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Putting a mostly healthy horse down. The emotional side.

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  • Putting a mostly healthy horse down. The emotional side.

    Ok, so maybe this is better answered by a mental health practitioner, but hoping for some words of wisdom.

    I feel the responsible and intelligent thing to do is put my red mare down. Not because she is not pasture sound, or old, but because she is unsafe to be around, and high stress to manage. Vet results came back with no obvious case, but there is strong evidence to support a combo of a genetic cause, as well as a neurological cause. Yes I could spend more money and more time to find a diagnosis, but I truly feel that I would just be doing so to put of the inevitable more than actually feeling like we will find something.

    But how do I put her down? When I think about the actual act of doing it I completely break down. But I also break down when I think about dealing with her into the future as she seems to be progressing in a downward spin. I feel like I am playing GOD. I wish I had someone to make the decision for me, but it is my decision and it is tearing me apart. All week I have felt like I can't breathe.

    I was so hoping the vet would find something to either give me hope or to make the decision easier, but no.

    Any words of wisdom are welcome, but I am hoping that you will find enough tact to not question my decision.
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

  • #2
    Ack

    Any time we put an animal down, we're playing God, in a sense.

    PTS a dangerous 1200lb animal could be saving the life of a human, if that helps you at all, particularly if she is getting worse. She may well have a brain tumor, and even if you were to figure that out (which is not likely), there's nothing you could do.
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

    Comment


    • #3
      This might not be popular but I would put down both of my perfectly healthy horses before I'd sell them. You just never know where they might end up and I won't risk it for them. With your mare and the dangerous tendencies- you are doing a good thing for her. God forbid she hurt someone, you can't go back in time and get it done, it will be too late. In her case, I don't think it's 100% a matter of *her* it's a matter of the people who might get hurt. That fact might make it a little easier on you.
      Kerri

      Comment


      • #4
        Putting an unsafe horse down is the right thing to do. Not easy, but the right thing. My trainer had a 2-3 yro he bred that was just not right; rather than endanger anyone else, or his reputation, he shot it and fed the coyotes. Not what anyone wants to do to a horse they've bred and raised.

        I got a call that my retired (several states over) mare was lame and needed to be put down. I made the decision, then promptly got plowed, even drunk dialed an ex (who actually answered :O!) By the time I sobered up, I got a call back that the horse was doing much better...

        Just remember that the right thing to do is rarely the easy thing to do.
        Visit my Spoonflower shop

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        • #5
          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.
          McDowell Racing Stables

          Home Away From Home

          Comment


          • #6
            "Just remember that the right thing to do is rarely the easy thing to do."

            Bears repeating; perhaps rather than "rarely", just "sometimes not".

            What you are contemplating is a very reasonable thing. While it's emotionally difficult, it is still the right thing. Hang in there--
            "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

            Spay and neuter. Please.

            Comment


            • #7
              When my 3 1/2 year old Stallion became unmanageable we decided that if gelding did not solve the problem we would put him down. Luckily it solved the problem and he is an incredible gelding.

              We also had a homebred mare that had high ringbone and navic in both front feet, she was always dangerous and angry - 5 yrs old - we put her down and the vet was on board from the minute we said it. It was hard but the best thing - as she would always be a danger and always be in pain.

              I think that if you are asking this question, you have already made the decision and are just looking for validation.

              Comment


              • #8
                So sorry you are going thru this...it must be terribly hard. But I didn't read your post and say to myself "What a terrible horse owner"...I read it and was immediately and terribly sad for you, and could tell that you would NOT be doing this unless it was necessary. Again, so sorry. Is there anyone else who could stay with her and the vet so you wouldn't have to be present?

                Comment


                • #9
                  My DH and I both lost parents last year. We were, of course, terribly sad and grief stricken and still miss them every day.

                  A month later, we had to make the decision about our old lab. We could have pursued diagnostics, maybe done some surgery that would have given him more time with us (if not quality of life). Yet for us, being in the position of "playing god" rather than just accepting what happened was much more heart wrenching than what we went through with our parents. We both had sleepless nights leading up to the day.

                  But we both knew it was the right thing. We slept peacefully the night following.

                  I have a friend who has been paying for her neurologic/ too dangerous to ride horse in retirement for far longer than she actually owned the horse. She's facing the ultimate decision as the mare's condition worsens and economic reality becomes overwhelming. She, too, knows what the best, safest decision is, and is grappling with the implementation.

                  This is what we go through as loving, responsible owners.
                  They don't call me frugal for nothing.
                  Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Do you have someone to be with you?

                    I am so terribly sorry you are in this position.

                    Pam
                    "The captive bolt is not a proper tool for slaughter of equids they regain consciousness 30 seconds after being struck fully aware they are being vivisected." Dr Friedlander DVM & frmr Chief USDA Insp

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I just put down my mare for behaviorial issues. I had been able to manage her behavior with a combination of work, consistant discipline and pergolide. Things fell apart when she went lame and couldn't be worked and they quit making her pergolide in the one flavor she would eat.

                      My vet told me that animals don't want to "be bad" and that their behavior is an indication of the stress in their lives. We may not know what the stress is and/or be able to fix it, but the bottom line is that a dangerous horse is not a happy horse and there is no quality to the life. It is a very difficult decision to make and I waffled up until the day I put her down. But it was the right decision.

                      You have my sympathy and if you decide not to put her down, please be careful and make sure you are safe. It is such a relief now to not have to carry a whip when feeeding or be hyper aware of where my mare is anymore. Although I miss her every day.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        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.
                        Thank you for THIS. I'm dealing with an inevitable decision right now with two horses and one dog. It tears at my gut every day, but your words will make it easier. I've been making sure every day is the "BEST" of their lives. Now I hope we will all remember that.
                        www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
                        Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CHT View Post
                          Ok, so maybe this is better answered by a mental health practitioner, but hoping for some words of wisdom.

                          I feel the responsible and intelligent thing to do is put my red mare down. Not because she is not pasture sound, or old, but because she is unsafe to be around, and high stress to manage. Vet results came back with no obvious case, but there is strong evidence to support a combo of a genetic cause, as well as a neurological cause. Yes I could spend more money and more time to find a diagnosis, but I truly feel that I would just be doing so to put of the inevitable more than actually feeling like we will find something.

                          But how do I put her down? When I think about the actual act of doing it I completely break down. But I also break down when I think about dealing with her into the future as she seems to be progressing in a downward spin. I feel like I am playing GOD. I wish I had someone to make the decision for me, but it is my decision and it is tearing me apart. All week I have felt like I can't breathe.

                          I was so hoping the vet would find something to either give me hope or to make the decision easier, but no.

                          Any words of wisdom are welcome, but I am hoping that you will find enough tact to not question my decision.
                          Reality bites, that's all there is to it. The mare must be put down, and that is certainly the responsible, if not the easiest, thing to do.

                          But you are too close emotionally to be the one to actually be there. You would be unnecessarily torturing yourself, and would quite possibly transmit your upset feelings to the mare, doing her no favors. Euth. goes best for all concerned when it is quiet and matter of fact. Honestly, it's over so fast they never know--unless you LET them know.

                          Outsource it. Have a local professional trainer, or the vet, or your farrier, or whomever you trust to handle her take care of it, preferably at the place where she lives so she doesn't sense anything's up. Meanwhile, you go out to lunch with an understanding friend, or just stay away until all is over and done.

                          One more thing--beware "Facebook Syndrome." If you put it out there, fishing for justification, you are calling down the usual band of Flying Monkeys in need of drama who will second-guess you and make you feel like sh*t. Don't broadcast. Just do what you've got to do, and let the professionals do likewise. It sucks but it's got to happen.

                          All best wishes.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            In my life with animals I always try to do the right thing before the bad thing happens. You don't want to put her down AFTER she hurts someone.
                            “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by crosscreeksh View Post
                              Thank you for THIS. I'm dealing with an inevitable decision right now with two horses and one dog. It tears at my gut every day, but your words will make it easier. I've been making sure every day is the "BEST" of their lives. Now I hope we will all remember that.
                              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.
                              McDowell Racing Stables

                              Home Away From Home

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Please remember that your safety comes first. Is there a friend who might stand in for you?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  As hard as it it, I don't think its the wrong decision. As owners, sometimes we between the rock and the hard place, and are forced to weigh whether we want responsibility for taking one life, or the consequences of inflicting a dangerous animal on society. Your mare lives in the here and now, but if she injures someone, both you and the person she injures may have to live with long term consequences.

                                  In the end, you have to live with what your conscience tells you is the right decision and not worry about an outsider's opinion.
                                  Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                                  Witherun Farm
                                  http://witherun-farm.blogspot.com/

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I'm in a similar situation. Nine years ago I felt sorry for a mare i saw at a sale barn. She was in a filthy stall with a catch rope on her halter, the only way she could be handled. Later I found out that she injured two or 3 people. She was absolutely TERRIFIED of people and had a hair trigger panic button. I don't think she meant to hurt anyone however if she panicked she really didn't care how she got out of the situation.
                                    It took a very long time for her to relax and there were things I never asked of her.

                                    Until this past winter when she backed into her water bucket and it got tangled in her tail.

                                    I found her in the morning crouched in her stall shaking.

                                    She wouldn't let me near it so I opened the door and she took off running and bucking and finally got rid of it. Now I can't touch her in her stall. She's OK as long as you don't ask anything at all of her. I'm the only one who handles her and I don't know how long that is sustainable.

                                    I suspect in order to euth her she would require a huge dose of oral Ace first
                                    I wasn't always a Smurf
                                    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
                                    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                                    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      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.
                                      The armchair saddler
                                      Politically Pro-Cat

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        (((hugs))) It's not easy because you care. It is one of the most difficult decisions we have to make for our horses. Is can be the greatest gift we can give them. It's not about us or our control over them; it's about what's the best thing for the horse.

                                        Second - be real for your horse's sake. If she/he is not comfortable for any period and the vet offers something, be direct and upfront and ask the hard questions. Will it improve back to where it was? Will this treatment heal the problem? Will it just mask the problem? Will it create more problems? Will this be an ongoing always treatment? Can I afford it? Then go away and face the answers. Do you just want to prolong your horse's life because "I'm not ready yet"? Believe me, you never will be.
                                        The quote above is from this blog entry http://endgame-journeys-end.blogspot...-toughest.html The entry talks about physical and age related issues, but applies to neurologic, genetic, and mental issues too. Please read the entire entry - it might help.

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