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Getting rid of a basically useless horse.

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  • Getting rid of a basically useless horse.

    Long story: A few years back I took in a new boarder (NB) with a "green" horse. Unfortunately he wasn't so much green as horribly spoiled. (coincidentally a client had looked at the same horse before this person bought him, and I saw how horrible his training was it isn't current owner's doing). NB made the mistake of keeping the horse at the sellers barn and it didn't go well (horse developed bad heaves so she couldn't do more than walk him for 8 MONTHS - that's another story).

    Anyway, we had a good summer with him in 2018, and even got him off property for a hack...he is better outside than in, which is surprising as he had never been ridden outside previously (literally, never). But last summer was too smoky or wet to be outside much. By good I mean we could canter tiny cross poles once and a while, and usually canter without him bucking.

    But...NB can only ride once or twice a week...sometimes not at all (partially because of her schedule, but partially because I think she can't motivate herself to ride outside of lessons). Horse is unpredictable and will bog down at the canter (and can buck), and can't even walk a pole on the ground inside.

    Add to that, her sister has an almost as useless horse they inherited from the grandmother...a horse that they wasted paying for full training for 18 months...but I have no idea what they got for their money...this one at least has some potential to be a solid citizen.

    And now the point: NB is a young adult who is realizing she is wasting a LOT of money on a horse that scares her. She is close to embarking on a career and can't afford to be hurt. He is NOT leaseable, and she does NOT have the money to put him in training.

    Honestly, I think his only real "next home" is the rendering plant. How do you tell someone that and help them be ok with it?

    A long time ago a trainer helped me "get rid" of an equally dangerous horse by taking him in part trade for one of her homebreds. I had no idea she was taking him to the slaughter plant until years later. In hindsight, it was quite the kindness from someone who didn't even know me, but was apparently tired of seeing me being on a dangerous equine at shows. (why I was at shows is another topic...what was my own trainer thinking?). I, unfortunately, cannot afford to help in this way.

    I am wondering if approaching local "Start up" trainers and offering him for free might be the easiest option? He is a registered warmblood.

    And no, I have zero interest in riding him myself. I hardly have enough health/energy to ride my own horses right now...I am not risking myself on this one.
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

  • #2
    Spend the money and euthanize him. Dropping him off at a slaughter plant or auction is cruel and despicable.


    • #3
      The niece of a friend of mine was in a similar situation. She gave the horse to a cowboy, who breeds cattle and roping horses. The former renegade horse is happy working in the feedlot and living out with the herd.

      This horse is sound, though. He just had some really bad experiences. But if yours is sound, you might be able to find him a situation like this.


      • #4
        How dangerous is he? A buck isn't that big of a deal for many people.

        Anyway this isn't your problem so I can't blame you for not wanting to attempt to make him saleable. I think your best bet is to find someone, that you know is capable and ethical, who can deal with a buck and see if they'd take him.

        If he's so bad that he needs PTS let the owner know that it may be the only option, down the road.


        • #5
          Otherwise, I agree with enjoytheride.


          • #6
            An adult who is embarking on a career needs to be able to hear difficult news and make a decision. All you can do it lay it out to her But I'd recommend not using terms such as 'get rid of', or suggest slaughter or rendering plant. I'd explain that euthanization is humane and not at all unreasonable, because there is no "better home" for this horse. It doesn't sound like there are any qualities that suggest he has great potential or would be attractive as a project horse for a trainer. A dangerous / unadoptable dog that gets turned over to a shelter is euthanized. There are no similar shelters for horses, so it's up to the owner to do the difficult deed. I'd point out that because she loves him, she is the most likely to secure for him a painless end without suffering. Any "free to good home" situations, if she could even find one, is likely to end up with him suffering for a long time and possibly on a truck to CAN or MEX.
            And then it's up to her. This is something every horse owner needs to be able to confront, or they should not own the horse.


            • #7
              How are his ground manners? If he's fine on the ground, I see so many ads looking for companion horses. If he can't be rehomed to a cowboy type or someone who doesn't mind a buck, he may just have a future as a pasture puff keeping someone else's company. With something included in the sale in writing that future owner is aware he is NOT ridable.

              If none of this is possible, then I agree it would be kindest to have him euthanized humanely instead of sending him off to the less than scrupulous fate of a slaughterhouse.


              • #8
                I am facing something similar. Horse that is no use other than decorative. The responsible thing to do is to euthanise. (Eta: have offered him as a companion. Nobody wants to take on the added expense of keeping a second horse.)
                No matter where you go, there you are


                • #9
                  I'd say give him away to a capable trainer who can solve problems and ask that he be euthanized rather than sent to slaughter if it doesn't work out.

                  I read your post as a long story of mismanagement and a rider who has too much horse for her skill level. This happens a lot. I get to see alot of adult re-riders and beginners come through our self board barn. I have seen so many greenish horses become huge problems for these owners. Then it takes them either a couple of years to learn enough to fix the problems or they get rid of the horse or they just do groundwork forever.

                  I see alot in your story to account for bad behaviour and unfortunately once an owner becomes too scared of the horse to work it consistently you are on a downward spiral.

                  Now if the horse had been in a pro training program for 3 months and remained dangerous, that's another thing.

                  But I think it's a little unfair to send a horse to slaughter just because no human in his life has been able to step up and work with him.

                  Fortunately people like WB geldings so I'm sure you can find a project horse home for him.


                  • #10
                    Useless horses are at such risk. There are far worse things that a quiet end on a sunny day. I'd also euthanize.

                    Explaining what happens to horses who bounce through livestock auctions, wind up in a killer lot and then ship to Mexico or Canada for slaughter might make an impression? It's just so important to understand that soft landings for useless horses are rare


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by hybriseris View Post
                      How are his ground manners? If he's fine on the ground, I see so many ads looking for companion horses. If he can't be rehomed to a cowboy type or someone who doesn't mind a buck, he may just have a future as a pasture puff keeping someone else's company. With something included in the sale in writing that future owner is aware he is NOT ridable.

                      If none of this is possible, then I agree it would be kindest to have him euthanized humanely instead of sending him off to the less than scrupulous fate of a slaughterhouse.
                      I have a useless pony and there are zero companion homes out there. Or a very low percentage. It's highly likely those people are looking for slaughter horses.


                      • #12
                        I would just make it crystal clear to the boarder that once you give up ownership you also give up any control over that horses future. Heck even leases can end horribly.

                        If the horse is dangerous or unsound, than euthanasia is the kindest option.

                        If the horse is sound, athletic, and just needs a serious tune up and a future with a competent rider, than reach out to every trainer within a few hours. Doesn't need to be a "start up" trainer. If it's a horse with potential any good trainer may be able to make some money. My trainer took in four thoroughbreds over the winter for free. They were all race bred, 5-7 years old, but had never been handled. All are going w-t-c now and will likely sell from $3k-5k without much trouble. A nice looking WB with the same skill set would sell for more around here.


                        • Original Poster

                          GoodTimes I would take unhandled over spoiled any day of the week. horse's former own would just avoid doing anything that the horse struggled with, and kept him in a tiny bubble. He is good at "novel" things (things that former owner never did with him), so maybe a totally new life would suit him, but hay prices here have been going up, and the number of very cheap prospects of a more reasonable age are increasing. I guess it can't hurt to try to find him a new home though, but obviously now is a bad time with Covid-19.

                          A rendering plant is not a slaughter plant. Rendering implies euthanasia. I should have been more clear.

                          Way back when the trainer slaughter my gelding we still had a slaughtering plant in was a different time (30 years ago!)
                          Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                          • #14
                            Note that OP also said horse has bad heaves which makes it even less likely he will end up in a good second career.


                            • #15
                              I euthanized a dangerous spoiled horse (ended up also having HYPP)

                              I now have another worthless horse sitting in my pasture. It’s no fun. Wouldn’t even make a cowboy prospect because he wigs out around cows. Honestly I guess when the time comes I’ll let DH put said horse to sleep.



                              • #16
                                Wait. What? Horses can be useful?
                                "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by CHT View Post
                                  Way back when the trainer slaughter my gelding we still had a slaughtering plant in was a different time (30 years ago!)
                                  Right, that's the thing, those options are gone as the U.S. Congress has shut it all down in this country. It is the trip and the often long process into Mexican slaughterhouses that are more horrendous than the actual slaughter. And any horse could end up discarded in some pen along the way, even at the border, virtually forgotten, based on various factors that occur during the trip.

                                  Euthanasia and remains disposal can be a little bit pricey depending on where you are, and how you do it. It might be several hundred dollars.

                                  But it is the last money that will be spent on this horse. If she does not get another horse, after that bill is settled up, her horse money will become her own discretionary funds. And she'll know that the horse will be safe from abuse and starvation, which are unfortunately a likely future in his case.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                                    But I think it's a little unfair to send a horse to slaughter just because no human in his life has been able to step up and work with him.
                                    It's terribly unfair.

                                    But who's going to take him, and ensure he has at least a serviceable quality of life, for however long he lives?

                                    The theoretical and the practical reality don't always meet up.

                                    I hope OP can find a good place for him.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post

                                      It's terribly unfair.

                                      But who's going to take him, and ensure he has at least a serviceable quality of life, for however long he lives?

                                      The theoretical and the practical reality don't always meet up.

                                      I hope OP can find a good place for him.
                                      YES. With his issues and heaves the likelihood that someone will take him on as a project resale horse is pretty much zero.


                                      • #20
                                        With all do respect, I don't believe that anyone here has enough knowledge of the situation at hand to say whether euthanization is ethical or not. I agree with Scribbler here. I also read your description as "mismanagement and a rider who has too much horse for her skill level." Under a previous trainer known for fixing behavioral issues, I've seen a few horses that were very dangerous for different issues. You couldn't even approach the stall of one as he would attack and another had the constant habit of throwing riders, even with a somewhat experienced rider as an owner. Both of these horses needed some serious training, but in the end they did turn around. Much of it was as you say "a spoiled horse" with no comprehension of ground manners, some of it was undiagnosed pain and the rest was an owner who did not know any better. That isn't to say that the horse in your description is fixable, but that I can't really give you a definite answer on whether or not he is.

                                        There are a few options that could be done before euthanizing. What is clear is that this horse's owner does not have the resources, ability nor time to work with this horse. It also sounds like no investigations had been done to look for undiagnosed pain. I think trying to find a capable trainer or capable rider to give this horse to with full disclosure would be a good attempt. She could also attempt to give him away as a pasture pet; however, if he does have dangerous tendencies, then I would be wary of this in case someone does decide to try and work with him in the future.

                                        I don't know the stage of his heaves, so that could definitely be a limiting factor in re homing; however a horse of mine has had heaves for 6 years. I thought that I'd have to retire him, but with the right environment and maintenance without regular drugs, he has really came around. He actually has not had any respiratory attack for 2 years and rarely coughs now, plus his average respiration has dropped from an initial 26+ breaths per min 6 years ago to under 16 now. Heaves is manageable in the right circumstances and horses can certainly continue riding competitively if those measures are taken.

                                        As far as slaughter goes, I do feel that is unfair to the horse just because no one within proximity is able to adequately work with the horse. Unless the horse has something neurologically wrong with him, It's the people who have made him this way and he doesn't understand that his behavior is dangerous to you and other handlers. Does that mean that he should suffer in slaughter?