Filed in Category: Misc
Putting A Horse Down
I have a rather difficult question for you regarding my friend Sandi’s 33 year old horse (Boo) and her young horse, Talic. Talic has been with Boo since he was weaned, and is very attached to him. Boo is not going to last much longer, although he is incredible for his age, Sandi has had a scare with him tonight and wants to make plans for the inevitable. Sandi has a Shetland pony that she can put in a paddock next to Talic but they haven’t been close before. Her problem is when Boo needs to be euthanized, is it best to allow Talic to see it happen and to be able to sniff the body, or do you remove him and shelter him from it all? You may not know the answer to this, but I’m guessing that you have had too much experience in this regards over the years. What’s your experience with your horses and their older mentors, or paddock mates? Do you have any advice for Sandi on how to go about things? There is probably no set answer to this but she needs some support and advice at this difficult time. I’m sorry that I have to ask about this as it is always a difficult area to discuss.
It's good to hear from you. I hope I get a chance to see you in October when I'm down for clinics and lessons.
I have been the sad position of needing to euthanize a few horses in my life. I have never thought it necessary for a companion horse to be able to see their friend put down and then be allowed to sniff the body. Because I almost always have had a horse shot by a professional, I lead the horse away from the others to a safe area. The other horses never see their friend again.
It is sad, but I think it is more sad for us than it is for horses. I have seen horses grieve, but I wonder if it is no more than because their life has changed rather than the departure of a friend. A bit like weaning. I don't think horses dwell of losing their mate. But I do think they can be upset at the change in their routine and the sense of herd that the other horse gave them.
I don't have an answer for you. I can only tell you my interpretation of my experiences. But who really knows what horses feel and what is best in cases like this?