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The "forever" home- a fairy tale for most horses?

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  • The "forever" home- a fairy tale for most horses?

    I live in an area where there are TONS of horses that people just cant afford. A lot of these horses have unsoundnesses that make them or will soon make them unsuitable for most normal use.

    How realistic is it for people to think someone will take their unsound horse and give it a "forever" home? Especially in my area, where almost nobody keeps them at home or has the space to turn them out until their natural lives are over.

    I was in the market for a "feed lease" horse (and will be again quite soon), and it seems insane how many old, lame horses there are around here. I made a comment to a friend that the best thing to do for these horses would be to put them to sleep and she seemed horrified. "But, he's fine for walking, and he looks so healthy, that'd be murder, etc"

    There are so many FREE, SOUND horses. There are so many horses every day adding to the list of FREE, UNSOUND horses. It doesnt make sense to think there are a ton of places for pasture sound horses to live our their days around here.

    I can't be the only one that thinks that the bar has to be raising for what is acceptable to euth a horse for, and what isn't.


    ETA- I am actually one of those people who is looking for a horse who is w/t trail riding sound... but I dont know how many else are out there like me, and the only reason I can do it is bc I'm *not* boarding. Or else I'd have a really hard time taking someone's partially sound horse and promising I'd be able to cover board on it forever... bc if shit hits the fan, I know I'd never be able to sell it or re-home it.
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  • #2
    If life came with a warranty then a "forever home" might be realistic.

    It doesn't and that means nothing is forever except death.

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

    Comment


    • #3
      "Forever homes" are extremely rare with horses IME. Probably more common where I live now than anywhere else, because boarding prices are absurdly low and you can also just stick a horse in your backyard pretty much anywhere. Even so, they're not that common unless people have pasture so don't have to feed the whole year (desert, so not too much of that and those who do have it tend to be wealthier anyway). Horses just aren't like dogs and cats, who can be kept very cheaply (even if ideal care is pretty expensive, but worst case scenario a bag of Ol' Roy and shots once a year are pretty affordable). I think it's actually rather unfair of sellers to expect forever homes. For horses I love, I do put in a right of first refusal, but I don't expect people to keep them forever.

      I do agree that euthanasia should be more socially acceptable. I think it would save a lot of suffering. Personally, I do have at least one horse I would euth before selling, because he is only pasture sound and has Cushing's and is a difficult horse to handle (and gets super stressed unless managed a certain way) and is in his mid- to late 20s. I feel he's had a good life and it would be too stressful on him and too chancy to rehome him, so if tomorrow I couldn't keep him I'd put him down (unless by some miracle the perfect home fell into my lap, but I'm not kidding myself about the chances of that ). I feel like any horse that is only pasture sound is kind of automatically an acceptable euthanasia candidate.

      However, it does upset me on the rare occasions I've seen people with mostly sound, useful horses (even aged ones) who they want to put down rather than even trying to find them a new home. If you try but can't find one and you can't afford the horse anymore, then fine. I'd rather see them euth'd than run through a low-end auction and wind up headed to Mexico or left to starve in the backyard. But I have occasionally (like twice) seen people euth rather than even trying to find another home even though the horse could have been useful, and that does bother me. It smacks of the hoarder "no one can care for this horse like I can" mentality. I mean, at least put the word out to your friends or whatever. In both cases I was shoeing for the owner, one didn't even tell me until I came out to shoe and the horse was missing, the other told me two weeks before and I actually knew someone who might be a good fit and was looking, and they wouldn't even consider it. That bothered me.
      exploring the relationship between horse and human

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      • #4
        I, personally, would never rehome a pasture sound horse. The risk of an unsound "useless" horse winding up in a very bad situation is just too great, IMO.

        If I were to ever be in a situation where I could not keep my unsound horse, I would euthanise her.

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        • #5
          I was talking to my SO the other day about selling my new horse in the next few years. He wondered why I would say such a thing about the nice young horse I have, and that's because I never want to have another nice old horse. I have one of those, too. When I bought him at 15 I thought that when I was done riding him, with his temperament, he could easily become a school horse at the local barn where I could keep an eye on him and would only be supporting a few years of his retirement, Instead, he was only rideable for 18 months, and I have been supporting him for 4 years. He is 21 now and healthy as a, well, horse, just unsound at trot and up, and really trippy, so not even sound for trail. So I have been thinking on where to set the bar, as you say. When he gets to the point where he is lame at the walk, I plan on making the big decision then. I have seen too many crippled horses kept alive in their suffering because the owner couldn't face facts. And these are horses that live in retirement; their owners do not see them limping around day after day.

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          • #6
            I have to agree with you CosMonster -- at least try. I took an unsound horse as a pasture pet five years ago. I love this horse, and he has been a blessing to me and my family for nearly every single day of those five years. He is huge, he eats a lot, and he has occasionally run up a sizeable vet bill. I am not wealthy, but I do okay, and I can afford him. My deal was, if he never carried a rider again, or took another canter step, he was fine with me. Like I said, I love the big goof and my life is better for having him here.

            However -- and here is the surprise ending. After five years of rest, he has come sound. He was a third-level dressage horse, and now we are having all kinds of fun with him. I am learning dressage, and hope to be showing him next year.

            But, even without that fairy tale ending, Elijah has been safe here with us. And happy. He is in love with the granddaughter (he is 17 hh and 1,600 lbs!), who calls him her "cutie buddy," and his ears go FLOP when he sees her.

            I can't even imagine the idea of putting him down just because he had a bad hock. You don't throw a whole life away just because it's banged up a little!

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by King's Ransom View Post
              I have to agree with you CosMonster -- at least try. I took an unsound horse as a pasture pet five years ago. I love this horse, and he has been a blessing to me and my family for nearly every single day of those five years. He is huge, he eats a lot, and he has occasionally run up a sizeable vet bill. I am not wealthy, but I do okay, and I can afford him. My deal was, if he never carried a rider again, or took another canter step, he was fine with me. Like I said, I love the big goof and my life is better for having him here.

              However -- and here is the surprise ending. After five years of rest, he has come sound. He was a third-level dressage horse, and now we are having all kinds of fun with him. I am learning dressage, and hope to be showing him next year.

              But, even without that fairy tale ending, Elijah has been safe here with us. And happy. He is in love with the granddaughter (he is 17 hh and 1,600 lbs!), who calls him her "cutie buddy," and his ears go FLOP when he sees her.

              I can't even imagine the idea of putting him down just because he had a bad hock. You don't throw a whole life away just because it's banged up a little!
              Sounds like your guy got really lucky! If there were more like you out there, this thread probably wouldn't be necessary.

              The area I live in is heavy on the idea of everything being disposable
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              • #8
                We have a few horses as described, unsound, old etc. One is my daughter's old Maclay horse-we got him when he was 19 and he taught her so much. He stayed sound for a bout 18 months and at age 24 is not even pasture sound-his joints are fusing from all the hard work he did for his previous owners.

                He's a hard keeper, paralyzed on one side of his face, He came that way and was that was for years, can still 'busta move' if he wants to and just be a big goober. But we while we can't imagine life without him, this is his last summer.

                Our second one is a pony mare we purchased, and were lied to about her. I trusted someone and well they lied through their teeth (The Lord will find a way to repay her :-) This ancient welsh pony mare came to me underweight and full of terrible arthritis-mind you I paid for her. She is all there in her brain but her body is failing her. Get this they were RIDING her! Yup. So we've kept her going again through this spring and summer and yes she'll be put down with the old gelding this fall.

                I think honestly it's a personal decision and not up to anyone else as to when a horse should be euthanized. If I could have kept my blind no eyed Clydesdale forever I would have but his cancer spread to the bone. So we euthanized him. My mare who's "good leg" became her bad leg finally and there was no way to fix it. We gave her one last summer with babies to watch over and put her down.

                My older stallion probably should have been put down as a youngsters after a pasture accident where he broke his leg. I am thankful his owners put the effort into him (he was given to me when he was 10, he's18 now). He has given me the most amazing babies ever.

                Understand that horses are not just for riding. People have horses for a range of reasons and some of those reasons are for their psychological health. I do give horses forever homes, my broodies will always have forever homes, but I also know when it is time to make that decision to euthanize them. It's not so black and white when it comes to decisions when it involves a member of your family.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  I understand that horse aren't just for riding... But not every horse owner has the same responsible mindset. Heck, I'd say many people on COTH would (maybe not publicly) say that they weren't going to pay board on a horse they couldn't ride.
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                  • #10
                    Well, it is probably not the best thing for the horses to put them down if they truly are sound. It is best for the owners. Not saying that is wrong, it is what it is.

                    My own horses have forever homes, but I sure don't go around giving homes to other people's broken horses. Who can afford that? Cleaning up my own messes is pricey enough.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Amber_M View Post
                      I understand that horse aren't just for riding... But not every horse owner has the same responsible mindset. Heck, I'd say many people on COTH would (maybe not publicly) say that they weren't going to pay board on a horse they couldn't ride.
                      No, but especially in the case of old, unsound (or just pasture-sound) horses, I think there should be some kind of responsibility. This isn't an animal that's serviceably sound and being sold to its new job, something I have no issues with. It's an animal that will suffer if it's resold as a riding horse, that may end up requiring bute to even live out in pasture without pain.

                      If the owner can really find a free retirement home for that animal, well, lucky them and lucky horse. But there's a good reason retirement homes can charge money - there are more horses needing a place to retire to than there are people with pastures willing to take them in for free and give them good care until the end of their life.

                      Horses obviously take up more space and money for shelter than house pets, but what would we think of say dog owners if they started advertising en masse along the lines of "Fluffy is a geriatric poodle with age-related bladder control issues. I can no longer use him for agility and have a new dog. I need someone to give my beloved Fluffy a comfortable home until he passes. He is ok to go for short walks and really enjoys a scratch behind his ear."
                      Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by fordtraktor View Post
                        My own horses have forever homes, but I sure don't go around giving homes to other people's broken horses. Who can afford that? Cleaning up my own messes is pricey enough.
                        Ditto. We are fortunate in that we have land, and do our own hay. We just lost 2 oldies this year. Figured they had given us more than money could ever make up for. So as long as they were happy, they had a home. Once they weren't happy and not fixable any more, we put them down. And they still live with us :-)

                        Again, the luxury of having our own land.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          When I buy a horse, they have a forever home. I have a mare right now who is mystery lame. She is not going anywhere, and I will ship her where ever I am going when I graduate in the spring. I also have one of those horses that was going to be put down/sold to the meat man if he didn't get a home. People tried but a 9 yo 17 hand, unbroken horse is not the most popular thing in the western world. He has a forever home too. Both horses are boarded, I feel if you can afford to board a sound horse you can afford to board a lame one as well. My trainer is letting me ride a wonderful show horse b/c of my decision to keep my mare. I have friends who let me ride their horses to. I don't see what the issue is, there is more to horses than riding.

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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Another point I forgot to touch on is what about the people who are SELLIMG these types of horses?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Break-away Alter View Post
                              I was talking to my SO the other day about selling my new horse in the next few years. He wondered why I would say such a thing about the nice young horse I have, and that's because I never want to have another nice old horse.
                              Gag me.
                              "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                                If life came with a warranty then a "forever home" might be realistic.

                                It doesn't and that means nothing is forever except death.

                                G.
                                And TAXES- don't forget them. But maybe we could have fewer or lower taxes if EVERYONE, especially the uber rich, paid their fair share.

                                As for the forever home, high unemployment, a poor economy and an unfair tax burden on the middle class is making that a thing of the past for many horses- unfortunately.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by classicsporthorses View Post
                                  We have a few horses as described, unsound, old etc. One is my daughter's old Maclay horse-we got him when he was 19 and he taught her so much. He stayed sound for a bout 18 months and at age 24 is not even pasture sound-his joints are fusing from all the hard work he did for his previous owners.

                                  He's a hard keeper, paralyzed on one side of his face, He came that way and was that was for years, can still 'busta move' if he wants to and just be a big goober. But we while we can't imagine life without him, this is his last summer.

                                  Our second one is a pony mare we purchased, and were lied to about her. I trusted someone and well they lied through their teeth (The Lord will find a way to repay her :-) This ancient welsh pony mare came to me underweight and full of terrible arthritis-mind you I paid for her. She is all there in her brain but her body is failing her. Get this they were RIDING her! Yup. So we've kept her going again through this spring and summer and yes she'll be put down with the old gelding this fall.

                                  I think honestly it's a personal decision and not up to anyone else as to when a horse should be euthanized. If I could have kept my blind no eyed Clydesdale forever I would have but his cancer spread to the bone. So we euthanized him. My mare who's "good leg" became her bad leg finally and there was no way to fix it. We gave her one last summer with babies to watch over and put her down.

                                  My older stallion probably should have been put down as a youngsters after a pasture accident where he broke his leg. I am thankful his owners put the effort into him (he was given to me when he was 10, he's18 now). He has given me the most amazing babies ever.

                                  Understand that horses are not just for riding. People have horses for a range of reasons and some of those reasons are for their psychological health. I do give horses forever homes, my broodies will always have forever homes, but I also know when it is time to make that decision to euthanize them. It's not so black and white when it comes to decisions when it involves a member of your family.
                                  What an excellent post!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Unfortunately, a forever home with the best intentions goes south with job loss, divorce, death in the family - you name it. I've just seen too many bad things happen to older horses. If you can't keep your older horse, even if he is fairly sound, I think euthanization is a good decision. It's one thing if you can donate him to a therapeutic riding school or loan him to someone nearby where you can keep tabs on him. Many years ago, I boarded (temporarily) at a farm where the manager took in older horses promising to give them a good home. He'd wait about a month, then off to the auction. He realized if the former owner didn't make inquiries in about four weeks, they probably wouldn't at all and were relieved that the horse "found a good home." The guy who is the current SPCA official for our county fell for this scam. Of course, that's when slaughter prices were much higher than now, but I'm sure this kind of thing still happens a lot.

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
                                      Gag me.
                                      Why that response?

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I intend to keep my horses until they pass away of old age. I understand they may go unsound. That's ok with me -- they've already earned a retirement.

                                        For most horses? I don't know.

                                        The gap seems to be that many owners don't grasp the concept that their beloved family horse will very likely old day go unsound. Nobody thinks about that. I'm amazed how many people use a horse until he's too lame to keep riding, then expect the nearby horse shelter to happily take him. Horse shelters have just as hard a time placing lame horses as individuals do. There are pretty much no buyers seeking a lame horse (especially a harder keeper such as a TB).

                                        There are retirement farms - commercial ones and non-profits - the owner can consider. There are also full retirement programs, where the ownership is turned over to the charity (eg. Ryerss in Pennsylvania).

                                        Euthanasia is a person decision. I see nothing wrong with a horse owner considering this for a chronically lame horse they absolutely cannot afford to keep/retire. Trying to get a stranger to take the crippled horse with a Craiglist "free to good home" ad isn't always in the best interest of the horse. (Trust me, I've talked to some of these CL people who got a freebie a month ago and now realize how lame the horse really is or how nobody will take the horse off their hands).

                                        I agree euthanasia for an incurably lame horse should not be a dirty word. The hard reality is that lame horse at auction is dead anyway, but only after weeks in killpens, a horrible ride to Mexico, and an inhumane death. The lame horse in a freebie classified might find a good home; however, based on what I'm seeing. the odds are against it. This is how hoarders get animals. Or he goes to someone who rides him, even though he remains very lame. Or he goes to someone who grabbed the horse on impulse and has no clue how to afford hay this winter - and Animal Control gets involved.

                                        Here is the sad reality I see: We live in a country where adult, healthy dogs & cats, who don't need to do a job other than keep us company, are discarded and killed by the millions each year. If Americans can't keep their promise to the family dog for a mere 10 yr lifespan, what chance does a lame horse have?
                                        Veterinarians for Equine Welfare

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