain as you say they are can be borderline of abuse- as in killing them with kindness type thing as in -- selfishness becuase you want xyz

                    you have to think of there quality of life, if you did how ever get them moved will they be in a home for the rest of thre lives or not, will they be pass from pillar to post only to go through the same thing again, and then what be in a meat mans van or be treated with disrespect again

                    you have had them back twice and found them to be skinny again
                    let them go with dignity as in healthy looking -------

                    i think whats happening your b/o is being realistic and you are in denail thats theres anythiing wrong with both of them,
                    so he given you an untimatuim to do something positive for the horses in question
                    no doubt feels that you have spent enough done enough and they arent going to come round

                    you cannot understand cannot ride lame horses and these two are old and lame even at rest as in at play
                    time to let them go but a good thing is you can do them together so they can cross the bridge together

                    the riht thing to do is to pts----- and you know it - your just having doubts and voicing to see if there anything else - there isnt and thats the truth
                    no one is going to take on a ny horse with cronic lame issues that are a- old and on going
                    and b- expensive only to be told the horses have to be pts

                    so like i said dignity dont be selfish as in i want to keep them alive then in servere pain
                    and have been fror years and the only really is that you prolonged it and the invietable ends the same----
                    be happy that you gave these great guys there last years with grub happyness and a loving home - and say good bye

                    then at least you know where they are- and they pain free- as in freedom for the horse


                    • #11
                      Do a little google on the internet for the Euthanasia guidelines set down by the AAEP.

                      There you will find a documented titled "AAEPP Care guidelines for rescue and retirement facilities.: Page 22 is the section on Euthanasia To pull a snippet out:

                      1. Is the medical condition chronic and incurable?
                      2 Does he immediate medical condition have a hopeless prognosis for lie,?
                      3. Is the horse a hazard to itself or it's handlers?
                      4. Will the horse require continuous medication for the relief of pain for the reminder of it's life?
                      5 Will the medical condition result in a lifetime of continued confinement

                      These are the questions I went over with my vet to make the decisons about my girl. (See my thread in this are under "Tacky, or not?"

                      Today my 21 year old mare and aalomst 30 barn mate will cross the bridge together. I think if you can say yes to any of the above you need to talk to an equine vet and see what they have to say.

                      Good luck in your decision. It is a tough thing to go though.
                      **Riders of Rohan**


                      • #12
                        I've also never heard of a vet not euthanizing an unwanted animal. I can't see it being a problem, especially when we're talking chronically lame horses.

                        How is this worse than the thousands of stray cats/dogs that are euthanized every year? If that's ethical, how is it unethical to euthanize a horse?

                        Don't feel bad. You did your part by keeping them happy and comfy and trying your best to find them a home. I think people who give an animal a humane end are amazing and selfless. Hugs to you and your horses.


                        • #13
                          I'm so sorry. When you say they are chronically lame, do you think that a vet might be able to treat it, or farrier? Have the vet out for an exam if that's possible, and find out what each horse is dealing with. It may make your situation to put them down much easier if you find out they are truly suffering but being stoic.


                          • #14
                            El Tovar, I'm sorry that you have to make this difficult decision. However, if you decide that there's truly no other option, then veterinary euthanasia is not the only way to get the job done. In most areas, it is perfectly legal to shoot your own horse or have it shot. If you hire an experienced marksman who uses the appropriate shell and aims correctly, the horse dies instantly. There was a good COTH thread about it last year.
                            Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


                            • #15
                              It probably doesn't help much, but you are not alone. We are going to have to change the way we look at these cases, with the economy and lack of something else to do with unwanted, or unaffordable horses.
                              These horses are lucky to have you, even if they end up walking to a peaceful grave. There are worse things. Harder for you than for them.
                              Hugs to you, though.


                              • #16
                                Do you have a good relationship with a vet? (Professionally, I mean! ) If so, have a talk with him/her if you think euthanasia is needed. If your vet knows you, he/she is usually understanding and supportive of these kind of decisions. It's not like you are thowing away a horse because it can't show anymore and you dont want to spend time rehabbing!
                                It sounds like it might be the only answer. Finding a home for horses that are lame at the trot is extremely difficult. You can certainly try again, but there are not a lot of "companion horse" homes out there compared to the number of needy horses. I wish people would quit suggesting "therapeutic riding stables" for every lame horse! IME, they do NOT want lame horses. They can work with stiff, but they are offered enough horses these days that around here they are very picky and will only take horses with the right size, temperment and NO costly maitenance issues!
                                Give them a good life for as long as you can and then release them humanely.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by shea'smom View Post
                                  These horses are lucky to have you, even if they end up walking to a peaceful grave. There are worse things.
                                  Ditto. I've told my family that if something ever happens to me, I would like my horses put to sleep and buried under their grove of trees. It sounds selfish, but, really, it's for their well-being. They've had a good life with me, and no way do I want to risk them ending up in the hands of someone who isn't going to take care of them.

                                  You'd be doing the horses a favor.
                                  "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch


                                  • #18
                                    El Tovar, the ranchers who used these horses up and then pawned them off on you should feel guilty, NOT YOU. Real cowboys would take care of their own.

                                    I know a lot about this--I previously was a social worker, constantly feeling guilty for not being able to do more to help the kids who came and went through my life. I never did get to the point where I could accept that it wasn't my fault that the kids' lives were in shambles in the first place, and it's the reason I had to change careers for my own sanity.

                                    The devil you know is better than the one you don't. A dignified end will allow you to know that you did the best for them that you could, and never to wonder about what happened to them. Rehoming will always leave you wondering. In the best of economies it's a crap-shoot; in this economy it's a downright losing game.

                                    A co-worker of mine always used to wear a bracelet with beads that spelled WICWIC. I asked her one day the significance of it and she said it reminded her to do "what I can, where I can." You've got 2 rescues and a horse you've managed to keep going to the age of 31. If that's "all" you can do, there is certainly no shame in that.

                                    (and finally, as a totally unsolicited and probably unwarranted piece of advice, if this is the dude ranches' MO when it comes to the retirement of their equines, I'd have to cut all ties with them right after I called them out for being completely irresponsible and terrible stewards of their animals...giving YOU a deadline to clean up their mess? Oh, no...meaty ogre don't think so!)


                                    • #19
                                      i agree w/ shea'smom

                                      peaceful death at the hands of caring people is a much better option than some of the alternatives.
                                      TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by El Tovar View Post

                                        Anyway, I have 2 happy, healthy horses who have arthritis and are not rideable. They do headbob at the trot.
                                        If they are lame and winter is coming they will hurt every where when it's cold. Euthanasia is a humane option for even "healthy" horses that hurt. There is no shame in that.

                                        Also call CSU. See if they are in need of donor horses for their vet school. The horses may be used in a study, or necropsy, or surgery practice. All in a humane and caring manner with the end result being euthanasia. That way the end of their life can be as useful as all of their life had been.

                                        ((((HUGS)))) This just has to be so hard I am sorry you have to deal with this. I have a beloved blind POA that is my Daughter's treasure I am wrestling with the same issue with right now. He is "OK" but his "seeing eye" mini has desperate arthritis and may not make another winter. One without the other will die of a broken heart - it's just so very very very sad!
                                        "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"