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Putting a mostly healthy horse down. The emotional side.

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  • #21
    It's easy to know the right thing to do , the hard part is doing it.

    My thoughts are with you. I'd put her down. Be sad, but part if being a good owner and guardian of these animals is knowing when to let them go.
    Come to the dark side, we have cookies

    Comment


    • #22
      Originally posted by mvp View Post
      To answer your God question, OP:

      If you hold the means to euthanize your animal and don't you are still playing God.

      A lot of suffering happens in this world in the name of people "not playing God" by actually taking a life. Meh. To me, that's a flimsy argument since logically, we don't know very much about how God's mind works and because while we are debating the subject, we are still making a decision.

      The real question, then, is about the mare's quality of life, yours and her prognosis. As others have said, if she's unsafe to handle, that's a good enough reason to put down and animal. If she is angry or fearful all the time because of her condition, that's an even better reason. I don't think a horse on edge like that 24/7 is having a good time.

      I guess the really hard question you have to ask yourself is about what makes her unmanageable for the rest of her life. Do you feel that you can't manage her care but *should* be able to? I think your vet or someone who knows the horse well can tell you whether or not your hopes/expectations for someone giving this mare decent quality of life are reasonable.
      My old boss & mentor at the riding school where I worked growing up had a great saying: "It costs just as much to feed a bad horse as it does a good one." There are too many nice ones out there who need a home and would be happy, healthy, and enriching to your life as using horses to feel guilty about putting up with something pathologically damaged. Do NOT guilt yourself up about this.

      I've been in your shoes and there are some things you just can't fix. I once owned a jumper prospect I bred, about whom the trainer said, "they can't build the line at Spruce Meadows that I can't jump him down." Unfortunately, he couldn't be kept in a stall because he lost his mind, couldn't be gotten on a trailer without enough Ace to knock down an elephant, and BELIEVE ME the best in the business tried with the utmost motivation and failed. He'd been handled with textbook perfection by pros since the day he was born. The difference between maybe being worth 6 figures or totally being a goose egg was that one loose screw. If something happened to you, that horse would probably be destined for a lifetime of abuse by a long, descending food chain of others who think they can "fix" her. And they probably can't.

      Don't beat yourself up, just call the numbers to get it done. There are things in life that don't work out, and the space she vacates will hopefully, in due course, be filled by the horse you had hoped she might become. Do the courageous thing and you will save her from suffering. Karma will reward you . . .

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #23
        Thank you for the words/thoughts.

        DH is dealing with this by avoiding discussing, but now vet results are in I feel it is time to decide so I can be free of the "what ifs" and the "can I really do this".

        I hadn't even considered having someone else help the vet. I am sure that would make it less stressful for all concerned but wonder how I would feel not being there. She can be tricky to catch.
        Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

        Comment


        • #24
          CHT, you're making the right decision. I've been in the same place and I made the same choice. To this day, I think it was the right thing to do, even though it still makes me sad.

          My mare was usually pretty good to handle but had a hell of an unpredictable blow up that was extremely dangerous. I knew the risks, and I kept her for several years, but no one else handled her. When I could no longer keep her, I put her down. There was simply no way I could *ever* rehome her--I was too afraid she'd kill someone. So on a warm summer day, we met the vet and that was the end. She had a lot of good years with me after a truly terrible life previously.

          If you don't want to be there, then see if the vet can bring an assistant. You catch the horse, feed her some carrots and say your goodbyes, hand her over to the assistant and leave. The vet and the assistant put her down and wait for whoever is handling disposal for you. For me, I *need* to be there...but if it would be better for you not to be, then I'm sure there's someone who would be willing to hold the horse for you. If you were around here, I'd even help you out.

          Comment


          • #25
            Originally posted by Lady Eboshi View Post
            My old boss & mentor at the riding school where I worked growing up had a great saying: "It costs just as much to feed a bad horse as it does a good one." There are too many nice ones out there who need a home and would be happy, healthy, and enriching to your life as using horses to feel guilty about putting up with something pathologically damaged. Do NOT guilt yourself up about this.

            I've been in your shoes and there are some things you just can't fix. I once owned a jumper prospect I bred, about whom the trainer said, "they can't build the line at Spruce Meadows that I can't jump him down." Unfortunately, he couldn't be kept in a stall because he lost his mind, couldn't be gotten on a trailer without enough Ace to knock down an elephant, and BELIEVE ME the best in the business tried with the utmost motivation and failed. He'd been handled with textbook perfection by pros since the day he was born. The difference between maybe being worth 6 figures or totally being a goose egg was that one loose screw. If something happened to you, that horse would probably be destined for a lifetime of abuse by a long, descending food chain of others who think they can "fix" her. And they probably can't.

            Don't beat yourself up, just call the numbers to get it done. There are things in life that don't work out, and the space she vacates will hopefully, in due course, be filled by the horse you had hoped she might become. Do the courageous thing and you will save her from suffering. Karma will reward you . . .
            Personally, defining a good horse vs. a bad horse is relative. Many "bad" horses are made into "good" horses.

            It's when the road to get there after experienced help and training doesn't help. When it doesn't, whether it be by a horse's history of abuse it can't get over, or from reaction to pain that cannot be relieved that may make it become behaviorly dangerous, or by a genetic reason for behavioral abnormalities that also keep it dangerous...that's the hard part.

            To me, the reason for euthing this horse for the OP as I read it, is not about a having a good horse as a replacement.

            To me, it's about realizing the dangerous horse could hurt someone if it is passed "down the line" to someone with less experience, coupled with no knowledge of the horse's problem.

            And for this reason, the OP is doing the right thing for the horse and for humankind.
            www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
            "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
            Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube

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            • #26
              Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
              For an animal, today is forever. They have no concept of life expectancy or quality of life vs quantity of life etc. If she is good right now in her mind she is good forever. Makes no difference to her if forever is only for the rest of the day.
              Laurierace beat me to it.
              "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

              ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

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              • #27
                The gist of what I was saying wasn't quite "good horse vs. bad horse." It was "unhappy versus 'life is good enough'" on the horse's side of things. It was also, "will someone else get hurt or not." There are many "good" horses out there who have downsides for people-- they disappoint us, they cost us money and can't do what we want, they have stuff that's hard to manage. Those are "bad" horses for people, too. But you have to draw the line with these good/bad horses: IMO, if the horse is a danger to other people, or the HO cannot find a place that will manage her, then the horse solidly does fall into that category of "bad." The other end of the good/bad category is still in the grey zone.
                The armchair saddler
                Politically Pro-Cat

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                • #28
                  Originally posted by Ghazzu View Post
                  Laurierace beat me to it.
                  Yes. Laurierace said this in a way that is so spot on. I actually cut and pasted her replies to a Word doc an printed them out have on hand if I should face such a hard decision.
                  www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                  "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                  Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    I recently had to put my gorgeous, seemingly happy and healthy 8 y/o eventing horse down. He had a minor mystery lameness that cropped up and after tons of farrier visits, vet visits, and a final hospital visit it was determined that he had had a fractured neck as a baby and now the arthritis and bony changes were putting pressure on his spinal cord, causing him to be neurologic. We took x-rays to confirm, but I put him down same day. I had seen his demenaor completely change over the six weeks of diagnostic testing. He simply wasn't happy any more. He was in constant nerve pain, it was guaranteed to get progressively worse, and he just wasn't going to enjoy life standing in a stall. I mistakenly posted to FB and the vultures certainly did descend. I agree, though, that if the horse has no quality of life or is a true danger to itself or others, it is the kind and responsible thing to do put it to sleep. I just encourage you to do it quietly and be confident about your decision. Other people may try to criticize you, but the point is that you are doing what you're doing out of love and respect for the horse. You know that I believe your horse will know that too.

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      All my best to you at what must be a very tough time.

                      Even if the horse's quality of life seems fine now, neuro stuff is unpredictable and can go from fine to nightmarish so quickly. Nobody wants an animal to have to go through that -- better to make the decision while it is still a tough one and make sure her story doesn't end with an accident that hurts her or someone around her.

                      You are making a responsible decision and you clearly have her best interest in mind. Hang in there and know that there's a lot of support out there for you!
                      Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        I'm so sorry you are faced with this decision. A woman at a barn I boarded at several years ago was in a situation very similar to yours. Her horse was young and appeared healthy, but when test after test revealed no clear cut answer for his behavior she made the difficult decision to put him down. It's never easy but it is sometimes the right thing to do. (((Hugs)))

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          You're Doing the right thing.

                          I had a dog that was an unpredictable biter. Sweet & calm one moment, Tooth and claw the next. He was PTS for the safety of the people around him.

                          It was a hard decision, as is yours.
                          Equus makus brokus but happy

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            My heart goes out to you. I think you are a very brave person, and have come to the right decision. I also think it might not be a bad thing for you to see a human counselor- not because you are weak, but because you are fa cing something so incredibly hard... just to sort things out to the point you are (more) at peace with it.

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                              I am glad I was able to help. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. If an animal is suffering they think they will feel this way forever. There is no, maybe tomorrow will be a better day for them.
                              None of mine are suffering... I wouldn't do that to a loved one. Just deteriorating!! My heart horse has squamous cell cancer in one eye, but nerve damage has him feeling no pain. He still bucks and plays and his weight is staying up due to "creative feeding". My dog also has cancer and two aspirin a day and Red Cell has her comfortable and happy. The old broodmare just looks like sh**, but is sound and happy. Thankfully, at this point, I am the only one in pain!!! None of them will be allowed to suffer.
                              Last edited by crosscreeksh; Apr. 8, 2013, 10:28 PM. Reason: spelling error.
                              www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
                              Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #35
                                Part of me feels I need to be there when she is put down....maybe as my "punishment" for failing her? I know that is stupid, but I think that is how I feel.

                                DH is avoiding the discussion as predicted. I just want the decision made so I can make my peace with it.


                                Originally posted by blame_the_champagne View Post
                                I recently had to put my gorgeous, seemingly happy and healthy 8 y/o eventing horse down. He had a minor mystery lameness that cropped up and after tons of farrier visits, vet visits, and a final hospital visit it was determined that he had had a fractured neck as a baby and now the arthritis and bony changes were putting pressure on his spinal cord, causing him to be neurologic. We took x-rays to confirm, but I put him down same day. I had seen his demenaor completely change over the six weeks of diagnostic testing. He simply wasn't happy any more. He was in constant nerve pain, it was guaranteed to get progressively worse, and he just wasn't going to enjoy life standing in a stall. I mistakenly posted to FB and the vultures certainly did descend. I agree, though, that if the horse has no quality of life or is a true danger to itself or others, it is the kind and responsible thing to do put it to sleep. I just encourage you to do it quietly and be confident about your decision. Other people may try to criticize you, but the point is that you are doing what you're doing out of love and respect for the horse. You know that I believe your horse will know that too.
                                Sorry to hear about your gelding. Actually my chiro thinks this may be the issue with my gelding (retired for the past two years). We are getting him x-rayed this Friday. I don't think that wondering about him is helping me either. Did it freak you out at all to think you had been riding a horse with a fractured neck?
                                Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  I'm so sorry that you're going through this process. It's hard no matter what kind of animal you own, and you are showing what a thoughtful, caring, and responsible pet owner you are by thinking this through.

                                  As a 15-year vet tech, I have euthanized many animals, myself. I feel strongly that it is a very kind way to go, and would wish it upon myself should I be in unbearable pain. At the risk of sounding new-agey, I will say that there is a very clear moment when the spirit of the animal leaves, and the body left behind is simply a body, no longer a being. If it helps, it's always been very clear to me that there's an "ahh" moment for the animal.

                                  I remember when I was in tech school that the large-animal vet teaching us mentioned a drug that will get the horse to lie down first, before the euthanasia solution is given. It started with a G, but I don't remember what it was. You might ask about that.

                                  One of my friends put her horse down a couple of years ago for this type of reason---the mare just basically became extremely aggressive. She was otherwise healthy, and mostly sound. My friend opted to make sure nobody else was ever at risk of being hurt by this mare.

                                  You are doing the right thing.

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    I've got a horse that has them in both eyes.
                                    She doesn't see perfectly anyway but this doesn't help. She's happy and otherwise healthy so far............

                                    OP you're doing the best you can do - you've done all you know to do.
                                    ((Hugs))

                                    Originally posted by crosscreeksh View Post
                                    None of mine are suffering... I wouldn't do that to a loved one. Just deteriorating!! My heart horse has squamous cell cancer in one eye, but nerve damage has him feeling no pain. He still bucks and plays and his weight is staying up due to "creative feeding". My dog also has cancer and two aspirin a day and Red Cell has her comfortable and happy. The old broodmare just looks like sh**, but is sound and happy. Thankfully, at this point, I am the only one in pain!!! None of them will be allowed to suffer.
                                    The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.
                                    H. Cate

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      I made the very hard decision to put a perfectly healthy younger TB down a few year ago.
                                      He was wonderfully talented, one of the best jumpers I've known but something wasn't right. After two injuries and a few other minor incidents where nothing triggered the complete meltdown, we did put him down.
                                      It was the only way I could sleep at night.
                                      Hugs to you, it is not easy but you can rest a little easier knowing she doesn't have to battle with her demons anymore and you can keep yourself and others safe.

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        CHT, you've not failed her. It sounds like you have explored a lot of avenues and have come to the best solution. Choosing to make her end a GOOD, KIND one is doing RIGHT.

                                        Failing her would be selling her at auction or something else along those lines. You're taking responsibility and making sure she doesn't suffer or injure herself or others.

                                        I know it's a really, really tough decision to make. But put away any talk of failure here. Sometimes horses are broken past recovery, either mentally or physically. It would be nice if these broken horses presented with a broken leg or a critical colic, so our choices would be more black and white, but that's not how the world works, unfortunately. But that doesn't mean that the choice to euthanize is any less vital and important.

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          One option would be donate her to a vet school with the understanding she be used for teaching (nothing cruel) and given a peaceful end. In some way she might even contribute to learning what caused her issues or how to prevent them in another horse in the future. Just an idea.

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