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Giving up on a "acquired" horse

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  • Giving up on a "acquired" horse

    Just a general ?: if you acquire a horse, what does it take for you to say the horse is unsafe & decide to either PTS or give to a home that wont ever ride/handle/turnout with other horses/whatever the problem is?

    Do you try to rehab or not?

    ETA: Changed the title to keep daffynitions out of it.
    Last edited by JohnDeere; Dec. 27, 2009, 06:30 PM. Reason: Change title
    “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker

  • #2
    When you rescue an animal, you are offering it a chance at a better life. If the animal cannot take that chance, for whatever reason, it's your call how and when you deal with it. Sad as it is, some just cannot make it back, and then you have to do the right thing.

    I, personally, think that with an animal that has to have all of those conditions attached to keep it safe and to keep those who might handle it safe, then you are better off to let it go and PTS. Accidents happen enough on their own, and the world is too full of animals who will take the chance, and who can make it back. In letting go of one of the lost ones, you are making room to give one of the others a chance, and that is not a bad thing.

    Sometimes, it is just not meant to be, and that's ... life.
    "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

    Spay and neuter. Please.


    • #3
      If I feel that a horse has no reasonable chance at a "normal" life, I have no problem with ending its life. If a horse is not sane or sound in its environment, I have no problem with ending its life.

      Life is too short. There are too many good horses. If one can be rehabbed, then maybe, Try and give it a chance. Many things depend on the nature of the horse and the issues it has.

      Is it dangerous to itself?

      Is it a danger to others?

      Is it not safe in its environment?

      Is it dangerous to ride?

      Could it pose a danger children?

      Is it sane? Is it sound? Are you safe?

      I had a situation last April that I hated. I wished I had seen the signs earlier. It was felt by many that he was beyond repair mentally, physically, and emotionally. The decision was made to euthanize horse. I have no regrets.

      Said horse was no happy in his own skin in his pasture. He was flighty to the point of panicking at every little sound, sight, and feeling. Horse was a danger to himself and others. Yes, he was euthanized.

      Do I feel that he could have been saved? No, not while he was my responsibility. I will no hand off a dangerous critter. I can't allow it. Too many people do it.

      I think there are too many horses. Life is too short.

      Good Luck. It is a difficult decision that is not made lightly, but should be made if the case warrents it.
      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!


      • #4
        Ditto both of the above.


        • #5
          I once rode a horse from an auction that had no sense of self preservation. None. He didn't like to be ridden, and some one, at some point, had taught him that rearing meant he didn't have to work. When I rode him and he tried to go up, I got one good circle in before he went up and I wouldn't keep his front feet on the ground long enough to circle again, and driving him forward just meant he went higher, and he made it ****** clear he WOULD flip with any more pressure. I rode it out (15 minutes? 30 minutes? wasn't exactly keeping track) walked him forward about 30 feet, turned him around and walked him back the other way, dismounted, handed the reins to his owner and told her to take him out back and shoot him for the coyotes.
          My line in the sand is when the horse is flat dangerous, or miserable. If the ugly son of a gun could have been homed somewhere where for the rest of his life it would have been absolutely guaranteed he would never be ridden, he MIGHT have been worth keeping. As it was, he went to two or three trainers who sent him back and untold vet checks that couldn't find anything before he was eventually euthanized. He was miserable, and dangerous.


          • #6
            That the horse is a rescue should not matter when you evaluate it for suitability to be trained and safe.
            Once you decide the problems, no matter why, are too hard to surmont and others agree, your vet and other trainers, sometimes there are sad decisions to make.

            It is the same with dogs.
            You evaluate them and there are a few that are over the top aggressive and sure, a very tight situation, with a very experienced handler, that dog may be able to be contained so other dogs and people are safe from it, but why try to live under those conditions?

            Even with people, some just are too mean and have to be put away, for the safety of others and sometimes of themselves.

            Thankfully there are not many real rogues out there, whatever the cause.


            • #7
              It's been about 12 years since I rescued or rather purchased to rescue my Saddlebred mare from a "so called training barn" outside LA. I went to look at another horse and was taken to a dark, filthy stall in the back of the property to look at another horse for sale. Here was this skinny, scared mare hiding in the corner. I took one look offered some money and came back the next week and made arrangements to get her out. She had been pitched forked all over her body, not fed, stall not cleaned, etc. Her owners lived in France so they paid her board and the so called "trainers" took the money and didn't feed her. She is 16.2 and weighed 830 lbs. It took a long time to gain her trust and to be able to even ride her around the paddock. Eventually we made it out onto the trails but she was still spooky. If she hears anyone speaking Spanish she goes crazy (stall cleaners pitch forked her) and still will bare her teeth at some people but has NEVER hurt anyone she just learned to scare people. So many people told me to get rid of her, but she's my girl and is now 20 and almost died from a horrible infection last year. She's a tough old broad and is known at the Vet's office as the miracle horse for living when so close to death. She's the one now that will put her head in my lap when she's taking her morning nap if I sit in her stall. I'm so glad I never gave up on her even though she could be a royal BITCH. And for some reason she loves kids, go figure.


              • #8
                Lovely story ASB, but you have to admit your filly met you half way. Some will just not meet you half way and are a danger to themsleves and those around them.

                I wouldn't hesitate to put a horse down who is a danger to humans despite being given the chance to prove otherwise.

                COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

                "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.


                • #9
                  As a trainer, you tend to get the bad actors.

                  You learn that, for every one that you can turn around, there are those you can't, their problems are more than it is safe for them to keep them around and be handled by the several people that may have to work with them.
                  We like our vets and farriers and helpers more than asking them to keep working with dangerous horses with questionable futures.

                  A fine line to walk with those, when other people or horses are involved, if the horse is horse aggressive.

                  Thankfully there are very few, if any, in a lifetime with horses, that are that bad.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                    Thankfully there are not many real rogues out there, whatever the cause.
                    Originally posted by FancyASB
                    So many people told me to get rid of her, but she's my girl and is now 20
                    It's easy to know that YOU cannot handle, but never underestimate what a professional (vet, chiropractor, DENTIST, farrier, trainer, etc.) can accomplish.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JohnDeere View Post
                      if you rescue a horse, or get one at all I guess, what does it take for you to say the horse is unsafe & decide to either PTS or give to a home that wont ever ride/handle/turnout with other horses/whatever the problem is?

                      Do you try to rehab or not?
                      99% of horses who others declare are "unsafe" are horses who turn out to be misbehaving for a good reason. Remove that horrible saddle or abusive rider and suddenly the evil-bucking-monster turns into a puppy-dog. Also, one person's "dangerous" is another person's "normal but just not for beginner's" horse.

                      Occasionally a horse does have to be euthanized, but it's only after a vet's exam and researching options. If he's got a progressive & painful condition, such as bad arthritis not even allowing him to be comfortable in the pasture, then maybe it's time to let him go.

                      Equihab had one euthanized who arrived with bad canker in all four feet and he was a huge percheron who refused treatment. He also was cushing and showing signs of laminits.

                      Equihab had two old run-into-the-ground arthritic and unhappy OTTBs and one off-track STB euthanized in the past few years. Pain management can only go so far. If they're not pasture sound and they're only getting more crippled, what can you do? One of them also had really erratic behavior that made him unpredictable and suddenly unfriendly, and sometimes we wonder if he had some other issue going on (brain tumor?)

                      I had two of my own personal horses euthanized, and they were both "rescues". One arrived as a crippled 19 yr old who was probably nerved from navicular. She fell over sometimes. As she got older, she fell more often and had more trouble getting up. When she was 21 the vet was out doing shots and she had a bad fall and wouldn't try very hard to get up, so I knew it was time. The other was fine up until he suddenly got sick, couldn't swallow, got weaker, and went down all in the course of a day or two. Despite $4,000 in vet bills we couldn't get him better or even get him to stand up, so I had to let him go.

                      Now at the moment I have a Belgian named Romeo. He came through Equihab with his teammate. He had something terrible happen to him and he arrived with a 12"+ jagged scar down the back of a rear leg. He won't let anyone handle his back legs or tail. Some Equihab BoD felt he was not safe to adopt out to the public, and they're right. So I personally adopted him and took responsibility for him. Is he "dangerous"? Should he be put down? Maybe in the wrong hands he might be a problem, but he and I get along well. I don't blame him for him being so screwed up. He really tries to make friends with people. And I don't care if he's got issues; having him makes me happy. He's been here at my farm a good two years or so already, and he'll be here forever.

                      Here's the big doofus (photo attached) getting his hooftrim this week:
                      Attached Files
                      Veterinarians for Equine Welfare


                      • #12
                        ---"Here's the big doofus (photo attached)..."---

                        Nice horse, what a big'un.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JohnDeere View Post
                          Just a general ?: if you rescue a horse, or get one at all I guess, what does it take for you to say the horse is unsafe & decide to either PTS or give to a home that wont ever ride/handle/turnout with other horses/whatever the problem is?

                          Do you try to rehab or not?
                          I really do feel strongly that the word "rescue" is used wayyyy too frequently.

                          It's used by people who have got a cheap or free horse in the hope that they've got a bargain or something of worth.

                          I feel even more strongly that when horses have been spoilt and had a poor start and need to be remediated that they're ONLY taken on by someone who really and truly can give them a chance and commit to that.

                          Spoilt horses are NEVER easy and I've seen too many passed from pillar to post and along the way just getting worse and worse until they're destined for slaughter.

                          The thing is with spoilt horses is that they've often become totally insecure and lost their ability to trust or have confidence and IME they're never bad, just confused and bewildered and don't know what they should do.

                          Too often they end up in the hands of folks who really don't know what to do or what to try next and who want to fix the problem quickly. And its just NEVER, as in NO WAY EVER, going to happen. Or else they are with someone who feels sorry for them and hence isn't able to be their leader. Rather they're thinking about what they might have been through and over-compensating.

                          In my experience it's never the case that they can't become viable... providing they don't have serious physical or health problems.

                          But this presumes that they go to someone who can commit what is needed to them

                          Horses live in the here and now and so its really important that they're handled consistently and, when they're troubled, firmly and with discipline. You can't let a spoilt horse learn that its going to be getting cuddles and kisses when its demonstrating negative behaviour.

                          For me this is the crux of the matter. You take a horse on knowing its got problems and you have to make that commitment. If you want to give it a chance, then you have to give it time and attention as well as positive training which establishes you as its leader.

                          The last one I took on as my own personal "retirement project". He came here on "his last chance"; to be put down, the owner having succeeded in getting the insurance loss of use payment. I got him just over 2 years ago. He wasn't sat on in over 18 months after I got him and was just chilling and being handled consistently. When people asked me how long it would be before I started to work him I said "when he's ready"

                          I've had them that reared and come over backwards. That come backwards at you with intent on letting you have both back barrels. That rear and strike out with the forelegs. That grab you if you dare go anywhere near their front end. They've all come good, albeit some of them you ALWAYS have to do everything "text book" correct and others have a slightly unusual plot.

                          I never ordinarily tell folks their backgrounds. It becomes irrelevant. I'm not one myself who ever wants to know what happened to a horse or what it does. I know from decades of experience that how a horse is with one person is most likely to be totally different with another after time. Folks just need to know what to do and what not to do. That's all there is to is once history is history.

                          That means I tend to stick with them.

                          The only time I give up on a horse is when the quality of it's life is so poor that it's suffering and with absolutely no prognosis of a good recovery.
                          Last edited by Thomas_1; Dec. 27, 2009, 07:21 AM.


                          • #14
                            I have taken in many unwanted, neglected or cast off horses through the years and I have had just one in 40 years that I finally decided to pts on the advice of my vet due to aggressive, dangerous behavior.

                            I agree with Thomas that when an insecure horse loses its herd leader, there can be dire consequences as that horse tries to find a secure place with a leader. If that horse has alpha mare tendencies, it can be a dangerous situation for others in the herd while the situation is sorted out and if that horse never finds that place, it can be a disaster. I also believe that some horses can be so damaged mentally and psychologically by cruel handling at a young age that it is impossible to rehabilitate them no matter what methods you use to try and reach that horse.

                            Having worked with an ultra aggressive, unstable OTTB for thirteen years with consistency and leadership and the help of trainers and medical professionals to try and help this mare find a modicum of calmness and stability in her life, there is a point when you have to weigh the potential danger to yourself and other horses and make the decision about when to say enough. I tried different feeds, calming supplements, lots of turnout and consistency, but this mare was hard wired for hyper sensitivity and aggression. She would have been an effective boss mare in a wild herd, but she could not relax, ever, and when the elderly boss herd was pts due to old horse health issues, it had a terrible effect on her and the other horses on the farm.

                            When my mare became exceedingly aggressive with other horses to the point of kicking and killing a beloved pasturemate and suddenly began striking out at us, I consulted with my vet who said simply, 'She could kill you, and she will kill another horse." I would never pass along a horse like this to anyone else, because of the damage they can do to an innocent person or horse down the road. As Thomas said, they often wind up being passed pillar to post until they wind up at slaughter auction and that isn't fair to the horse, either. We chose euthanasia here on our farm and while I loved that mare and missed her, the whole tone of our farm changed after she was gone. The other horses were not fearful and I didn't have to worry that this mare would hurt us or someone else.

                            The most important thing is for you to stay safe, and keep the other horses that are in close proximity to this horse safe.

                            Best of luck to you.
                            Last edited by chai; Dec. 26, 2009, 11:50 AM.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Thomas_1 View Post
                              I really do feel strongly that the word "rescue" is used wayyyy too frequently.

                              It's used by people who have got a cheap or free horse in the hope that they've got a bargain or something of worth.
                              That is a good question, since the word could mean different things to different people.

                              I use it to mean a horse who would be suffering badly or dead if someone did not intervene promptly.
                              Veterinarians for Equine Welfare


                              • #16
                                I'm glad this topic came up as I am looking at my options too.

                                We have a horse that is nice, friendly, but is also unpredictable. Her answer is to turn and kick. She has been known to kick the "sh1t" out of horses that are in her space. My daughter walked up to her to grab her halter and she turned and kicked my 9 year old across the pasture. If you have to treat her medically, she takes it personally and takes it out on the one treating her. She is best if she is stalled by herself, but walking in to halter her most times she turns her butt at you. Sometimes its easy to halter her other times we are back at square one. She is unpredictable if she will kick or not. I have read books, consulted with trainers, used all my 30 years of experience and at this point I have had many people tell me to put her down.

                                When we got her at 6 she was not halter broken. She has come along way, but she still has along way to go. Its been 4 years and now she is 10 and because of other issue - like refusing to take ANY bit, yet line drives quietly with a halter, she is not broke to ride. Sometimes she is sweet as can be, but other days for no apparent reason, she will let her feet fly.

                                Its hard to put down a healthy horse. Maybe if I did this or maybe if I did that...
                                The View from Here


                                • #17
                                  There's no "school answer," here, except maybe "quit when the game is no longer worth the candle."

                                  Put another way, if you don't have the time and skill and resources to deal with the problem then move it on down the road.

                                  If you don't want to assume the risks that the horse presents then move it on down the road.

                                  Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                                    That the horse is a rescue should not matter when you evaluate it for suitability to be trained and safe.
                                    Once you decide the problems, no matter why, are too hard to surmont and others agree, your vet and other trainers, sometimes there are sad decisions to make.

                                    It is the same with dogs.
                                    You evaluate them and there are a few that are over the top aggressive and sure, a very tight situation, with a very experienced handler, that dog may be able to be contained so other dogs and people are safe from it, but why try to live under those conditions?

                                    Even with people, some just are too mean and have to be put away, for the safety of others and sometimes of themselves.

                                    Thankfully there are not many real rogues out there, whatever the cause.
                                    Agree 100%. Especially the first paragraph.

                                    I see sooo many horse and dog people who "rescue" an animal and then find it has issues that make it unsuitable for that particular person. They hang onto it, because it was a "rescue," and the animal and the person are both miserable. The animal often ends up living under certain restraints just to keep itself and the people around it safe.

                                    Sometimes better to let go.... either turn the animal over to a professional, if you can find one willing to take it. Put the horse/dog down.

                                    The horse I rehabbed last year never came sound enough to really have a future as a riding horse. I knew that was a possibility going in. If it turned out he had a bad attitude as well, and serious issues on the ground, he'd be laid to rest peacefully. But he's kind and gentle and my husband and daughter love him too, so he gets a free pass and lives a cushy retired life.

                                    You can't save them all. IMO-- and I may get ripped for this, there is no shame in euth'ing a truly dangerous animal, once all options have been exhausted.

                                    Too many good creatures out there....
                                    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


                                    • #19
                                      Thanks for that Thomas because it really makes sense on so many levels. I will be the first to admit that my husband does much of the work with the spoiled or so called bad actors we get here. And as always, it takes as long as it takes. I have been on the receiving end of some not so nice butt chewings from Mr. Equilibrium for not being consistent enough at times with certain horses. Deserved every one of them and it's made me a better horsewoman for it.

                                      COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

                                      "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.


                                      • #20
                                        I took in quite a few "crazy ones" and turned them around before I ran into the one I couldn't. He came to me as a 4 year old TB stallion (gelded him first thing!) that had been started and at the track, had some mystery accident was given time off and was now ready to return, but due to his age, they felt it wasn't worth trying to get any starts out of him... Not sure what really happened, as you sometimes don't get the real story on things like this.... I figured it didn't matter as I'd just restart him anyway, but maybe in this case the details did matter... I do now wish I knew his real story, perhaps it would have shed light on the matter.....

                                        I knew we were in for a tough go, the first time I put a saddle on him and he came unglued... I have never seen a horse buck like him.

                                        So it was back to square one. First thing I did was rule out physical issues.....3 vets saw him, one did acupuncture, no physical problems found... So start with ground work.....months of this and he was doing great.... Got a few short rides before he dumped me off and put me on crutches for 6 weeks... Kept up the ground work and someone else asked if they could ride him (excellent horseperson). I said OK, and she too was ungracefully removed..... More ground work (his groundwork was fabulous!) and I started my search for a velcro butt trainer (I'm getting too old for this....). I was straightforward with everyone and found one willing to take him. After 5 months of riding with this trainer he still was not safe. He'd have good days, but out of the blue without warning, he'd blow...... Finally one day the trainer called and said his wife put her foot down, he was not to ride the horse anymore (he had slammed him into a wall in a bucking fit..). So I took him home. I had spent quite a bit on this horse by this time, and would have spent more if I thought there was a way to make him safe. It was pretty clear there was not.... I spent a lot of time thinking about what I should do with him. I was really afraid if I placed him as a companion horse he would hurt someone. He was 16-2, solid black, absolutely stunning and a sweetheart on the ground by now.... I figured somewhere, would climb aboard and get hurt... I really didn't want this to happen.

                                        I called the woman I got him from and told her the whole story. She said she'd take him back and figure something out.. I brought him back and told her to let me know what she did...

                                        Well, he was NOT ever going to be a safe riding horse, so she took him down to a local stock contractor (I'm sure a few of you will shudder at this...). They laughed at her and said "oh, poor little girl can't ride her pony...". One of the roughstock riders said he'd give him a go. He climbed on and promptly was cartwheeled off. So he began his life as a rodeo horse. They loved him, he was sweet as pie on the ground, everybody's buddy, but once in the chute, he was all business. They started him in some local rodeos and nobody stayed on him, so they were planning to take him into the big time... From all reports, he seemed to be quite happy with this arrangement. Unfortunately, he had a freak accident and shattered his cannon bone and was put down (no it wasn't due to poor horsekeeping on the contractors part, they treat those horses quite well! they are very valuable...).

                                        Not sure how it would have ended if she had not taken him back. I clearly could never place him as he was never going to be safe. He could have been a pasture pet, and if I had a farm at the time, that's probably what he would have been... But at the time I did not.... But that was when I learned that you can't save them all......
                                        Last edited by foggybok; Dec. 26, 2009, 06:40 PM.
                                        Turn off the computer and go ride!