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Spin off from losing a horse. Burial on property vs Haul Off Remains.

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    I just put my long retired gelding down. Vet arranged it so the "disposal" man would be there at the same time. He just had a truck and stock trailer. I assume there was a winch or something in it, but he waited until I left to get started, so I have no idea. The vet put the horse down in a nice grassy spot that the trailer could reach. It was tactfully done. I don't know if they are bothering to render horses here anymore, but I prefer not to think about the alternatives.
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


      When it came time to put my beloved Morgan down, he was going to be buried in an area on the ample and beautiful grounds of my boarding stable. Other horses and even the ashes of an elderly boarder who just wanted to rest there with his horse were also buried there.

      I was disturbed by the thought that the euthanizing chemicals might enter the water table but there were no other options.

      Grief meant I couldn't stay for the actual euthanization but rather relied on a trusted vet and vet assistant to take care of things in competent manner.

      I paid $250 or so for a hole to be dug in the horse cemetery area. The Barn Owner buried him. I find it comforting to visit the site.

      I made a bronze sculpture of his head to commemorate him.


        Originally posted by Abbie.S View Post
        Keep in mind that if you do decide to have them hauled away to be composted or cremated...they have to get there somehow. IME, this usually means they get loaded onto a flatbed trailer after they are deceased, which still requires a large tractor and chains to be able to lift them off the ground. If you don't have access to this on your farm, you'll have to hire to have it done.
        I had 2 horses hauled away and watched 2 others, none on a flatbed. All used a winch to get the body in the trailer. (Were you assuming people would have their own flatbed to haul away with? I can't imagine NOT having to hire someone for this job.)

        @OP My first horse was cremated. By the time his ashes were being sent to me, I realized I didn't really want them. I still have them though, and they are neat to look at and wonder what the different shapes came from. My second horse was hauled away and I don't regret not having ashes nor burying.
        That's fine, many of us have slid down this slippery slope and became very happy (and broke) doing it. We may not have a retirement, but we have memories ...


          When we came home one evening and our old gelding was in obvious, acute distress, my husband ran for the gun while I cradled the horse's head in my arms. I stood and walked away for the shot to be made. It was the swiftest, most compassionate thing to do at the time. It is also among the kindest things my husband has ever done for me.

          The following morning an acquaintance came over with a tractor, dug the hole and covered the old horse. I feel very, very lucky to have had this happen in the sequence and circumstances it did - finding the horse before darkness set in, my husband doing what needed to be done, the acquaintance being available and willing with the machinery, and for the land on which we were able to bury the horse.

          This thread shows how many possibilities exist for the decent end of a horse's life. There's no right or best way. Yours will always reside in your heart, really. I know mine does.


            As beowulf said, there are cremation options that cost about as much as the burial option.

            I did not have a permanent farm for the remains, and couldn't stand that thought of even the shell being discarded in a landfill, or something similar.

            Receiving just enough ashes for a box about the size of a shoebox, along with some tail hair, was enough for my (admittedly irrational) emotional reaction. The horse was cremated along with other horses, so the box is largely symbolic, it isn't necessarily him. Don't care, only care that he isn't rotting in a landfill, even though I know that logically it doesn't matter. It was about $325 all in, including transporting the body after euthanasia to the crematorium. I actually didn't care about the box, either, but that's how they fulfill the order. (I also have a small ceramic urn with the ashes of a dearly beloved cat, from many years before the horse.)

            The most important question is if it is possible and what it costs to transport the remains to the nearest cremation facility that handles horses. If there is a hauler who will go that far, and what do they charge. In my case the hauler picked up in a 50 mile radius. I took the horse to the vet clinic where he would be put down, and it was just inside that line.

            The most expensive cremation option is to have your horse cremated separately and receive a large drum of all of his/her ashes. Large, and heavy, and you have to figure out how you will pick it up at the cremation facility and take it - wherever. At least with the cremation facility I used. Ironically nothing about that interested me.


              Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post

              The most expensive cremation option is to have your horse cremated separately and receive a large drum of all of his/her ashes. Large, and heavy, and you have to figure out how you will pick it up at the cremation facility and take it - wherever. At least with the cremation facility I used. Ironically nothing about that interested me.
              I had my horse cremated last year. They performed an individual whole horse cremation. I was able to pick up all of his cremains in my car. They placed some in an urn and the remainder in a box which, while extremely heavy, fit in the trunk of my car with no issues. I don’t recall the exact cost as I didn’t really care at the moment, but it was several thousand dollars. He was 16.3 and was euthanized urgently due to colic, but I’d already made a plan if anything happened and knew I couldn’t let him leave on a flatbed to go God knows where. Now he’s home with me and it brings me peace.

              One thing to note is that this facility created a special sled to move the horse so it doesn’t get dragged into the truck. They handled him with such dignity - like he was their own. They wrapped him up in shipping blankets and it was really amazing how kind the man was to my sweet boy.

              I’m sure to some this is probably over the top, but I really wanted to have him home with me and have never regretted the decision, despite the cost. Right now the box is in my “ horse room” and the plan is to take him to all the places he never got to visit, and bury the rest when I finally get a farm. 😉

              I’m sorry you had to go through this, too. No matter the direction, it’s never easy.


                Originally posted by cutter99 View Post

                At the time we lived on a dairy farm, and had a large composting area for dead stock. The animal you are composting is placed on a bed of manure and used shavings, then covered with the manure and shavings as well. You need to have the right combination of materials in order to get the compost pile to heat up properly. With larger animals, the composting process can take anywhere from 4 months on. Our pile was turned after so many months to reheat the pile and allow of other animals to be added. After the appropriate amount of time needed to safely compost, the pile was loaded out and spread over fields as fertilizer.

                It is a very viable method for disposal if burial is not an option due to water issues.
                Thank you and trubandloki for the info! I have done the haul away thing a few times and done the country burial.
                Humans dont mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. Sebastian Junger


                  Originally posted by cutter99 View Post

                  At the time we lived on a dairy farm, and had a large composting area for dead stock. The animal you are composting is placed on a bed of manure and used shavings, then covered with the manure and shavings as well. You need to have the right combination of materials in order to get the compost pile to heat up properly. With larger animals, the composting process can take anywhere from 4 months on. Our pile was turned after so many months to reheat the pile and allow of other animals to be added. After the appropriate amount of time needed to safely compost, the pile was loaded out and spread over fields as fertilizer.

                  It is a very viable method for disposal if burial is not an option due to water issues.
                  I like the idea of this. Burial is ok, too, and the composting option seems to give direction and move things along.

                  The idea of spreading ashes also appeals in the same way. I suppose rendering is also in that mix. The creature returns to the earth and the cycle of life.

                  IMO burial, composting and spreading ashes have far more purpose than just dumping the body in a pit with an untreated moldering body pile, where it is unlikely anything will ever grow or be nice again. I find the idea of the landfill-style pit of dead animals, just piled in on top of each other, appalling for some reason. In this area, that is where much dead livestock ends up. Rationally it doesn't matter, I suppose, but still.

                  If a wild horse dies, nature takes care of returning the remains to the cycle of life, and the composting of whatever is left. We can work out a way to get closer to that.


                    One thing I've learned is that owners need to make some decisions long before there is need. Find out what is possible and available. Get some phone numbers and know generally how things will go.

                    Plan well ahead because if your horse dies unexpectedly, and you want something specific, it may prove hard to find and organize on a moment's notice. Especially if you are a boarder and don't have your own farm. Depending on where death occurs (at the vet's, in a board barn, etc.), it may be imperative to move the body within hours.

                    Once the euthanasia decision had been for my horse, I ended up pushing the date back to give me more time to find the resources I wanted for the aftermath. I don't know what would have happened if he had died suddenly, because it took about a week to put all the pieces together for what I wanted.

                    If you want something like cremation or other services, many of the facilities and individuals needed may be hard to find because they don't advertise broadly, or sometimes even at all. For me it was a word-of-mouth search to put it all together. A pet cremation facility that didn't do livestock recommended a livestock place that was in another county. The horse cremation facility recommended a hauler, who didn't cover my area, and recommended another hauler. The vet clinic that did the euthanasia made some recommendations and were part of the body pick-up arrangements. There was a lot of leaving messages and sending emails and waiting for replies. Calling back and forth to find out if this plan would work, or that plan would work. Etc. It took almost a week to put together a fairly basic equine cremation.

                    And the board barn made it clear that if the euthanasia took place on their property, the hauler *must* be there to remove the body immediately, in consideration of their other boarders.They really didn't have a spot that was completely private from the other boarders. Even if the body were covered, they did *not* want a dead horse on the property, waiting for pick-up. Some people (and children) are terribly upset by the idea, even if others are not so concerned. I would have preferred to let him go without moving him from his own pasture, but it became clear that the circumstances made that not an option. Fortunately the vet clinic was cooperative with doing everything there, as of course they do have a dead horse to deal with from time to time.


                      I dont blame the boarding barn a bit for wanting the hauler there for a scheduled euth. Bad enough to get stuck with a sick horse the owner can't or wont deal with...
                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                        I’ve done both. Having them buried down the back is lovely as they have trees planted over their graves as a reminder.

                        But there’s been a few times that a backhoe isn’t available for a few days and I’ve used a pick up service.

                        I always do a keepsake. Usually some tail before they’re buried or taken away. Neither way is easier or better. It just all depends on what is available at the time.
                        Not my circus, not my monkeys!


                          Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post
                          One thing I've learned is that owners need to make some decisions long before there is need. Find out what is possible and available. Get some phone numbers and know generally how things will go.
                          I agree with this.
                          Except one needs a back-up plan too.
                          Because like all things horse, the horse does not always cooperate with your first plan.

                          I had always planned to compost my aged horse when he passed. I assumed (laugh) that one of his soundness issues would eventually cause me to have to pick a day and time and put him down, which would allow me to get all the proper materials in place to compost him. I really wanted to compost him.
                          He clearly did not like my plans. Horrible colic, not surgery candidate meant euthanasia in the middle of the night. No materials for a good compost easily available the next day meant we found someone (and paid them well) to bury him.

                          I think most large animal vets have the information an owner needs on what the disposal options are for their area. So if you (general) are looking to know what you can do where you live your vet might be a good place to start asking. I know the equine vet I use has this information.


                            When our 30 year old had a pasture accident, he was still ambulant, so we hauled him to the vet clinic for diagnosis and treatment, as per the vet advice.
                            Once there, he had injured his knee beyond help, so they euthanized him.
                            The vet told us, dead horses were taken to the landfill, that had a space reserved to bury horses.
                            If someone goes that route, ask, they may have a place they take care of horses at your landfill.


                              Original Poster

                              Thanks all. Well it's been a week now since Stoli left this world. He was very old and it was his time to go. It was difficult to have such a short time frame (even though it was longer than many folks have). The vet and I agreed that Stoli should be put down on Friday Sept 11 and the only time that all of our schedules (me, vet, and haul off lady) coordinated was last Thursday, the 17th. If there were more time, I think I would have had him buried on my property but with having to work and so forth, I did not have time to figure out where he could be buried without interfering with various underground infrastructure such as leech (leach?) lines. gas lines etc. And did not have time or inclination to call around to compare various prices/schedules of backhoe folks. So to reduce my level of stress and hassle, I had him hauled off. Stoli had a good last day and got to have as many apples and carrots as he could eat. He got to hang out with his beloved girlfriend Angel. He got a bath and then I let him roll (with a little effort but he did it). I had a few friends with us for his last few hours (his prior owner, my good friends who are a couple (Stoli always preferred men and he just loved Harold). My boyfriend was there and even though he hadn't known Stoli that long, he had become quite attached from him. I braided some sections of Stoli's mane which were cut off after he died. Even though he was a Thoroughbred, he had a "Fabio" mane that was so thick that parts of it fell on both sides of his neck. I braided a small tail section. Everyone waited out of sight while I was with Stoli for his final moments. I wanted to be there for his death and was glad that I was- his final moment on this earth. The vet said he would be dead before he hit the ground and he was. We had a little time with him before he was hauled off. My boyfriend picked some flowers and put them on Stoli, very sweet. I brought Angel (my other horse) up to see him. At first she thought he was just lying down and then when she realized he was dead. Jumped back about two feet. Then she seemed a little nervous and on edge. She looked stood by him and then sniffed at him looked up again and sniffed at him several times. Then she started grazing. I brought her back to her corral and she neighed for him intermittently for about an hour. Those two had been together for 12 years but she has been adjusting pretty well. I didn't think I wanted to see the part when Stoli was loaded up onto the flat bed, but ended up watching from inside the house and then went outside- I was OK with it. When he was in the flat bed the way his legs ended up made him look like he was running. I gave him one last kiss and he was off. He was buried at the land fill. But his spirit is in heaven- I like to think- and he will always be in my heart.


                                So sorry for your loss, but you gave Stoli dignity and grace in his passing.

                                I do enjoy believing that when we look up at the night sky, that stars are the horses that we have lost. Stoli has a star, too.


                                  I just 3 days ago dealt with this very same thing... We fortunately have the land to bury them on. But I was overwhelmed with the details of organizing it myself. But I was able to time the vet visit and the farmer/excavator within in a few hours of each other. I was present for the actual euthanasia, but hubby met the burial crew. I am glad that he is in a dignified grave (But part of me does realize that it is just a shell) The only other option ( We don't even have a rendering service ) Is to haul them to the land fill, where they are just dumped with all of the other garbage! i know the horse doesn't care...!! But I just didn't feel like that was dignified end for a loving companion who gave me the best of his years!


                                    Original Poster

                                    And of course Trigger was stuffed.


                                      Original Poster

                                      Well I have Stoli's beautiful black tail in a braid- he was a Mahogany Bay. I was thinking of getting a nice piece of silver and making cap for the end and then putting it in a shadow box with a picture or pictures. He was barefoot in the end so I don't have any shoes. I did look up at the sky tonight and think of my little herd in heaven. Stoli and my first horse Shadow (I don't know when he died but I know he would be long dead by now). Then I have bunch of kitties, the family dogs, my dad, my best friend. Other people I have known and loved. Maybe someday we will all be together again.


                                        Mukluk Amen to the afterlife reunion.
                                        Every name in my sig is waiting, along with cats, dogs & family.

                                        Who said "If horses don't go to heaven, I want to go where they are"?

                                        Sounds like you gave Stoli the gift of a peaceful passing.
                                        Would that I could guarantee the same for myself!

                                        For his tail - have you considered making it into a fly whisk?
                                        I regret not dong this for any of mine, but expediency....
                                        *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                                        Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                                        Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                                        Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015