It hurts my heart - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 07-30-2013, 04:15 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2012
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Unhappy It hurts my heart

I wasn't sure where to put this post, but since it hurts my heart the most I will post it in rider wellness. This isn't an easy post - I'm sorry for my question...

For the record, no I haven't talked with my vet quite yet - but will be shortly...

How do we, as owners, decide if it is the right time to put our friends down? Do we wait until they are in continuous pain - or do the deed ahead of time - and just know that their time is coming; there isn't anything else we can do to help and we want to remember them as happy and reasonably healthy?

Here is my situation: I have a lovely 28 year old mare, she has arthritis in her hocks and stifle, is lame at the canter and trot and just recently sometimes at the walk (basically she is getting progressively worse), she has a heart mumor, she has the grey horse lumps, she has a hard time locking her knees and hocks when she sleeps and sometimes falls over. She is on double doses of buteless, MSM, cortaflex, glucosamine and red cell. She is exclusively on nutrena senior feed 12lbs and hay cubes 10lbs- since she won't eat hay anymore. She wheezes bc of a lump near her throat. Her feed bill is becoming prohibative financially (about $350-400 a month). She is not ridden any more save for a few bareback rides in the pasture with a halter as a bridle. Winter is coming - and it gets cold and nasty here. Do I put my lovely arthritic mare through another cold winter knowing she will be in pain and come spring wont be any better then she is now or wait until early/mid fall and put her down remembering a happy horse playing in the pasture?

This is absolutly gut wrenching for me...
I know that no one can tell me how to handle this and I need to figure it out myself - I am just curious if others have had to make a similar decision and how did you handle it... Thanks in advance
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post #2 of 21 Old 07-30-2013, 04:23 PM
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I'd have put her down if she were my horse. She's already in pain and suffering, if she's really the way you've described.

28 is a ripe old age for a horse, and it sounds as if she's ready to go. It would hurt me more knowing I had the ability to relieve her suffering, yet kept her around for my own selfish reasons.

Better a month too soon than a minute too late, in my opinion.

You want the truth? You can't HANDLE the truth!
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post #3 of 21 Old 07-30-2013, 04:23 PM
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The way I look at things like this is in terms of quality of life.

Are you keeping the mare alive because you are attached to her? Or does she seem to have good quality of life (not in constant pain, able to run/play in the pasture, not having trouble eating)? If the answer to the first question is yes and the second, no, then it's time to let go.

I know how difficult it can be. I was there when one of my friends had to PTS their weimeriener due to Atkinson disease. He had no quality of life. He was having seizures multiple times per day, he could barely stand let alone walk, and he wasn't eating as much as he needed to. My friend let this go on until he finally had a seizure so bad it nearly killed him, then finally made the decision. She told me that she wished she would have ended his suffering sooner, but was just too selfish to do it.
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post #4 of 21 Old 07-30-2013, 05:08 PM
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My vet told me something very wise one time. I took him my old dog (who I'd grown up with) in because something told me she was sick and dying. After a short while he informed us that she was dying of kidney failure and that is was an aggressive form. While me and my mom debated over whether or not to put her to sleep the vet said that he would only put an animal to sleep when BOTH the people and animal were ready or the animal was in continuous pain with no chance of recovery. I can't tell you yes or no, I wish it were as simple as that.

In my opinion if your horse is doing bad mentally and just screams that she's ready to go then let her. If she's happy where she is despite her age and physical status then why not let her enjoy her time until she's ready to go? My dog wasn't ready, we brought her home and let her meander around wherever she wanted and when she lost control of her muscles carried her. We woke up one day soon after that and she had died in her sleep peacefully, at home with her family. I don't regret this decision because there was little to no pain (I had asked the vet and he said there would be just that), and it just felt like the way to end her story. It made grieving much easier for me.

The barn where I'm at there was an old arthritic horse that had a tumor in her throat and choked often. The BO refused to put her down because the horse still meandered a bit in the field, ate her special feed, had a light in her eyes and just didn't seem to want to go. One morning in the winter (ours get harsh too) she went out because the mare had been doing poorly and she was going to check on her, the mare was standing by the gate looking more miserable than ever and the lady knew it was time for her to go. The same woman's other horse is in his 30s, she considered putting him to sleep because she didn't know if he could make it another winter because he's arthritic, foundered and has cushings. She ultimately decided not to because she didn't feel like he was ready to go. He still chases horses in the field and runs up for dinner so she said when he's ready to go she'll have the vet out immediately.

You know your horse, you'll know when it's time regardless of the season. I had a lot of people criticize me for 'watching my dog die' and maybe I'm just odd in that way because I never thought I would do what I did until I did it. When the animal doesn't want to go and when you know this it gives you a strength to be with them till the very end. I can tell you from experience you'll always remember the good times and her playing in the fields.

Hope this helps in some way and good luck in whatever you decide.
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post #5 of 21 Old 07-30-2013, 05:12 PM
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I agree. I put down my 27yo QH, my 27 yo Arab ("Corporal") had a stroke, and my 35yo 13'2 pony, "Toma" just didn't want to go until the bitter end.
I think I know why--our horses and our dogs--our friends, and members of the family--can become very attached to us and they don't want to leave us. That makes it all the harder.
When "Ro Go Bar" had arthritis, stiff stifles, tooth loss and finally, an easy keeper that became a hard keeper, even with floating and Purina Equine Senior, I wasn't going to let him waste away. He deserved better.
You will know it was right, but you will have waves of grief for quite a while.
**hugs and prayers sent**

A Jack and Three Queens, the latest book by James C. Dedman,
Hope that you fall in love with "Trot", like I did!
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post #6 of 21 Old 07-30-2013, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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I thank you for your quick comments! I have tried to make her life as comfortable as possible. Hense the feed situation. She likes going out to pasture with my gelding and they only run if the scary deer jump the fence. Lol! She is off but not head bobbing lame. None the less both of your comments have confirmed my thoughts so i will be making that call to the vet sooner than later. Thanks again
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post #7 of 21 Old 07-30-2013, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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That is calling the vet for her opinion
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post #8 of 21 Old 07-30-2013, 07:14 PM
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Give your horse the best you have to offer -- release. {hugs}
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post #9 of 21 Old 07-30-2013, 07:34 PM
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I would never let an animal lose their dignity or suffer, funny how we do that to humans however. Your horse doesn't enjoy eating any longer? For me, that is my horse's dignity and being able to stand up and catch a few zzzz's without falling over.
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post #10 of 21 Old 07-30-2013, 09:08 PM
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I think you already know what is best for her. Her quality of life is quite compromised, and I think thats the way you have to look at it. If I owned her I would consider going over to the other side of the rainbow. She will be happy and healthy and go over to all the horses we have all lost at one point or another.

She is lucky to have someone who is willing to make her life better. I have no doubt she will appreciate being sent over to the other side. Never easy as a horse owner, but you're blessing her by allowing her to move on.

Promoting the beautiful Canadian Horse
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