Long story coming your way. Feel free to skip to the bottom for the TLDR version.
I think we all know in the back of our heads that eventually euthanasia is something we may need to deal with when owning animals of any sorts. I've been lucky enough to never have to make 'the call' so far with any of my animals (short of a very sickly stray cat) until now. And now has come about 25 years sooner than I would have hoped with this particular horse.
Quick back story is I found the colt of my dreams just over a year ago and brought him home at 7 months old. A beautiful black colt with an exquisite mind. The best mind on any horse (young and old) that I've met in my years being in horses...truth be told, as crazy as this will probably make me sound, it feels like he's been here before; an old soul, no doubt in my mind. August of last year I was faced with the most devastating diagnosis of a spinal cord injury. Call it Wobbler's syndrome if you like. My colt has the same symptoms, vet and I talked of the same surgery for the condition, this is the best way for me to describe his condition. He was nearly recumbent at the time of the injury and is now likely a 3 - 3.5 on the neurological scale after 6 months of nearly complete confinement.
Here's more back story of what was going on, later in the picture thread, so not to drag this thread on too badly: New colt!
Now, I'm faced with a coming 2 year old stallion who is, though mostly extraordinarily well behaved, becoming increasingly agitated and excited (so the teeth and hooves come out). He cannot be gelded due to his condition (he cannot undergo any kind of anaesthesia or tranquillizers as he is already unstable on his feet) and I can't find a vet who would consider trying (not that I've honestly asked - they've all just agreed with me that it is unsafe when i mention such). Therefore, handling is an issue - proper discipline for bad behaviour is difficult in the event that he recoils and falls. Also, being cooped up for 6.5 months...when he gets to go in the arena on a halter and line it is like flying a 900b kite with testosterone that might crash into a wall or fall at any time. Completely dangerous. He cannot be turned out as he will trip and fall on uneven footing. Rain will cause slips and falls...perhaps into the fence, or a shed, and he may break a leg or get attacked by a pack of coyotes while down. I refuse to risk coming out to the field to find him down in any of those situations - it is not fair to him to go through that. Though perhaps worst case scenario, those are all real possibilities I've discussed with many people. Not to mention that I'm sure he would feel very insecure because his legs don't work correctly and he can't have a herd to protect him (in the event that he is chased....he'll fall), which would probably eat away his confidence. Further, he has a half brother with the same condition - likely a genetic condition that predisposed them to this injury in some way. We didn't make the link until my colt presented the condition a few months after his older brother.
He's been locked away in hopes of healing enough to be close to 'normal' and able to handle turnout. My vet had said you never know how well they will recover until you take the time to let the injury heal, so I took the time and sadly we have decided he will not get better than he is now. His recovery has been plateaued for months. Now that I can see that he will not recover any further and will never be able to handle any sort of turnout (alone or in a herd), it is not fair to keep him locked away much longer...
He is an unbelievably exquisite animal. Truly my heart horse in every way. Now I need to make the call to let him go peacefully and with dignity - not in a field with a broken leg and being attacked by wild animals. I know this is best for him in the long run. What quality of life is it to live in a box or in danger outside? I need to make the call to the vet. I know what I want to happen for arrangements but I just can't make that call and I don't know how to. I think I'm waiting to feel okay with the decision which will only come after some time, I'm sure.
Does anyone have some advice on how to make the call? How to cope with letting him go just as his life is starting? I feel like hearing from others who have dealt with euthanasia might help...I don't really know. It's so hard to make the call to the vet when I look at him standing in his box eating, happy, looking perfectly normal, until he moves and he's anything but normal...
TLDR: I have a coming 2 y/o colt with a spinal cord injury resulting in a permanent condition of instability on his feet. Basically Wobbler's syndrome. It is best to euthanize him, for his long term quality of life and also for the safety of myself and those who may have to handle him in the future. But I just can't make the call and don't know how to cope. Looking for advice on how to cross over the barrier and make the call and how to cope with losing my heart horse so young.
Thanks for reading.