A difficult question for all horse owners- euthanasia

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Cheko

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I used to have 12 cats, all very much loved and very well cared for. One by one they got too ill to do anything more for so, one by one I had to have them put down. So I guess if I had to have Falcon put down (if there was no other way) I would.. It does affect you though very much. (I think of them all very often.) It certainly doesn't get any easier. However, no matter how much you miss that individual pet (whatever it is) you will no doubt get another, may be the same breed, colour or whatever but compeltely different but you'll love it just the same.
 

Esther.D

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Pablo is only 10, he is currently effectively retired due to his back problems and emotional issues from his past. He is staying with us for life...but if we could no longer keep him and there was no-one we trusted implicitly to take him on then we would have him put to sleep. He has been through too much in his life to risk falling into the wrong hands and being sold as a riding horse as he looks fit, healthy and apparently rideable - thus putting some innocent purchaser at risk as well as putting him under unbearable and unfair stress as well as pain :(
 

Wally

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Ugla is 15, retired through arthritis, she is permanently lame but fat and (at the moment) happy enough.

Frances and I are in two minds, to have her put to sleep before winter sets in and her pain gets worse with the cold, or wait and pray we don't find her in acute distress in the middle of the night in a force 12 with rain which makes your head bleed.

Ljóssie is 19 now, he has MEGA issues about- just about everything. If he became unsound he'd have to be put down simply because he'd find all the hukman intervention too much, he'd get over load. As it is he can cope with humans so long as he never has to meet one for more than a couple of hours a day...and that's me whom he trusts, nobody else can catch him! It took me 3 years to get that far with him.
 

sidesaddlelady1

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Mehitabel said:
as things are, if i get run over by a bus tomorrow, YO gets him in my will and has said he will live out his days with her on the riding school - but i also have her word that should anything mean that he can't stay with her, he will go to sleep. it'd be profoundly unfair on him to do anything else.
I'd be happy with that arrangement but not everyone has that option. The ILPH the "gift in will" arrangement works in that you fill in a form and send it to them when you make the will so they are fore-warned even if you make it years before you snuff it. Obviously you need to keep them up-dated. The scheme is widely advertised by the ILPH so they must be able to cope with it.

I have also lodged a letter with my yard owner with copy to my solicitor, requesting that if anything happens to me suddenly the yard will look after the WH as long as is necessary/until the estate is settled and will be reimbursed out of my estate. Obviously you need to clear it with the YO before doing this.
 

sidesaddlelady1

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Ok, Oscar had very severe arthritis, and, even if we did decide to retire him he would have no quality of life. You could see there was so brightness in his eyes, no gleem in his coat, he was nothing but a shell. He was 12 but looked about 30.

So yes, I do believe that sometime, there are cases to which euthanisia can happen.
Of course euthanasia is the kindest thing in many circumstances but not on purely financial reasons - "my horse can't be ridden and I can't/don't want to afford the expense of kkeeping him as a companion"
 

Persona

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Echo Mehitabel. I have an aged mare (30ish) who has been retired for the last 2 years and has non-specific arthritis (all joints), navicular, cushings and thus is prone to laminitis, her teeth are disintegrating and she is looking depressed and, most of the time, disinterested. She has been having bi-monthly Vet visits to monitor her, but this is her last season with us - last winter she struggled walking in the fields after we had had rain and the ground became slippery and she isn't happy being in the stable for longer than the 'normal' night period. In September or October she will take her journey to rainbow bridge. She has been with me for 13 years and although this is a hard decision I am convinced it is the right one for her - even if not for me.
 

LindaAd

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I have two retired horses, as well as two semi-retired. Of the retired ones, one is very old (we don't know how old, but he's outlived his teeth!); he enjoys life, and he enjoys his feeds. If he ever started to be in pain, and it wasn't something the vet or the farrier could deal with, he would be PTS. He does get foot abcesses (used to have brilliant feet), but they generally clear up pretty fast, with some help from the farrier.

The other is only about 15, young and fit, but permanently lame after an injury to the cartilage in his stifle. He's enjoying his retirement; because I'm keeping him, I haven't got room to keep another horse to ride, which is very sad for me. But I can't see there's any alternative.

Linda
 

charlotte+jill!

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This thread has really made me think.....

If Scooby was ever in an undue amount of pain I would have him PTS no questions asked. He has given and shown me so much in a small amount of time I would owe it to him.

This is a very personal thing and has come to me after what someone else had said. If he got something that would in time reder him in pain/suffering, I would take him out for a last day out hunting and have him PTS and sent to the kennels. Then he would pass away with his last day being something that he loved and enjoyed whole heartedly. That may sound horrible to some but I believe if he could tell me, that is how he'd perfer to go, he loves his work and he loves hunting.

Also I feel that if he had to be retaired he would loose all life, that spark that makes him, him would disappear, and I would have him PTS. Of course I woud see how he copes, but he just loves to work and be challeged.

Now the if anything happened to me....... I would gift him to my instructor/my yard owner. That yard is his home. He loves its there. My instructor used to event him she would get years of joy and happiness out of him and then I know he would be her sons, he would also get years of happiness and joy from Scooby.
 

Bea

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I completely agree with putting horses to sleep when they are in a lot of pain and will not recover. But I'm really surprised reading about people who will put their horses to sleep when they can't look after them any longer, even if there is nothing wrong with the horse! To me, it sounds arrogant and egocentric thinking that your horses will only be happy living with you, and nobody else. To be honest, I don't think the horse really cares that much, as long as he/she is being looked after properly. Sure, the horse will need some time to settle in a new environment and with a new owner, but most horses will be fine after a while. I think owners like to think they are more important to their horse than they actually are...

I hope I haven't offended anyone, but I feel quite strongly about this and felt I had to say something. Everybody else seemed to agree with that woman who put her 2 horses to sleep, without even trying to find a new home for them.
 

Mehitabel

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it depends on the horse, bea.
what if you have a horse who to an observer looks sound, but has issues that mean he can't be ridden? do a search for esther d's posts about pablo, and you'll see an example. if he were to be rehomed, because he looks fine, it's be very easy for someone to try to ride him, and that'd be a disaster and very unfair on him.

or take my horse copper - would *you* buy him if you were looking? 22, blemished with a fat leg from cellulitis and scars on two legs, can't jump due to an old injury, bad to catch, suspicious to be handled due to previous mistreatment, bad to load, won't be clipped, needs sedation for vet treatment. if i, or the executors of my will should i be run over by that bus, advertised him for sale - would he be terribly likely to get a decent caring home?

i quite agree that with most horses it'd be unfair - but believe me when i say that those of us who have made that decision haven't taken it lightly.

petal - absolutely - she's 12, fantastic breeding, great competition record, shoes, clips, catches, loads, goes, stops, there are no ifs or buts about her, she's bred 2 fantastic foals. she is a very saleable horse, valuable in her own right. if she were to be PTS rather than sold, yes, that'd be terrible. she has an awful lot to offer and it's very obvious that she does - if she were to be advertised in nag and dog this week we'd have a string of buyers and she has enough value that she would easily make herself loved and cherished, and her owners would have the incentive to do the right thing by her in the future.

but copper? not so much. he has no market value at all, regardless of how much i adore him, and what future would he have elsewhere? chances are it's be a market, teeth filed to take some years off his age, and off to a dealer with no knowledge of his history, jumped on a dodgy tendon most likely, because he does love jumping, and then what?

what kind of repayment is that for 17 years? i'd rather he went to sleep at his own home, where he is happy and secure and then i know he will never be mistreated - with his history and condition, he is a prime candidate for mistreatment through rehoming.
i have no rose tinted specs on about my ownership - i've sold in the past, and would do so again - but not copper.
 

Bea

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Mehitabel, I understand what you are saying, and I understand that it is a risk to sell on or give away a horse, especially a non ridable one. But would you really rather take their life??? Maybe I'm naive, but I think the chances of something terrible happening to a horse after it gets sold are not that big. Not big enough to justify taking their life instead. Surely the majority of people is actually trustworthy and will look after the horse properly?

The impression that I got from several people that replied to this thread is that their horses are actually ridable and healthy, but that they think they are the only ones that can ride/handle them. I realise in some very exceptional cases this might be true, but I think the majority of horses can and will form a relationship with any suitable, experienced owner.
 

eventerbabe

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come try ride my horse, he'll have you on the floor in minutes ;) as mehitabel points out, those who have said they'd rather have their horses PTS have thought it through and not taken the decision lightly. i wouldn't sell mine, i'd rather have them gifted to a trusted friend or PTS because i could never sell them. i have a perfectly healthy little mare whos laminitic. she needs careful monitoring, feeding and shod once every 4 weeks. not many people would put such effort into looking after a pony like that. i do coz i've had her for 13 of her 16 years. call me what you will, but my horses welfare is paramount and NO ONE knows them better than my mum and i.

its very naive to expect a horse thats been with an owner a considerable length of time to suddenly forget that and form a bond with a new owner. in my experience, that just doesn't happen. my old loan pony used to scream for me when he came back to the yard. i'd had him 4 years and he'd been away from me for 2. we had a special bond and he certainly didn't forget that. he also became unrideable in his new home as he was too strong for kids to ride and kept throwing their mum. i am 100% certain it was because he was totally miserable. have you ever seen a depressed horse? not a nice sight :(
 
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chev

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Sorry bea, I can't agree. The lady did get an awful lot of critisism for having her two PTS - but they were elderly (at least mid twenties, and I think one was older than that), very closely bonded and had known no other home since they were foals. She didn't want to put them through the trauma of being rehomed, maybe separated - even if kept together it's unlikely they'd be kept solely as a pair, even by a charity. They'd had a fantastic life and her feeling was that it was better to end it having had a fantastic life, having known no stress or upset than put them through what would be, for them, a terrible upheaval. Neither was used to going out anywhere - it would have been hellish to have to start again. Yes, they may have settled in time - but they may not.

If I was unable to keep my horses or look after them, the vast majority would go to a new home. Lili, Tally, the two foals, Rhodri, Andy, Tia - they're all fit, healthy ponies who would settle well with someone new and have a long and happy life elsewhere.

Dot... well, Dot's a difficult one. She's feral, more or less - she's highly unlikely to make a riding or driving pony, she has serious mental issues that may well never be fully addressed. With us she'll have a useful life as a broodie - but I cannot guarantee that if she was sold on that she'd find a suitable home in the future. There are hundreds of potential companions already desperate for homes out there - why on earth would I want to add to an already serious welfare problem? What is so wrong with taking responsibility for a horse's future in this way? She wouldn't know, or care, that she hadn't had twenty odd extra years of life. She'd just have known a great life with us. I saw the effect settling into a new home had on Dot. Why should I put her through that all over again?

And Gelfy. To all intents and purposes a young, useful gelding with a potentially long and useful life. In reality, has serious (and mainly hidden) soundness problems, some potentially dangerous attitudes, and although we manage him well it's only through years of trial and error that we've worked around his quirks.

I would never be so arrogant as to think I'm the only person who could offer my horses a good home. But I don't believe that life is sacred above all else; I have a responsibility to my animals to make sure that I can guarantee their care for the rest of theri lives, one way or another. And in horses where that care needs to be more specialised and I cannot guarantee they'd get it, it's my responsibility to make sure they don't end up suffering - however I achieve that.

No - I'd never put a healthy horse to sleep. But healthy doesn't just mean physically healthy. There are people I'd trust with Dot; and if one of them could take her if I couldn't have her any more, then I'd let her go. But finding homes for ponies like Dot is very difficult.
 

Mehitabel

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Bea said:
Mehitabel, I understand what you are saying, and I understand that it is a risk to sell on or give away a horse, especially a non ridable one. But would you really rather take their life??? Maybe I'm naive, but I think the chances of something terrible happening to a horse after it gets sold are not that big. Not big enough to justify taking their life instead. Surely the majority of people is actually trustworthy and will look after the horse properly?

The impression that I got from several people that replied to this thread is that their horses are actually ridable and healthy, but that they think they are the only ones that can ride/handle them. I realise in some very exceptional cases this might be true, but I think the majority of horses can and will form a relationship with any suitable, experienced owner.
yes, it's a risk, and it's always a risk. but the younger and healthier the horse, the less of a risk it is. as i said - would *you* buy copper, on the desciption above? would you advise anyone else to? if someone posted on here saying that they were going to view a horse of that description, then what would everyone say? don't touch with a bargepole.

so those things put the risk right up - he isn't desirable to a good home, which means he is easy prey to a bad one - especially if it were a non-horsey husband who's just been widowed, for example (back to the run over by a bus scenario), selling, and not a loving owner who knows what to look for in a scam buyer. my rideable, healthy and valuable-in-herself horse, yes, sell, definitely. but not the currently rideable and healthy but elderly and grumpy and previously mistreated one. if i'm lucky he has 10 more years of work in him - at 32, i would expect him to be severely limited in what he can do. if i'm unlucky he might start showing his age more this winter and need to retire in 2 years - the last couple of years he has gotten very grey, he has sagged, lost muscle tone, and he looks his age now, whereas three years ago he didn't. so he's a big gamble for someone to buy.

like chev says - he has had a good life with me and yes, at this stage, i would end it rather than take the risk.
yes, the majority of people are trustworthy. but the majority of people also won't want my horse, or gelfy, or dot, or eventerbabe's bonnie, for all the reasons given above. a cynical dealer will realise that and go for an advert like him to make a fast profit. i've heard a lot of stories about alleged retirement homes who sell their charges on by lying about their ages, doping them and filing teeth etc.

as eventerbabe points out - we take care of our oldies because they have given us a huge amount - i owe copper an incalculable debt. assuming no buses get me, i will give him the best care possible for as long as he is happy. i owe that to him because of his long service and years of love - if i sold him tomorrow, his new owner wouldn't have that attachment or debt to him - they'd want their money's worth, and fair enough - who wouldn't.

i do agree that putting a healthy, rideable and *saleable* horse with a bright future to sleep is selfish. but it's equally or more selfish and cowardly IMO to sell or gift away (not to a friend - to a stranger) an elderly horse who doesn't have many years left in them, because you don't want to make that decision.

i know someone on another board who took on a 30 year old horse, it worked out well, she loves the mare and is great for her - but i must say i still don't think much of the mare's previous owners. the mare was very lucky, but it could so easily have not been.
 

Bea

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Eventerbabe and Chev, I completely understand your arguments and I can see why you think that way, but I am not convinced. I don't want to get into an argument, so I think we will just have to agree to disagree. :)

Let's hope none of us ever have to make decisions like this!

Edit: Mehitabel, I guess the only good solution for an old/unridable horse would be to give it to someone as a companion horse. But I realise that there is not much demand for those, and you would still have to trust the new owner not to sell the horse on... It's a tough one!
 
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chev

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Trying to rehome my little sec A mare is what made me really think about this. I had her advertised for loan or sale (at £200) to a good home. She's not suitable as a first ridden (too strong and spooky) although she's fantastic on the lead. Not quite good enough to show at county level, although she'd do ok at local shows. Needs careful weight management but never had laminitis. Has a scar on one cornea. Not really breeding quality (although there are a lot worse out there). Over twelve months of advertising I had people offering me homes where she'd have "loads of grass - we have ten acres", people asking me if I'd drop the price because she was blemished, people asking if she'd be ok for their 6 year old to show in first ridden classes. And that's a mare who has none of the issues the other two I have do. She's finally, after nearly two years, gone to a fantastic loan home who will give her a home for life with a very similar pony as a companion. She couldn't be in a better home.

So yes - even the difficult to home ponies can have a great future - but what would have happened if I'd died? Sometimes there isn't the facility to care for these ponies for the length of time it takes to find them a home. If she'd been sold to any one of the homes that were offered before the one she went to... it doesn't bear thinking about.

Unfortunately it's something I do have to think about - and it's something I've prepared for in my will, too. None of us know what's around the corner.
 

chapsi

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Most of my life I was against euthanasia, until I had to start deciding very difficult issues. Bea,
I don't wish to sound patronising (I imagina I'm much older than you), but as we get older, more mature, we tend to look into life under a different light.
I used to hava a dog with an awful incurable disease. The vet, unscrupulous man , advocated 'when liufe lies, there is always hope'. My dog suffered horribly, for years and her death was very distraught for those you witnessed it. I was a teenager at the time, it was my selfish decision to keep her alive. These days I wouldn't think twice.

Going back to my beloved Pegs, hiis aggression made him was dangerous. I kept him, did the best for him, stood by him. Above all, I took a very responsable stand; I went against anybody's advice to sell him to a dealer or send him to slaughter; ethically I could not sell a horse like him, he could have hurted somebody seriously (or worse), and I could not put him down without coming to a point where I KNEW there was nothing more that one could do or hoped.
Would you imagine the risk of passing on a horse like him? specially in our country where horses with issues are not understood? He had already been severely abused, what kind of future could I hope for him? more abuse? knowing that one day he would end up as dog meat?
To my relief (but pain) the day came when his problem was diagnosed. After two operations, vet and I decided what was the most humane end, as there was no way out. He is free from his raging hormonal body now, at least he was spared the stress of going to the slaughterhouse.
I kept the promise I made him.

You see, all depends on personal options, on particular cases and situations.
Had I not have such a supportive and caring vet, who knows?!
 

Bea

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Chapsi, I agree with you completely. When an animal has severe physical (or sometimes even psychological) problems, it is often best to put them to sleep. I also don't have any problems with human euthanasia (I'm from the Netherlands, and this is accepted and legal over there). My problem lies in putting healthy animals to sleep, although I do realise that it can be difficult to find suitable homes for some horses.

Another thing: sometimes, people PTS animals with medical issues that can be treated successfully, simply because they do not want to spend the extra time and money that the animal requires. My parents' dog has diabetes and needs expensive injections and quite a lot of care every day. As far as we can tell, he is not suffering at all: he is still happy and loves his walks in the woods. The vet told us that many people would opt for euthanasia in such cases, because of the costs and effort involved. I do not agree with this at all. When you decide to get a pet (or horse), you commit yourself to look after it, also when it gets ill or old. It is not some piece of furniture that you throw away when it is broken.

Chapsi, I am 25 by the way. My use of language may make me sound younger, but that would probably be because English isn't my first language...
 

chev

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Hmm. One of the big issues with Gelfy is cost. Yes, it does sound terrible, but I don't have unlimited funds, and insurance will no longer cover the cost of any expense because of his joint problems. He's cost me hundreds already, and will be costing me a few more hundred even if we can get him sound. Ok, so there's no guarantee that we could get Gelfy sound however much money I'm prepared to throw at him; but very few people have the money to treat a horse and damn the expense.

I do wholeheartedly agree that part of the responsibilty of owning an animal is to pay for care it needs; but some treatment is horribly expensive, and out of reach of some. My mother has a dog who is currently costing her around £20 a week in vet bills - that's on top of surgery he needed not so long ago that cost her nearly £600, and more surgery is on the cards. She lives on a disability pension of around £70 a week - her dogs want for nothing, she's an ex-veterinary nurse, and will go without to care for her animals. But there will come a point where she simply cannot afford the bills for that dog any longer, even though as long as he has these treatments he has a failry good life. So; does she have him PTS after a lifetime of real love and care and know she did the best by him, or does she hand him over to an over-stretched charity somewhere and cross her fingers that someone else will foot the bill?
 
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