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A not so nice topic... euthanizing unwanted foal (Update pg. 18, not pregnant!)

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    A not so nice topic... euthanizing unwanted foal (Update pg. 18, not pregnant!)

    Obviously, I am posting under an alter because I don't want to seem like some kind of monster.

    I have a now 2 year old filly who I am fearing may be pregnant. The vet is going to check her next week while out on a routine farm call.

    Last fall I had moved all my horses to a different farm temporarily. The filly was about a year and a half at the time. Moving my horses to this farm proved to be a big mistake, and I moved out of there very quickly. But not before I discovered that the barn owner was turning my filly out with a mare and her unweaned, ungelded yearling colt. I was not aware of this until after it had already happened.

    While I was pissed off at the time, I was not too concerned about pregnancy. My filly was easily 3 hands bigger than this colt and had never shown any mareish behavior. Nor did I ever see the colt acting studdy. Plus, my filly showed signs of heat all through the spring. I had completely forgotten about the incident until the other day, when I noticed she looks like she is developing a bag. Upon closer inspection, she has also lost a lot of tone in her vulva. And her tail has NO resistance. Darn it.

    So the vet will be out next week, but in the meantime I am freaking out. I'm concerned about the risks of my 2 year old delivering a foal. But an even bigger problem in my mind is that I DO NOT WANT THIS FOAL.

    First, I cannot financially support an additional horse right now, let alone a foal who will need IgG's, all it's vaccinations series, and so on. My farm is not set up to raise a foal, either.

    But an even bigger problem in my mind is that I feel this foal will be completely useless to me. The potential "sire," if you can even call him that, was an UGLY, unregistered, incorrect, growth-stunted TWH/QH colt. The filly in question is a registered dressage prospect. I do not have any use for a fugly WB/TWH/QH, and I doubt many others do. And I honestly don't want to waste my money raising a useless foal I don't want until weaning time. I'm sorry if that makes me sound snotty, but it's the truth.

    So this brings me to the question at hand. It's way too late to terminate the pregnancy, but I'm thinking of asking the vet the euthanize the foal upon delivery. But I am worried the vet and anyone else who finds out about this will think I am a horrid person. I know this choice would not go over well with most people.

    I can't think of another solution. I could try to find someone to take the foal in as a bucket baby, but the chances of that are probably pretty slim. Raising orphans is expensive. And as I keep saying, I do not want this foal. Nor do I think it is necessarily my responsibility since it was an unwanted, accidental pregnancy.

    Suggestions? Opinions?

    I hope next week I find out that I don't have to make this choice.
    Last edited by alter_E_go; Oct. 29, 2007, 11:11 PM. Reason: updated title

    Suggestion: Tell your vet EXACTLY what you have said here.

    Opinion: I wouldn't want to be in your shoes. Ever. But I don't think you are out of line in wanting to euthanize the foal. I honestly do not know what I would do if I found myself in the same situation. I will send mighty jingles your way that it will not come to that. I hope your poor filly is just "pleasingly plump" and not preggers at all.

    Please keep us updated.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world." ~ Jack Layton


      Wow. Not "you're horrible" wow, just... this is a real dilemma. I know I wouldn't and couldn't euthanize a healthy foal at birth. Who knows, the foal could take both parents' best qualities (remember, "stunted" isn't hereditary) and be a real charmer.

      I have one of those myself. My YEARLING filly was impregnated by the farm owner's mustang stallion. The colt (a gelding of course!) is now 2-1/2 and a wonderful animal. He did indeed seem to blend the best of both. But at the time I would've done anything to turn back time and avoid the whole ugly situation.

      I would never presume to tell someone what they can afford or what they want to deal with. And I am well aware that a mixed breed, unwanted foal is not at the top of the list for a smooth cruise through life. Lastly, I do not want horses grouped with domestic pets, so as livestock you should be free to do what you want as long as it is humane. On the other hand (this is the third hand now, I think) there is no way to stop public opinion and you very well may be castigated. I do not envy you this decision, and I hope you find you do not have to make it.

      I also hope you are not in Washington or I'll find myself standing by with a bucket and igloo cooler...
      Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.


        With how many unwanted horses float around, euthanize the foal unless the owners of the stud want it. Not to be all Un-PC, but we allow humans to have abortions, the pound puts down gobs of puppies and kittens.

        There will be people who think life is a disney movie and that your foal will be the next Olympic Gold Medalist and probably think you are awful- if any of those show up, they could pay for the foal and take it.


          I couldn't do it
          Can you talk to the folks at the farm where your gal was and see if they'll step up and support/adopt the foal if she is indeed pregnant?

          Just an aside, that ugly colt might not really be so bad.... babies usually go through some pretty rough phases.

          Good luck!
          Y'all ain't right!


            I don't think you're terrible. I think you're faced with the possibility of dealing with a terrible situation, and I understand your feelings. Right now, I will just keep my fingers crossed that your filly is not in foal. If she is, I don't blame you for wanting to euthanize the foal. The slaughterhouses don't need more horses.
            "She is not fragile like a flower. She is fragile like a bomb."


              It's called being a realist. Not a monster.

              I'd talk to your vet exactly as you've done here.

              Now, you also have an could call around and see if anyone wants the critter--university, etc.
              A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

              Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                I am with you on this one. Tell the vet what you have in mind, if vet thinks your a monster then kindly offer the foal to your vet and see how his/her attitude will change.

                This was not your intentions for your mare. BO was wrong for putting your filly in with a potential situation with the colt.


                  Well, where are you? I'd hate to see an innocent life lost, and I have a bit of room at the in... My mother will most likely try and strangle me, but even she couldn't say no in this situation.


                    Is there a way to hold the stallion owners responsible, at least in terms of the financial part of the picture for newborn horse care, vet care for the mare, etc?

                    I'm just trying to think of ways around euthanasia. On the other hand, it's not the worst thing that can happen to the foal, and it's a logical conclusion given all you've said. I'm just such a softy, it's hard to imagine not even giving little muttkins a chance, were I in your shoes.

                    Lesson learned, even when you think it's not possible, it pays to get mares checked if they're ever in the situation this mare was in...
                    "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                    My CANTER blog.


                      Originally posted by BeastieSlave View Post
                      I couldn't do it
                      Can you talk to the folks at the farm where your gal was and see if they'll step up and support/adopt the foal if she is indeed pregnant?
                      From the OP it sounds as though things were "rough" at this farm. I wouldn't want to send another horse to them, if that were the case.

                      To the OP - I say kudos to you for making this tough decision. I completely support your choice to euthanize. I think it's the mature decision when faced with this particular set of circumstances, and it certainly seems to be the best decision for you. My only concern, if I were in your shoes, would be for my mare.


                        My sympathies for being stuck in such a crappy situation.
                        I know *very* little about nurse mares and am only guessing 100% here...but nurse mare places have ways of finding homes for non-weaned foals. Are there any of those types of places near yoou at all that you can call and brainstorm with? I'm not saying definitely keep the pregnancy viable and foal out the mare...but if the mare is pregnant and euth-ing or aborting turns out to be a non-option...maybe a nurse mare place can offer at least some helpful suggestions.
                        If you look online...there are places that do this as a business and rehome foals. Maybe an e-mail or phone call to them can unearth some helpful info.
                        You jump in the saddle,
                        Hold onto the bridle!
                        Jump in the line!


                          Originally posted by BuddyRoo View Post
                          It's called being a realist. Not a monster.

                          I'd talk to your vet exactly as you've done here.

                          Now, you also have an could call around and see if anyone wants the critter--university, etc.
                          I agree!

                          I would also make the stupid barn owner from the other place pay all your vet bills (if your mare is pregnant).


                            Personally, I couldn't and wouldn't ever put down a healthy horse.

                            I would however have an unwanted foal aborted.

                            I would never choose to hand rear a foal. And I've got one of my own now! Though his dam died tragically foaling him. Hand rearing a foal is hard and its not for the faint hearted or the amature with little experience.


                              Originally posted by BeastieSlave View Post
                              I couldn't do it
                              Can you talk to the folks at the farm where your gal was and see if they'll step up and support/adopt the foal if she is indeed pregnant?

                              Just an aside, that ugly colt might not really be so bad.... babies usually go through some pretty rough phases.

                              Good luck!
                              does this mean we should start getting "foal support" from stallion owners?

                              OP - it sounds like you want to do the right thing. With a horse of that breeding if you sold the theoretical foal down the road you don't know where it will end up. I wouldn't call you a monster at all.


                                If you can't pre-adopt it, then go with your gut. Don't let the mare see it, slip it around the corner, and take care of it before you have a chance to re-think the decision you have carefully made.

                                There are too many unwanted , and neglected horses out there already. Babies are a huge responsibility and a disruption even when you want them.


                                  What a horrible situation.....

                                  I don't think it would be wrong of you to put down the foal. You have made it clear you are not prepared to deal with a foal so it wouldn't be fair to the foal to be kept around. See if you could donate the foal to a school, pony club, 4-H horse group that could could give it a GOOD home and that has people who are prepared to raise a foal. If that doesn't work have your other option.


                                    I wouldn't put the foal down. It's not his/her fault. Try to find a home for it or see if a rescue organization will take it.

                                    The TWH part shouldn't deter you. There was an Olympic level Dressage horse, Bao, that was part TWH. Maybe it will be nice horse for someone.


                                      I wouldn't want to be in your shoes and I couldn't "kill" a healthy foal. Of course, it's not my choice.

                                      My mare had an un-planned pregnancy. I knew there was potential for pregnancy and had her palpated. The vet said she wasn't pregnant... 100% sure. Had I know she was pregnant, I would have terminated the pregnancy as long it was not harful to the mare.

                                      We found out a month before she foaled that she was pregnant. I was worried about the baby being 'ugly' or 'odd' because it's a unique cross.

                                      The resulting foal is fantastic. He's had nothing but compliments (some from people that I really respect as horse people/ breeders.) He has the nicest disposition and is so much like his sire and gave me reason to keep his sire a stallion.

                                      I love foals and it's a while since we've had one around and he's such a delight!

                                      I personally couldn't bring myself to euthanize a healthy foal... but like I said, it's not my choice.

                                      I would look for alternatives... would a rescue take the foal after weaning? When I was in 4-H, there were horses donated every year and they selected worthy kids... some of them were weanlings and yearlings. I agree that the cross is pretty bizzare (I'm not a fan of gaited horses crossed with non-gaited horses), but it could be a perfect family type/ 4-H/ trail horse. Heck, your vet may even have some suggestions or alternatives.

                                      If I were in your shoes... which I'm not... I'd look outside of the box and find a good home for the foal at weaning time.

                                      I hope your mare has a successful foaling and I would be concerned at her foaling at 2 there is the potential for complications.

                                      I wish you the best of luck... I wouldn't want your decision sitting on my shoulders... I can live with terminating a pregnancy... I can't live with terminating a healthy life.... but that is me...
                             Rainbows & Mourning Doves Blog
                                      John P. Smith II 1973-2009 Love Always
                                      Father, Husband, Friend, Firefighter- Cancer Sucks- Cure Melanoma


                                        I would support your decision to humanely euthanize the unborn foal.

                                        There are too many unwanted beautiful registered horses out there heading for the slaughterhouse.

                                        I think a poor conformation "mutt" horse will end up in the slaughterhouse, sooner or later.

                                        We do not put the same value on animals as we do an humans. If we did, we wouldn't euthanize so many unwanted dogs and cats. Can you imagine if we did that to unwanted children/homeless people? Not sure if it's better or not, but euthanizing an animal is an easier decision to swallow.

                                        If anyone disagrees with your decision, they can pay for all costs and sign a contract to give the horse a proper home for it's entire life.
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