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When to put your horse down?

This is a discussion on When to put your horse down? within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Whentoput your horse down
  • Letting go time to put yoir horse down

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    07-10-2012, 10:05 AM
  #21
Started
When the owner can no longer guarantee the comfort and well being of the horse then it is time to say good bye.

From what you wrote - you've reached the stage for very serious consideration.

What must not stand in the way are your own emotions.

Make sure the act of sending the horse on to a new world is painless.
Make sure the deed comes unexpected.
Say ' Good - bye'
Cry

Then order it

Then go out and do it all over again.
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    07-10-2012, 10:15 AM
  #22
Weanling
I feel for you in this situation. This is not an easy decision to make with any of our 4 legged family members. I read somewhere that putting an animal down is the last gift we can give them, to allow them to go in a dignified manner and be free of pain.
     
    07-10-2012, 10:42 AM
  #23
Foal
Thanks everyone for your support. I have 3 horses on the property, all are geldings. Tell has always been is own individual and prefers to stay away from others. Oh he will graze next to them, but if they move off or go back to barn, he does not follow or care. I have tried putting a bell on stall/paddock opening, but it only startles him to rush thru it, which could cause injuries. I do not keep halters on my horses during turnout, which is 24/7, so placing a bell on them impossible. My other two gelding always nicker to him when they are going in, so I know he knows.

Tell is adapting to his current stall/paddock. But he is not happy. I will give myself and him 4 months to decide and also to prepare . It is so dry here in Indiana that I can't dig the hole with bobcat until it rains a couple of inches.
     
    07-10-2012, 11:02 PM
  #24
Weanling
Then its time to let go. He obviously wants it if he doesnt repsond to any efforts. Maybe he's just giving up and trying to tell you its time.
I know its not easy and it never gets easier. But if you tell yourself he's better off and he will be at peace and no more pain or stress and even scared, and tell him you love him so much. Putting him down is showing him that you do love him.
I had a percheron stallion that died in my arms at a too young of age. I sat with his head in my arms as he took his last breath. I will never forget that day as long as I live But I do know he is shaking the heavens when he runs.
Good luck and god bless you and your horse

TRR
     
    07-10-2012, 11:04 PM
  #25
Weanling
Oh and by the way just for future ideas no halter is needed for bells they have ones that attach to manes like clips. Tiny bells not loud abnoxious bells lol. Anyways......
     
    07-10-2012, 11:31 PM
  #26
Green Broke
Just recently I had to put my Kody down.

A lot of people say that when its time you will know. Something I had often pondered the truth of, as the only horse I had put down previously the decision was pretty well made for me.

Kody had severed a tendon a few months earlier and we had been fighting together to get him healed. I had even raised the question of euthing him with some close friends. They had advised me to spend some quiet time with him and he would let me know one way or the other. I did, and I didn't get the feeling he was ready to go, but I couldn't help but doubt myself. Were my emotions getting in the way? Would he really let me know?

The morning I went out and found him in the very early stages of a colic, I knew. I have fought colic on several occasions in the past with other horses and pulled them through it. I called the vet for Kody and she loaded him up on drugs and seemed relatively optimistic.

I still knew it was time to let him go. He was practically speaking to me. I spent a few hours with him to be certain. I watched him laying down and trying to sleep. For the first time ever he let me approach him while he was laying down. I sat with him for a while and said my goodbyes. And then I called the vet back out and let him go.

The point of my long winded, emotional rambling is you WILL know. I doubted it right up until I saw Kody's eyes that morning. If you are asking the question, you know its getting close. Spend plenty of time with him and he will tell you when he's ready. Your job is to be strong enough to hear him and make the call.
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    07-11-2012, 01:33 AM
  #27
Weanling
I've only used bells when leading blind horses to grazing and exercise areas which were unfamiliar, and they were with someone at all times. I found it helped them a great deal under those conditions. But I wouldn't use them except for specific purposes and circumstances.

So since it doesn't sound like he's very bonded with your other two boys and likes to do his own thing, another companion may not help him. Hm. I think that a possible solution to picking up his spirits would be to spend extra time with him if you can, and since he's been a family member and riding horse for so many years, if you're able to have someone lead him and continue to ride him in a very limited but meaningful way for him, his having a purpose and remembering his days with you in the saddle may pick up his spirits, and you may even be able to get him to adjust to being ridden a little - it may in fact give him more confidence and cure some of his depression. He probably feels that he has no purpose or meaning now, and giving him something meaningful despite his limitations may be the trick (as well as spoiling him a little more than the others lol so he feels special rather than outcast because of his special needs). Even having a child seat him and be led around, anything to give him some meaning and something to look forward to on as regular a basis as possible.

If you want to sugar up his new living arrangement a bit by hanging a bizzy ball or pony pop in it once in awhile, he may ping off the stall walls a bit lol but it may pick up his spirits and take his mind off being depressed.

Blind horses can lead very useful, fulfilling and happy lives - I hope you can find the right ingredients to help him adjust. Most horses can and do, it may take some time, and if I can come up with any more strange or silly ideas I'll post them.
     
    07-11-2012, 02:07 AM
  #28
Trained
I think it is time to say your goodbyes, give him as many carrots as he'll eat, let him know how much you love him, thank him for all he has done for you, and then give him the greatest gift of all - allow him to slip away, pain free before his suffering grows.

I put my beloved Hugo down early this year, he was my pride and joy, I would still do anything to have him back, healthy. But after numerous, ongoing injuries - including arthritis in his hock (thanks racing, Hugo was only 10), he then slipped in the paddock and tore his suspensory ligament, and two weeks into stall rest, with his leg in a cast, he still managed to bow his tendon in the same leg.

I could have kept him in a stall, for months on end. But weighing it up, he was unhappy being confined, his hock was starting to swell again and he was starting to have trouble with the oposing foreleg.
It wasn't fair to keep him alive, for the selfish reason of me not being able to let go.

We must always bare in mind, that a horse does not have a concept of the future, nor the fear of death that human's have. He does not worry about what may happen in the future, he lives in the now. And if the now is uncomfortable, stressful, or painful, he is not going to be happy nor healthy. Putting him down will not hurt, it is over in an instant, he has no idea. He doesn't think that you are letting him down. If anything, he will probably be thanking you for easing his suffering, and providing with a long and healthy life.
It brings tears to my eyes to see ancient horses, riddled with arthritis, unable to gain weight and clearly sore and simply over it, standing around in paddocks or stables until they become some weak that they colic or die in an otherwise unsavoury manner. Horses don't tend to just pass quietly of old age, they will simply become so emaciated that eventually they will colic or bleed internally.
I could not put a horse through that, and will willingly lay my horses to rest well before they get to that point.
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    07-11-2012, 03:48 AM
  #29
Weanling
Response to Kayty:

The OP's horse isn't confined to a stall, from what she described he also has a safe paddock area as well.

Horses do have a concept of the future, and many have precognitive abilities as well. They are masters of routine, as well as the present, and the past.

They can and do fear death, it depends upon the circumstances.

Euthanasia criteria, one example:

Euthanasia of Horses

  • "Is the horse's condition chronic, incurable and resulting in unnecessary pain and suffering (1)? Some conditions, such as chronic laminitis with the pedal (coffin) bone protruding through the sole, are easier to assess than others. There is often no doubt as to the pain and suffering and the need for humane euthanasia to relieve current and future suffering.
  • Does the horse's condition present a hopeless prognosis for life (1)? Foals born with severely deformed limbs often have a hopeless prognosis for quality of life.
  • Is the horse a hazard to itself, other horses or humans (1)? Some horses can handle being blind and can get along within their own personal space but, in a herd situation, they may be savaged or injured by other horses or run into a fence or other physical hazard.
  • Is the horse constantly and in the foreseeable future unable to: move unassisted; interact with other horses; or to exhibit behaviours that may be considered essential for a decent quality of life (1)? Circumstances such as severe painful laminitis or arthritis, where horses spend much of their day lying down and are susceptible to bed sores and abrasions, are easier than others to assess quality of life.
  • Will the horse require continuous medication for the relief of pain and suffering for the rest of its life (1)?"


There are scores of horses with physical limitations and special needs who can and do lead quality lives and who may require special attention, extra care, and often additional expense. The OP's horse may need more time to adjust, he may not adjust, we don't know, only the owner does.

The owner has provided him with a safe and suitable environment for his condition, is noting his depressive state, is very familiar with his temperament and personality and taking those factors into consideration regarding his routine care under new circumstances, is alert to his physical condition and is noting some weight loss, and weighing out his prognosis based upon his current disposition and asking for some input. None of this gives me any impression whatsoever that the owner is either behaving selfishly or abusing her horse in any manner, nor intending to do so.
     
    07-11-2012, 09:31 AM
  #30
Trained
DR - I didn't say that the OP's horse was confined to a stall - I said MY horse was confined to a stall. I did not say that the owner is selfishly abusing her horse, I said that I could not put a horse through what SOME do, and allow a horse that is riddled with arthritis, losing drastic amounts of weight and has lost all will to live. This was not directed at the OP's exact situation. HOWEVER I do feel that if it has gotten to the point where the horse must be confined to remain safe, and the OP is starting to question whether euthanasia may be a consideration, then yes, I will tend to agree that it is time to act.

A horse does not know that you are going to put it down, it does not know that it is going to die. A horse's instinct, yes, is to fight to survive - hence their tendency towards the flight response to a situation. HOWEVER, euthanasia does NOT trigger this response, the horse does not have any idea.
     

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