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  • Feeling stuck

    Posting this as an alter for reasons you'll see.

    I'm almost 40 years old. I am single so everything I do happens on one income, $55k range. I've owned a horse and have been responsible for all its expenses since I was 18 (I had one, that one had to be put down and I got another). I've always had enough money but not tons extra. Basically I've supported my horse all of these years at the expense of retirement savings. My 401k has $40k in it and that is all I have saved toward retirement.

    My horse is now around 27-28 years old and retired. I have gotten his expenses as low as I reasonably can. He is pasture boarded for $250 which includes his feed and hay. He's barefoot and trims are $25 every 6 weeks. He has cushings so he's on Prascend at around $55 a month. And of course, horses, so there's always the random vet bills and little supplies needed, which I have tried to keep as minimal as possible.

    Lately I've been thinking about how much more money I could sock away toward retirement if I didn't still have him on my payroll. Last year he averaged me $435 a month and that was with no cushings meds, started those this year. If he were 10 years younger, I'd have already sold him. I am realistic in that I know there is no one that would want him as free to a good home. Although I have not attempted to look, I realize that if I am no longer wanting to pay to care for him why would anyone else. I would never send him along to an auction or a sale. That leaves me with continuing on with his retirement board for however long that may be or putting him down. I think I actually would be fairly comfortable putting him down. This horse has had a good, long life. He's been retired 2 years so it's not like he's suddenly unrideable so I'm tossing him aside. But I have no idea how I would find a vet that would agree to put down a fairly healthy horse.

    I just am over it. I know, I am horrible but it just is the truth. At this point, I'm funding my horse's retirement to the detriment of my own retirement. I am so far behind where I should be. I guess this is more of a vent than anything. If he had any even slightly major medical issue come up, I'd put him down but with my luck, this horse is going to live another 10 years.

  • #2
    I think many of us have been in this situation at one time or another. He's aged, has a progressive disease that is manageable but still. Most vets will euthanize a horse in his situation. Make a call to your own vet and discuss your questions. Choose a lovely day, stuff him full of treats, have your plan in place for burial or rendering, get a friend on standby for hugs/kleenex/shoulder to cry on/alcohol/chocolate/ice cream etc.

    If it helps, I've sent one on his way in just this way for a dear friend. It was at my farm, she boarded him there. He was a bit worse off health wise, but not much. Her life had changed drastically (divorce, she hadn't worked in years) and there was no way she could continue supporting her 25 year old boy. It was hard, but you know what? Horses don't know there's a tomorrow, only the moment they are in. Good luck and hugs. Tough decisions are no fun, but we are here to support you.
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

    Comment


    • #3
      well. looking back to your age... yes if I Could have had put the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on the horses into retirement I would be drawing a fabulous check each month...but I am still OK

      Lifestyle has been adjusted to being happy with a old car and old truck. Nothing fancy as to what I do but the memories of the horses we had is nice to hold onto as my days come nearer to the end

      Pay yourself first would be a good thing to do.
      Not responsible for typographical errors.

      Comment


      • #4
        You are caring, responsible person with an elderly retired horse standing in a field. Sometimes I wonder if a horse enjoys retirement just standing in a field? Talk to your vet about your options but putting your horse to sleep before the winter cold and further decline in health might well be the kindest thing you can do.
        "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by OverItAltered View Post
          with my luck, this horse is going to live another 10 years.
          we have pony who is in his mid forties...and the vet who saw him last month says he has a few more decades in him it appears
          Not responsible for typographical errors.

          Comment


          • #6
            I am putting my old horse down this fall. She’s 26, so younger than yours and is in relatively good health. The thing is, she has a weak hind end and I can see that getting up and down is harder than it used to be. Last year she fell on the ice and it took us 45 minutes to get her up and into the barn. I don’t want her to die like that, so this will be her last summer. Will it hurt? Oh yes, it will. I’ve had her for 20+ years and she has never caused me a moment of grief. She looks so healthy until you get to that left hind and cringe.
            As someone said, horses don’t worry about tomorrow. Give your guy lots of love and then let him go. He’s earned a quick and painless death and you will have that worry off your mind. Good luck, it’s a tough decision.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thank you all for being so kind. I guess I am assuming there is no way that my vet would agree to euthanize my horse in his current condition. Yes, he's definitely old and he's got cushings but he's sound and seems like the type of horse that could easily live another 10 years. (I had been slowly easing his workload throughout the years, at the point I decided to retire him we were doing easy walking trail rides only. On our last ride he tripped and went to his knees and I came off. Given that this was the 5th time the horse had almost fallen and/or completely fallen in the 10 years i owned him, I decided to not press my luck and retired him completely).

              I know logically that you are all right and even though I don't think I personally would feel a lot of guilt, I think those around me would be horrified that I was putting down a relatively healthy, just elderly, animal. I suppose I could wait awhile longer but whenever the status quo with him changes, approach it then with my vet. I guess I could also approach it when I next see her just to see what her stance may be. I have a feeling it would be an awkward conversation.

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm basically in the same position only I have 3 lol. 29, 24 and 19. I would love to get a young horse and get seriously riding and competing again but I really don't want to pay for and care for 4. Eventually Im sure I will but for right now I'm super busy with other aspects of life so.... I would feel way too guilty putting them down but it really does suck to think about spending so much money and work for many more years. I look at pictures of when they were younger and how they came through for me at shows, etc . and that makes me feel even more rotten to think these thoughts. Sigh....

                Comment


                • #9
                  None of my vets have ever questioned my reason for putting a horse down. Having had several, along with those I boarded for others this has come up more often than for most people. Vets were always kind and helpful, none of them ever made me feel guilty

                  It is easier for me emotionally to put them down than to see them in pain or discomfort. Fortunately for me economics were not a problem.

                  Remember the sayig ' better too soon rather than a day too late.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I had a young (6 year old) Quarter horse that I had to euthanize for complicated reasons. On the outside he appeared healthy, but had sustained an injury before I got him that made him dangerous to ride. I did not want him to fall into the wrong hands, so I had him put down. I got a lot of crap from two of the boarders, but at the end of the day I made the right decision for the horse.
                    It’s always hard to make that choice. You have my sympathy and support.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Your finances must factor into healthcare decisions for your horse. How much you are willing to spend is affected by what the results will likely be.

                      I have a horse with PPID/Cushings. I don't think I would medicate a horse of that age for this disease. It is degenerative and by this point much, irreparable damage has been done internally. All the drug does is slow further degeneration.

                      I don't think you're a horrible person. You've looked after him well. And if you stopped riding because he went down under you, don't forget there is probably a reason and he could go down badly in his field and break a leg or something. I don't think euthanasia is a terrible option.

                      (((hugs))) Stop beating yourself up.

                      Mine were 26 and 18 when I euthanized - just so you know I really do understand.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Do what you feel is best for BOTH of you.
                        My standby has always been (for all my animals, not just horses) can they survive by themselves if I no longer could take care of them? In other words, what would nature do? If I felt like a horse would be able to live happily and comfortably into his or her 20's and even 30's in relative comfort without huge interventions on my part, so be it. I watched a lady keep two horses with Cushing's going far longer than I would have. One was the type that would gain weight/founder like crazy, the other was the type that lost weight like crazy/couldn't keep it on. It was costing her a bunch in meds, but fortunately since she owned the property/barn, she could keep them longer than most.
                        Truly sorry to hear when anyone has to make this decision. I wish you the best.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Give him one last great day, take some photos and say goodbye. You need to take care of yourself. And don't feel the need to discuss it with anyone. You don't need to justify your decision. Take care.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Cat Tap View Post
                            None of my vets have ever questioned my reason for putting a horse down. .
                            Well I must have the odd vet because he will not put a healthy horse down for convenience there must be a compelling reason. And I agree with him, so it isn't an issue for us.
                            Not responsible for typographical errors.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by clanter View Post

                              Well I must have the odd vet because he will not put a healthy horse down for convenience there must be a compelling reason. And I agree with him, so it isn't an issue for us.
                              I have never put down a healthy horse for convenience, there was always a reason but the vets didn't question my decision.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                OP, you're not alone, as you've seen, and I think you're right to be asking these questions. If it makes you feel better, you're better financially than I am, at the same age.

                                I was in the same frame of mind as you about my 33-year old mare this spring. The difference was that she did not winter well last year, and never gained back the weight. As it turned out, she colicked and the choice was made. But yesterday I realized that if she hadn't colicked, I'd still be facing that decision in a month or two.

                                Your horse has lived a very good life. Call your vet. Talk to him frankly about the issues of Cushings, the problems of keeping him over the winter, the fact that you worry for him if something were to happen to you. Then have a good friend come over for moral support and pick the day. No one is going to blame you for doing what is right for both you and your horse.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by clanter View Post

                                  Well I must have the odd vet because he will not put a healthy horse down for convenience there must be a compelling reason. And I agree with him, so it isn't an issue for us.
                                  I honestly am not sure that my vet would put my horse down in his current condition. He's old. And he has cushings but other than that, he gets around pretty well for the time being. After this thread though, I am at least going to broach it with her to get her stance on it. And I do think that if a new medical issue were to come up or his cushings got worse, she'd agree with me at that point.

                                  However, Clanter, our circumstances are much different. If I had my own farm and could easily afford the upkeep of an elderly horse while meeting my other financial goals, I'd not be thinking about putting down a 'healthy' horse either. But at his age, I really don't have many other options. I can try to give him away. I send him to an auction or a sale. Or I put him down. Is there another I'm missing?

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by OverItAltered View Post
                                    Posting this as an alter for reasons you'll see.

                                    I'm almost 40 years old. I am single so everything I do happens on one income, $55k range. I've owned a horse and have been responsible for all its expenses since I was 18 (I had one, that one had to be put down and I got another). I've always had enough money but not tons extra. Basically I've supported my horse all of these years at the expense of retirement savings. My 401k has $40k in it and that is all I have saved toward retirement.

                                    My horse is now around 27-28 years old and retired. I have gotten his expenses as low as I reasonably can. He is pasture boarded for $250 which includes his feed and hay. He's barefoot and trims are $25 every 6 weeks. He has cushings so he's on Prascend at around $55 a month. And of course, horses, so there's always the random vet bills and little supplies needed, which I have tried to keep as minimal as possible.

                                    Lately I've been thinking about how much more money I could sock away toward retirement if I didn't still have him on my payroll. Last year he averaged me $435 a month and that was with no cushings meds, started those this year. If he were 10 years younger, I'd have already sold him. I am realistic in that I know there is no one that would want him as free to a good home. Although I have not attempted to look, I realize that if I am no longer wanting to pay to care for him why would anyone else. I would never send him along to an auction or a sale. That leaves me with continuing on with his retirement board for however long that may be or putting him down. I think I actually would be fairly comfortable putting him down. This horse has had a good, long life. He's been retired 2 years so it's not like he's suddenly unrideable so I'm tossing him aside. But I have no idea how I would find a vet that would agree to put down a fairly healthy horse.

                                    I just am over it. I know, I am horrible but it just is the truth. At this point, I'm funding my horse's retirement to the detriment of my own retirement. I am so far behind where I should be. I guess this is more of a vent than anything. If he had any even slightly major medical issue come up, I'd put him down but with my luck, this horse is going to live another 10 years.
                                    Your horse is elderly, retired and has Cushings. I would stick it out as he likely will be passing over in the next 1-3 yrs. Then you can decide next steps. IMO- I would not give him away. I would not put him down until he is ready to go. This is a short term situation. If this horse was 7 or 8 and you needed to do something, I think that is a different situation.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I AM a veterinarian. I view humane euthanasia (especially after a REALLY GOOD last day) as a kind and loving last gift. It is a very rare occasion that I question the request--most people have put a lot of thought and anguish into the idea before they even bring it up, just like you are doing.

                                      In fact, what I am more likely to question is the choice NOT to euthanize when it is apparent to me that the patient is deteriorating.

                                      I think it is absolutely ok to give an animal you love an easy way out BEFORE they hit rock bottom. I tell my owners not to second guess whatever decision they make, whether it's to stop now or try one more thing (assuming the patient isn't in constant pain with no hope of recovery, in which case you'd better believe I will say it is not acceptable to keep this patient alive).

                                      Most people make the choice out of love for the animal. I say don't second guess, but I know they will. Hell, I do it--did I wait too long? Did I try too many things just to buy some time? Is there one more magic thing I should have tried?

                                      It sucks. Sometimes it's an obvious call--this one needs to stop suffering RIGHT NOW. Usually it isn't that easy.

                                      There is a page called the Journeys Quality of Life Calculator to which I direct people--it is geared toward dogs, but the principle is the same. What i find helpful about it compared to other scales is that it asks how much stress does caring for this animal put on you, the owner?

                                      https://journeyspet.com/pet-quality-...le-calculator/

                                      I often feel like my clients come to me for my blessing or permission to euthanize. I do what I can to assuage the inevitable guilt they feel, because I've been there too. And your vet has been there.

                                      I give you my blessing to make this choice. I am sorry for how much it sucks. I would be very surprised if your veterinarian, who has been on this journey with you, would refuse to euthanize your horse.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I think you are smart to not try to give him away but rather do the right thing for him yourself. his fate could be infinitely worse if he leaves your care.

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