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Elderly Owner/Horse=Euthanasia Debate with BO

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  • #41
    [QUOTE=spurgirl;4478830]OK, To clarify a few things/QUOTE]

    Thanks for adding more info. Glad to know that there isn't anything odd going on. You just never know.

    I know no one wants to be the bad guy - and I know that these decisions can be hard on families. The attorney in fact may feel horrible about putting mom's old horse down - knowing that mom isn't far behind - it's just really emotional and draining and guilt ridden.

    I think having a vet's evaluation is going to give the atty in fact the objective, realistic advice that they need to make the decision. (Which appears to be a perfectly reasonable one).

    What you might suggest is that the tack be given to a local horse rescue or therapeutic riding school - where it can be used to bring happiness to another horse and rider - just like the happiness the mother experienced with horses.

    Softening the blow of a difficult decision. The patient may not be able to understand what has happened, but the horse is in no danger or pain, the mother is not at risk, and the family can bring happiness to others.

    Full circle.
    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
    -Rudyard Kipling


    • Original Poster

      I talked to one of the children this afternoon. They are probably going to have an evaluation done soon, especially to see how arthritic he is. Winters here are not severe snow-wise, but we are near the coast, and the dampness is horrible when you have arthritis (I know, I have it)....I offered trailering, and a dignified burial on my farm, if the BO refuses to allow it there. I also requested any pictures they may have, as my daughter could probably make up a nice scrapbook for owner (we did one for the 50+ year 4H club they ran). I know she looks at that often, even though she can't remember the names and places anymore....Thanks to those who mentioned some type of memory book.

      I told them I would Ebay the tack if they would like, or try to sell it locally... I didn't think of donating to a theraputic facility, but that's a wonderful idea. I know the saddle was a nice deep seated Stubben of some age, so it would be super comfy for those with special needs. There is a reputable place near here, and if permission is granted, I'll do that.

      It's all so sad....Just seven years ago this woman, her twin sister, and their steeds would do trail rides, hunter paces-miles and miles long. The sis and her horse have passed, as has the husband. Add her acute memory loss, and all the infirmities...it's so hard to remember the wonderful times, when harsh reality has invaded so cruelly.

      Thanks again for all the ideas and kind thoughts.


      • #43
        She is so fortunate to have you on her side, looking out on her behalf and for her beloved horse. Good luck with getting her horse checked out and something decided.


        • #44
          Originally posted by AiryFairy View Post
          There's dignity, which is likely already gone, and there is compassion to cushion the indignities of Alzheimer's to avoid unnecessary distress. A white lie, or a more palatable story that they won't remember long term anyway but will react less stressfully to will do no harm nor will it take away any dignity. There is something to be said for making a bad situation as easy as possible to spare the woman any painful news.

          And yes, I have been there. When my grandmother repeatedly asked when her husband was coming home in the weeks after he died, we finally stopped telling her that he had died when she reacted each time (several times an hour) like it was the first time she'd heard it and was nearly hysterical. We then said "he's coming in a little while", to which her reaction was "ok", and that was it. She still asked ten times a day, it was just a less stressful answer to which she didn't react violently, it was much easier on her.
          I agree with you 100%- a white lie, a palatable story is kind. Where I was going (and dropped the ball) is that we never know exactly if *that moment* we tell a bold face lie is the one moment in that day when the affected person is lucid. This is true during early to mid-level dementia. Unfortunately as many of us have already experienced, there can come a time when nothing is comprehended. From the OP's observations I did not sense that the infirm woman being discussed was at end phase dementia.

          One thing is for sure, this post is overflowing with compassion and concern isnt' it?? Good horse folks are one of kind.


          • #45
            Originally posted by BabyGreen View Post
            Unfortunately, I've seen situations where families of elderly people try to maximize the estate by talking/strong-arming parents into selling assests or getting rid of expenses. Unless the horse is really at the end of its life, I'd like to see it stay where it is. Maybe the elderly mother should have a court-appointed guardian to look after herinterests. Board for a horse is nothing compared to nursing home care. The children should have enough respect for the parent to agree to this.
            I haven't finished this thread yet but wholeheartedly agree - it's very sad what people do to thier elderly relatives to slow the drain on the estate down.

            If this woman is of the means then the horse should stay right where it is on the off chance that her owner gets that one last opportunity to see him and perhaps sit on him. Unless I misread, it sounds like she did this not too long ago. How could relatives break this woman's heart unnecessarily because it doesn't make financial sense for them? She might have one clear headed day where she is able to go enjoy her boy again. She has been with him longer than many people are ever married. How could anyone take that away from her?

            It sounds like she is declining but is still able to go to church and be active on some level. why not make sure her old buddy is there for her to visit as it doesn't sound like she will be able to do so for much longer anyway.

            I would take him in as a buddy for my filly for the food/vet/trims and burying him elsewhere when the time is necessary. My barn is probably not suitable though, two stall used as a run in, cold winters...


            • #46
              Apparently, this horse isn't doing well. An outside source needs to be brought in to evaluate the horse. An unbiased, third opinion would be a great idea. Explain the situation and be honest.

              A little white lie won't hurt her in her situation. It would be the kindest thing to be done.

              As far as the horse is concerned, the right thing will be done. Putting them down a day too soon is far kinder than a day to late. Plan a nice quiet day and put him at ease.

              Put the needs of the horse first, and the right thing will be done!

              How kind of you for keeping the woman, family, BO, and the horse in mind. Your are far kinder than many!
              Life is too short to argue with a mare! Just don't engage! It is much easier that way!

              Have fun, be safe, and let the mare think it is her idea!


              • #47
                I'm really not sure how anyone can give advice on what to do for the best with this horse when the OP hasn't seen it for a year and none of us have seen it. Maybe the horse is doing just fine for an oldie? I have horses here who are much older than this old boy and they tick along quite happily with life. Most of them have barely any teeth but I feed them correctly and they keep their weight nice and stable.

                As for people not taking old horses. Really that is a bit of a blanket statement, some people do. I did last year when I took an old boy in his 30's. He's still going strong and I still take him out for rides. He's never been a ride for novices by all accounts and he still isn't suitable for them but I enjoy riding him and he loves to go out. He only has 4 working teeth left so I feed him accordingly and he looks lovely.

                Now as to the old lady - well who knows what is best here BUT there does seem to be questions about finances, about whether the horse can survive a mild but wet winter, and whether the owner may injure herself when she rides this horse. So presumably she does still ride the horse? She obviously still knows she has a horse then? In which case, no I don't think I could ever do anything without talking to the lady. I feel that would be dreadfully wrong, regardless of her having Alzheimers, she does have the right to know what is being planned for her dear old horse. Perhaps she is lucid enough to make whatever decision is best for the horse?

                I don't know, I just think there are way too many ifs and buts here to say categorically what is the best way to deal with this situation. The vets report (providing they are a well respected, unbiased vet) is one that needs to be done. If he says horse is better off being put down then I guess that is what needs to be done. As to how to tell the old lady, if she is to be told at all, well I don't know what's best, I just know that if she were my mother I simply could not deceive and lie to her about this one thing before it has even happened. I get what people are saying about once something/someone has gone and maybe telling a little white lie, but I'm not sure I could do it.


                • #48
                  AnnaCrew, you are brilliant! I am sorry to read that your MIL is in such a bad way, but that is so kind of you and Peter to do what you've done for her. Your insight on this other situation is very helpful, since you have experience in this very issue.
                  Last edited by sdlbredfan; Nov. 2, 2009, 11:52 PM. Reason: fix typo and remove extra word
                  RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


                  • #49
                    Originally posted by Tif_Ann View Post
                    Understand I'm biased going into this ... we have a horse that is a result of a situation like that. Shamall is a 29 yr old Egyptian Arabian that came to my family last year. He is not "ours" ... his human is without a doubt the man who had him since he was a baby. His human is the father of one of my parents' friends. About two years ago the son approached my parents because his father has Parkinson's and was looking for somewhere for Shamall to go as he faced his declining health and inability to care for him anymore. My mother went down to meet them - but turned out to be an interview on if SHE was good enough for Shamall!! All parties agreed but it was another several months before mom finally got the call to come get Shamall.

                    The pictures of the first interview are heartbreaking. Shamall and his human share a huge bond, and the sadness that comes out of the pictures just hurts. But Shamall has a home and that's what the owner knew had to happen. Just a couple months ago they were able to spend some time together at an event we all go to. You may think that horses don't have feelings or care about people, but Shamall perked up like he hasn't in a long time when he saw his man, and was very proud to show off that he can still be ridden and is beautiful. He was a very, very happy horse. Then ... after his man left ... he was very, very grumpy. Kicking out at other horses, throwing hsi bucket around his stall, etc ... not normal behaviours for him. I may anthropomorphize too much, but it seemed obvious to everyone that he was upset and confused about where his man went.

                    That in mind - why has no one talked to the elderly owner about her own horse? She's been a horse person for 80+ years. I'm sure she's had to make tough decisions before. "Protecting" her by lying to her just doesn't seem right, now, does it? I'd talk to her, she may be willing to let him go if she's a horse person herself ... even though it's hard. It's not right for anyone else to make that decision for her.

                    Is there an option of looking into a retirement farm at a reduced rate, or like Foxtrot mentioned - can you or someone you know take him in at a reduced board and get the tack as partial payment? I see you said you don't have a stall available - do you know anyone, even people with small backyard farms, who could take him in? You'd be surprised, there are many people like my mom in there, willing to take in a horse and provide a good home until it's time to say goodbye.

                    As others have said - it sounds like a good argument can be made for euthanization in this case. But I guess I don't understand why lying to the elderly owner is the wise choice ... instead of talking to her. She may have short term memory loss - but does she completely forget she owns a horse?
                    You are so right. Talk to the owner,even if she has memory issues. Let her say what she wants. My father had Alzheimers though most of the time he was fine. He got his kids confused but he didnt get the horse stuff wrong one bit. I tested him on things that he had told me, and his answers were the same as they had always been. He couldn't name my sister, one evening after having an exhausting day, but he looked at her, and said " I know you. You rode the nice little saddle mare hell for leather across the back yard and would holler whoa when you got to the fence! That was such a nice little mare." It broke my sisters heart that Daddy remembered the horse, but not her name. The horse and my sister had the same name.

                    Talk to the owner-do it when she is well rested and feeling good. Take someone with you that is in a position to make the owners wishes happen. Take her out to the barn and take lots of pictures.

                    She may not have changed the stars from their courses, but she loved a good man, and she rode good horses….author unknown


                    • #50
                      How sad for everyone involved...

                      As a BO, I 'adopted' one of my boarder horses who was in a similar situation. I knew the family would not do right by him. I kept him for a short time, then quietly had him put down as he was not a horse who could be re-homed. It was hard to bear this cost, but worth every penny to know that he was treated with dignity, the way his original owner would have wanted.