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On losing a horse.

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    On losing a horse.

    I have two horses. One is my heart horse Angel, she's 16 and I will be absolutely devastated when I lose her. The other horse, Stoli is one I have known for about 12 years. He was purchased by a woman who wanted to show him but she had a baby, didn't have time for the horse and he ended up skinny and neglected. He was then given to my friend Vicki who took good care of him but he's the kind of horse that needs to eat all the time to keep weight on him and she did not have the financial resources to feed the hell out of him. But she did love him and tried her best to keep him healthy. We went on so many fun trail rides together. Vicky ended up giving him to my ex in 2013. I fed the hell out to him and he got nice and glossy. When my ex and I split up I offered Stoli to my ex but he didn't want him. I never needed two horses but I felt some obligation to Stoli. He has an attitude, is accident prone, and would likely end up in a bad situation if I didn't keep him. Well Stoli is now very old- I don't know for sure how old but probably close to 30. In the past few months he has really deteriorated. I can't keep weight on him despite lots of food. He had a very swollen leg and the vet came out a few days ago. She asked me what I wanted to do (treat him or put him down). I said let's see if he gets any better on antibiotics. She pulled blood and was started on antibiotics. Now about three days later, just got the blood work back. He has a high white blood cell count, globulin is high, glucose is very low. Basically his immune system is not working. He has not improved on antibiotics. So it's time for him to go. I don't have the bond with this horse that I have with Angel but I have been crying since I heard the prognosis. I've put down cats but never a horse. He has a few days and then it will be over. I am confident I am making the right decision. So tell me about what happened when you put your horse down. Where you there at the very end? Was the body buried, hauled off, or other? Part of me wants to bury him on the property, like my kitty that I lost in January, but that would require a huge hole. So maybe he'll just be hauled off. When he's dead. He's dead. I want to be with him until the end even if it is gruesome. I feel I owe that to him. Did you do anything special for your horses last day? Just wrapping my head around this and looking for advice. It's hard to lose them even when it is the right thing to do.

    Soory for your soon to be loss.

    You dont need to he there to the end.

    For me I led him to where it was going to happen and gave him treats. He was then sedated, so he didnt know if I was there or not. The vet took the lead role for me and said I could leave. I went and hugged another horse until he brought me the halter and lead rope and confirmed it was done.

    There is a thread about folding a horse afterwards and tying in a lying position. A smaller hole is needed, it is easier to get out of a stable and to transport. Some say it can be harder to put in a bucket of a tractor so that is up to you.
    It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.


      They are usually sedated, lay down, and are gone. That is a good time to leave. It can be difficult for your mind to adjust to the idea that the struggle is over.

      What has surprised me over the years is how some horses rest easy on my mind, while with others the grief and pain of their loss haunts me long after they are gone. And you don't know which ones will stick with you and which ones won't. Sometimes it isn't the ones you expect.

      So sorry you are facing this now. He had a good life because of you, remember that.


        So sorry you are in that spot now, but when is time, is the right thing to do, no matter how much sadness that brings.

        Here no one buries any animals any more because of ground contamination issues.
        Yes, one horse is not a problem, but one more and another and another, yes, eventually that can become a problem.
        There have been wells contaminated from that.

        Here we have a service that picks up horses, but, a warning, you don't want to be there when they do.
        Let them do their thing on their own.
        A dead horse laying there is a sad shock to your emotions, much less when is being handled.
        While the horse is laying there, if the vet used medications, be sure nothing else can get to it and get poisoned before it is picked up.
        Make sure they will come right away to avoid that.

        Some big city incinerators accept livestock, but none around here.
        It is also very costly, but if some prefer that, cost is not a concern, why not.

        Since this is your first time, maybe get a supporting friend to be there with you?

        Such a sad place to be, but it seems that is time for him, "this be right".


          I've been with all my horses (animals) when they are put down. You may want to ask your vet about the process, it can be a bit upsetting because the body can do things automatically, nerves firing as they shut down, that makes it seem like they are gasping for breath etc.

          On our old place all were buried there; however, on the new place, one horse was buried on it (before I knew we had an option of burial at the Horseman's Park). When my old horse passed we opted to have him buried at the Horseman's Park, much prettier place, I wish I could have my horse buried here at our place moved there. The man that picked the body is a horse owner so he was very respectful and kind about it. For those buried at our place(s) I stayed to be with the horse till they actually buried them, may not be something you want to see, same for them loading a horse to be buried off site.

          I'm sorry.
          Last edited by js; Sep. 11, 2020, 04:24 PM.


            I wanted to be there, too. But I turned around so I didn't see her go down. The sound haunted me a bit., but I could talk to her until the end. The vet said it didn't take as much as usual, but he finished the dosage to be sure. She was ready to go.

            I spent much of her last days grooming and talking to her. She appreciated that. I think it distracted her from her pain. She was 34 years old and her left front was so arthritic that she started hobbling when walking. One wrong move could have broken it. It was the right time.

            ANother dear old horse went off his feed and showed signs of obstruction from the melanomas growing inside and out (for all those you see there are likely many more inside). We gave him Bute the last few days so he felt as good as possible. We knew he would be put down before it started to bother his tummy, plus teh medicine for his melanomas was also an acid inhibitor. .


              I’m so sorry. I agree you are doing right by this horse. I’ve laid two to rest. I’ve stayed until the end and buried them both. It’s hard.

              Some vets may have alternative services available. In my area, the vet has a particular horse trailer that they will load the horse on, pts on trailer, and then haul away the remains. A friend lives near a vet school and hauls horses there for end of life services. The vet school cremates the remains and sends a nice box afterwards with some ashes and a section of tail.

              Alternative options for burial include digging a large hole with a ramp of sorts and leading horse into grave to be pts.

              For my two, I fed them an excessive last meal and then fed treats until they were so heavily sedated that they no longer took treats. That really helped me as I knew that the horse was not suffering or worried at that point.

              If you opt for on site burial, be aware that doing so in sight of other horses may result in additional heartbreak. Horses calling for their deceased friend as they are placed in the grave will make you lose whatever composure you may have held on to.

              May your horse’s memory be a blessing


                Ask your vet about the process. Most will have contacts for disposal, if you opt to have his remains removed from the property. It can be expensive, depending. All of mine have been buried at the farms they were PTS at, whIch I am very lucky to have been able to do. There are other options as well - zoos will take livestock donations, but require no (drug) euthanasia.

                Whatever you do, you may want to buy a tarp if the removal will not be immediate, and look up how to fold the legs and neck. You can use baling twine, and keep his halter on (until right before removal) and tie the lead to a hind leg to keep him lying folded. It will make it much easier to remove, but will also make it much easier to watch him be removed if you decide to be there for the burial as well.

                Regarding the last day.. it depends on the horse. I spoil them with treats and attention the day before, but usually do not do much besides extra peppermints and treats at breakfast the day of, since one of the horses I PTS picked up on how upset I was and it made his passing tough.

                It is so hard. My heart goes out to you and Stoli. ((hugs))

                AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                  Great point about the other horses, lenapesadie. I actually walked my other horse up to her after she was gone so he could smell her. He never called for her.

                  On site burial is nice, if you can do it. I planted an apple tree over her so she could 'drop apples' again. A shade tree for your other horses is nice, too.

                  With one, we loaded her and sedated her, then the vet gave the shot. We had to haul her away ourselves because our land was too close to a spring. The landfill unloaded her for us (nice people). That was hard, but I kept her tail.


                    I am always with my animals when they are put down, but that is my choice and it may not work for you.

                    I just put a horse down in April, and it was a fairly simple process. As we have a large farm and it is legal to bury here (even humans!), we had the hole dug ahead of time by a neighbor with a backhoe. We walked the horse to the hole and the vet sedated him about six feet away from the hole. He laid down very easily, without any struggle, and then the vet gave him 2 more shots. After he had passed, my husband put him in the bucket on our tractor and flipped him into the hole. After that, we were able to fill the hole with the loose dirt that had been dug out by the backhoe.

                    With this particular horse, I knew his euthanasia was coming for years. He had been foundered twice before we got him, and this year he showed us he was very uncomfortable and not happy. I had a good cry in the shower the morning we did it, but knew in the end it was the best thing for him. I have been with more horses than I care to count for euthanasia. Some mine, others belonging to friends because I am “that” friend who can be there when you can’t.

                    My biggest fear with this horse was how we were getting him into the hole after the euthanasia. For some reason, the thought of flipping him into the hole and possibly breaking his bones really bothered me, even though the horse had already passed. The hole was fairly deep, but neither my neighbor nor I felt safe with a ramp and the idea of walking the horse into the hole, thinking if the horse panicked he could collapse the walls and put the vet and me in a very unsafe situation. My husband was able to get under the horse pretty well with the bucket with me just having to adjust one leg. When my husband flipped him in, he landed in a sternal position, with all four legs tucked under him and his head and neck curled back to his side. He looked like he had been posed.

                    The moral of the story is you need to do what works for you. If you think it is going to be very emotionally upsetting, horses will pick that up. It will make things more difficult.
                    "You can't fix stupid"- Ron White


                      I am sorry.

                      Even when they aren't your " heart" horse you realize they mean more to you ( then you were aware of) when it is their time to go. You put a lot of time and care into this guy and I would be surprised if it wasn't painful.

                      I have never had the means to bury, so we use a renderer. I always want to be there for the end and it just helps with closure for me.


                        Aghhhhhhh! It's all the worst part of owning an animal. Here we still bury onsite. I have been with all mine when they've died. For me, the hours leading up to the moment are the most heart wrenching. As they pass, I make sure I'm there, stroking, breathing, speaking to them. Helping this old guy along is the best, most dignified thing you can do for him. But it's awful. I'm sorry. Hugs to you.


                          I scheduled mine for the first call of the day. This means less likely to have to wait, time to have it done before the deadstock truck arrives even if there's a delay with the vet, and the vet gets to go help many other animals before the end of their day.

                          Both times I have had two horses. The first time the other horse followed us to the barn and I let him come in. This was a mistake as I was so upset afterwards when I had. to put him back out that he was a bit freaked out for several days. I didn't go near my other horse the next time.

                          The second time the vet was delayed by an emergency. I had taken my horse out to graze in the hayfield and the delay just meant we stayed out there longer and I had time to wander through memories of our years together.

                          Both times I stayed right through the process, kneeling on the neck once down, and holding a hand over the nostril so he'd know I was there. Neither of mine were sedated first. I took their halters off.

                          The first time my vet advised me in advance that I didn't want to be there when the deadstock truck arrived. I took his advice and left both times. It cost a couple of hundred, but a backhoe to dig a hole would cost even more here. I didn't fret over deadstock - the spirit that was my horse was gone.

                          I asked what the cost would be when I made the appointment and handed the vet an envelope with cash as I told him I did not want to see a bill/receipt for this. I left cash for the deadstock truck as well (with the BO).

                          I couldn't bring myself to cut their tails before either time. I cut a lock of mane before the first one, and the tail after with the second. I wish I'd got the first one's tail afterwards. If you can't face that yourself, ask someone to cut the tail or get a shoe - whatever you want- for you.

                          I didn't do anything special for the last day. Mine were scheduled several weeks in advance and I made sure they got the lion's share of my time and attention each day for the last couple of weeks. I did things with them that they enjoyed. I took a lot of photos, and shot silly video of the second - drinking, grazing, walking into the field.

                          Even if they're not our heart horse we still love them and letting them go still hurts. (((hugs)))


                            I strongly agree with talking to the vet about what to expect before the appointment.
                            I stayed with my mare- she got a dose of Ace from the BO when she had her breakfast, then I took her out to the hay field for lots of loving and treats until the vet came. She was calm and a bit sleepy even before the sedation, went down easily and passed quickly with second injection. It was important for me to be with her, but agree that it may not be easy. I did not stay for the dead stock truck, I had said my goodbye.


                              I gave my boy as many peppermints as his cheeks could hold and calmly talked to him to the end. This horse has been with you a long time and will feel comfort if you stay and stroke his head.
                              "Punch him in the wiener. Then leave." AffirmedHope


                                Original Poster

                                Thanks everyone. I feel that I want to be there with Stoli through the end. I think it means a lot to be there for that final breath. And for them to hear your voice. Think I am prepared to see him drop (I was a biology major if that helps any). A complication is that Stoli is VERY attached to Angel. He will call for her if they are separated. I don't want to have the end be traumatic for Stoli. So I may have someone hold Angel nearby when it happens (with a hay bag to distract her) Plus I feel she needs to know he is gone. With my cats, it was easier. When they were put down each was put in a box and I buried them the next day. I was kind of nice to be able to see them and pet them before the final good bye. Seemed like they were napping. When I buried Essie (my momma cat, I play Cat Steven's music). Anyway I will talk to the vet to know what to expect. I don't want Stoli lying around because we still have flies and that would just be gross. I am spending our last days saying good bye. I let very dear friend Vicki know (the one who owned him before I got him). She reminded me that Stoli had it pretty good these last few years being able to have more room to roam and hang out with his girlfriend Angel. She may come out here to see him off, a 170 mile drive for her. I'm very lucky that I have many good friends who are animal lovers and have been very supportive. I also appreciate the support of all of you on COTH. Stoli is a thoroughbred but has a mane that is so thick that the upper part of it falls on both sides of his neck. And he is a mahogany bay with a big white star. He's a handsome devil.
                                Last edited by Mukluk; Sep. 12, 2020, 01:43 AM.


                                  Original Poster

                                  He's going to get a bath so he is all handsome (will be in the mid 80's this week). Going to save some mane for me, Vicki, and my boyfriend (who loves this horse). I am also going to save some of his tail. He has the cutest ears mahogany edged in black. But of course he's keeping his ears!!!! I'm going to miss the old boy but it's his time.


                                    Original Poster

                                    A Stoli Story.
                                    Several years ago I was attempting to do dressage with Angel and working with a local trainer. Angel was doing OK (definitely not a dressage horse) in part because she constantly sticks her tongue out. But making reasonable progress all things considered. We were just going to do training level. Anyway she was "on and off" lame the week before the show but seemed good on Friday. My mom had driven up on Saturday to watch the show which was going to be on Sunday. So I was spending most of my time with my mom. I went out to check on Angel and she was totally lame!!! I got on Stoli (who had just been sitting around not being ridden and he was able to walk, trot, canter both directions just fine). So I called my trainer who was also involved with organization of the show and asked if I could enter Stoli instead. She agreed to this. So it was Stoli who got a bath on Saturday and more cleaning up on Sunday. I put him in the horse trailer and he was just fine.... until he realized that Angel was not coming along!!! Then he started pitching a major fit. Well we drove off with him whinnying and stomping and drove the six miles to the venue. Normally I leave Angel on the trailer and go sign up and get my number and then unload her. Well Stoli was continuing to have a fit. I thought he was going to kick the trailer apart. My mother who was 80 something and not horsey was my only assistant. So I unloaded Stoli led him over to a big long steel tie rail put him on one side, wrapped the rope around once and put my mom on the other side to hold the rope- "Do not under any circumstances move to Stoli's side." He would have walked all over her. During the short time I was getting my number, Stoli was neighing non-stop, carrying on, and digging a hole to China. He was creating quite a commotion and folks were wondering what the hell was going on. Took him back to the trailer to groom him and saddle up. Still neighing and acting ridiculous. Got him warmed up and he was starting to settle down (He was probably starting to realize that girlfriend wasn't going to show up). Well we were about ready to do our test. Stoli trotted into the ring and I think he knew he was the center of attention and liked it- kind of puffed up and acted important. Well considering we had zero practice, he didn't do too badly. So I was proud of him. However he was very happy at the end of the day to go home and be with lovely girlfriend Angel. The end


                                      What a great story! All I can say is I'm sure every one of us has been there at some point in time with a dear equine .

                                      May you and Stoli have your very best final day ever together, snuggling and hanging out and reminiscing about the good times .
                                      One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
                                      William Shakespeare


                                        Original Poster

                                        When I lived on the Central Coast Vicki and I would ride at the beach every so often. Riding at the beach, especially letting Angel and Stoli gallop down the beach together was such a wonderful memory. Is there anything a thoroughbred likes better than to run? We also did several trips horse camping in the high Sierras. What fun we had!

                                        Stoli was also head shy, I think he had been abused in the past. It took the longest time for him to let me kiss his soft little nose (has a cute snip on it). I guess I didn't realize how much I really love this horse (that i never really wanted). I'll miss him.
                                        Last edited by Mukluk; Sep. 12, 2020, 03:09 PM.