There are many ways into a horse's mind and heart, these are some of my ideas ...

Friday, July 20, 2007


There comes a time when we must say goodbye to our beloved friend. I had this heart wrenching experience this past February when I had to have my best buddy put down. He had injured himself very badly and when the vet came he said that the colt could have an expensive operation which would fix him, but he would have poor quality of life, often being in pain or he could euthanase him humanely and the pain would be gone. I had him euthanased, as poor quality of life for an animal such as my boy was just not an option.

It is a hard call to make when one sincerely loves an animal and would like to spend a good number of years with that animal only to have fate take it away. I had plans and goals for my buddy and he was only four years old and just ready to begin life as an adult horse. It was a huge blow to me to have so much emotionally bound up in him for him to go that way. I could have opted for the operation, but he was a horse that was full of life and full of mischief and so very full of himself. Living on a special diet, being in pain on and off and really just a miserable existence and not a real life was just not an option. It is very hard, and there were many tears shed afterwards. To complicate things, because we live in a water catchment area, we are not allowed to bury large animals on our property. Finding someone to haul his body away was not easy, no one seemed to know who did it, whose responsibility it was or anything. The City Council, who should have known, had no idea, the vets had no idea and it was only on the recommendation of the Vetinary Hospital at Camden that we eventually found a person from out near Penrith who would come. And at a cost.

Doing it all while grieving a loss is not easy. It would be a nightmare to have to do it again.

Quality of life is very important. No one who really loves animals of any sort would deny this, yet often I hear of people who let their horses suffer the pain of colic without calling the vet. They sit with a very old horse while it dies rather than call the vet to do the right thing and ease it out painlessly. They also use the excuse that having a "stranger" euthanase their horse isn't an option, because it is bad enough it is dying without having a stranger administer a pain killer to do it.

My partner and myself were with my buddy when he died. We were the two humans who dealt with him every day, fed him, groomed him, played with him, trained him. I believe that as much as an animal can, he loved us as much as we loved him. He had certain neighs and nickering noises that were only ever used for us. We held him as he went down. Yet neither of us could have administered the drugs that the vet did. He certainly never liked vets, but he seemed to know that this vet was helping him, relieving his pain into a sleep. He would never have known he would not wake up, only that the pain was gone, his beloved humans were with him and he was asleep.

The important words here: THE PAIN WAS GONE.

It is hard enough for any creature to die. To die in pain when it can be relieved is just not on. If we can relieve the pain, I believe it is our humane duty to do so. Yeah, okay, the vet needs his bill paid and that can be a bitch. But humaneness is more important at the time. Maybe it is time you went and had a talk to your vet and got to know her/him and herhis accounting practices - will s/he allow you time to pay off bills. If s/he wont, is there another, competent vet in your district who will?

But if you have difficulty paying vet bills, maybe you should reconsider the need to keep animals. You wouldn't deny your children, who are also dependent on you, medical care. Why should you deny your animals? I know this is harsh, but you have to be realistic - for their sake.

If you "love" your animals, and find it hard to part with them, maybe you also need to re-examine your definition of love.

Animal welfare is critical to good animal husbandry.

If you look in my sidebar there is a link to my other blog where I have dealt in more detail with issues of animal welfare.

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