Tough Situation. Ugg.
I have a fellow boarder in a tough situation. I don't know the best way to deal with this.
I've sold horses for years, which is where this all started.
The boarder is very young, and was given a well broke older gelding. The problem is he is too small for her, and he is crippled from arthritis. I have not seen him move normally once in 6 months. He is on glucosamine, has to have senior feed (5lb a day plus soaked beet pulp) and free choice hay plus be blanketed to keep weight on.
His owner can only afford one horse. She had no idea what she was getting into taking him on. She is overweight with no self confidence, desperately seeking love and approval from some thing, in this case having a horse to trail ride on. She has a really hard time being the only one that can't come on trails.
There is no other horse on the farm for her to ride.
For a long while I have known this horse is older, uncomfortable, and the decision of when to euthanize would have to be made.
The big problem is his owner thinks there is someone out there that wants an old, unridable, crippled, high maintenance gelding that will need to be out down in the near future, and wants to rehome him.
How do you explain to a young girl that the best option is likely euthanasia ? There is no where else for him to go?
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I'd have a confidential chat with her vet......vets are better than anyone at delivering that kind of news.....
As a veterinarian, and from my own experience, having her vet talk to her may well be a very good option. I have that conversation with owners on a regular basis, and frankly, it IS something that takes some practice to get good at. Not that your intentions are bad at all, but hard news like that can be tough to take and tough to give, and having experience makes it much more likely to go well... or at least go well enough that everyone feels comfortable and knows they're making the best choice for the animal. If you do decide you are the one to discuss the issue, be patient, be gentle, and focus on the fact that while making this decision may be very painful for us, it is also a very noble and kind thing to do for our dear friends who can no longer be helped in other ways.
Having the vet talk to her is a good idea. Also, if she is that young.. how about bringing her parents into the equation?
That being said there are a LOT of animal owners out there (and I have seen a few here on this forum) who seem to not know when to make this decision.. they do surgeries and treatments and spend lots of money on horses that would be far better served to be euthanized. I have seen even worse in dog and cat owners.. where they cannot let go. It is no longer about the animal.. it is about themselves.. and it can be horrific.
This young girl sounds like she needs a lot more help beyond having a horse affirm she is worthy and loveable... she needs to learn how to find that affirmation within herself. I hope sooner than later for her.. for her life.. for her future.
I agree that the vet would be the best option. They have experience and have seen enough horses in all manner of situations where their words have more weight than that of a fellow boarder. I would offer to be there for the girl. If she does decide to euthanize please don't let her see the procedure. It will give her nightmares. If you are comfortable with it, tell her that you will be with her horse during the procedure so it has a friendly face.
It sounds as though euthanasia is the best option for the horse... and the girl wants a horse to ride. Is there any way to get an appropriate horse lined up for her, even if it is just to work with? Everyone is different, but the void of having no animal where there once was one is very painful. Less painful if there is another fuzzy face to deal with, right away. But, everyone is different, and this may not be an option anyway.
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