Friday, December 19, 2008

The Tough Question

The more the problems in the horse industry unfold, the more a person has to ask themselves "the tough question"...Should I put this horse to sleep?

There are black and white times when a person has to make this decision. It doesn't usually make it any easier, but we can justify it and live with our decision. As was the case for my little mare, Okie...

This morning I had Okie put to sleep. It was the best thing for her. Sad...but bearable. And, while I don't know how politically correct it is to say this...it brought a deep sense of relief. I have worried about her welfare for some time and now the worry is relieved. I know that she cannot be in pain or suffer the effects of the next frigid weather headed our way.

I know most people will understand and sympathize...but there is always someone who wonders if it was necessary? Wasn't there something else I could have done? Yes, I suppose I did have options. I could have brought her to town, put her in a small pen and fed her....for the rest of her natural life. With daily care, she could have lived another 10-15 years. Because she was just a youngster really. She was only 10. But maintaining a horse that cannot benefit anyone? Believe me, I though of other options-the pasture pet market is gone and she was not a kid's horse. Most of all, I worried that if I actually found someone else that promised to take care of her, that she would come to a bad end. That is something that would have eaten at me.

More and more we see ads for horses like Okie...Horses with problems that people are trying to find homes for. What they are really looking for is someone else to take over making the decision for them. As responsible horse owners/breeders WE are going to have to start making the decisions ourselves. It is no longer profitable to dump unwanted, not quite perfect horses at an auction or rescue and kid yourself that someone else will give it a good home. I think these people have every right to advertise their horses...sometimes you just never know who might be looking...but when there are no takers???

The time of the Old Cowboy philosophy is dying and now the New Wave horseman philosophy is going to have to come to an end too. There is no longer enough homes or enough knowledgeable horse people left to take care of the number of horses in this country. People are going to have to love and appreciate their horses for what they mean to them and they are going to have to start realizing that no one else wants their problems. They are going to have to be the ones to deal with making sure that their horses don't suffer. They are going to have to be the ones making the decision and asking themselves "the tough question".

Rest in Peace my sweet little girl. I will miss your beautiful face!!

25 comments:

Mikey said...

So sad, but I hear where you're coming from. I think it was the right thing to do. Tough day for you :(
I like what you said too about people just wanting someone to make the decision for them. Mercy's old rope horse, he's 25 this year. We got him from Wade's parents in CO, the idea being that he would do better down here (and he does). But.. I think they didn't want to be the ones to put him down eventually. We love him, and he's a great horse for Mercy, but within the next 5 years we'll have to make that decision. I hate doing it, I really do.
Thoughts and prayers with you today.

Melanie said...

Oh BEC...I am sorry that you had to make this decision. I think that you are one tough cookie! Arriving here today, I obviously had to scroll down and see what the heck has been going on,and I am completely shocked.

Just know that even if you don't have the support of your family right now, you do have the support of your blogging buddies. :) What you did was admirable, and it shows that you are a responsible horse owner...plain and simple.

Now, about that favorite child comment...you hit the nail on the head!!! My parent's favorite child is the dumbest, simplest, and least complicated child out of all of us (there are four of us), and I am always amazed that my parent's think that her accomplishment of getting a new hair cut, is comparable to walking on the moon.

Anywho...I am the black sheep of my family too, so you have my complete support! :)
Just remember that this too shall pass...

Mrs Mom said...

My thoughts are with you friend. And you are bang on in your post.

Must be something in the air today- my best friend lost one of her ponies today too- to penile cancer. Just got off the phone with her. Going to go out and hug on Sonny for a moment, and thank my lucky stars that he is OK... and think of Oakie and Best Friends pony...

Hugs to you..

ezra_pandora said...

That's a hard decision to make on a sick horse (we had to euth our gelding that colicked) let alone one that doesn't really have sickness issues but is in pain another way.

If you think about it, it can be the same way with humans too. When you get old and have to be kept alive on ventilators and such, do you pull the plug or keep hoping that something will help one day?? And even the other scenario of a person with alzheimers, no one wants to make the decision to put them in a nursing home, but it has to be made by SOMEONE.

You are a very strong person.

ranchette said...

Sorry to hear about your Okie. It's a hard decision to have to make, but you made it for the right, sound reasons. Sorry it's been such a rough week.

cdncowgirl said...

**hugs** I think you made the right decision. Not that that makes it an easier.
What you wrote today sums it up very well. I agree that a lot of times when horses with "issues" are sold it is a way for the person to escape making the hard choices.
And yes Okie may have lived for quite a few years, but at what quality of life? That has to count for something too and it is, IMO, not much of a life for a horse that's used to the freedom of acres to room to live out her life in a small pen.

kdwhorses said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I too agree with everything you said in your post. It was a hard decision to be made, but one we all have made or will have to in the future.

We have a 25 year old horse and he is still going strong, but starting to show his age and I dread the day we have to make that decision, it is never a easy one.

Know that we love you out here in bloggerville and sending you our thoughts, hugs and prayers this day. Know she is no longer in pain and can rest peacefully.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

So sorry, BEC. I think that when we put animals to sleep, we always doubt ourselves. I put my old Labrador down today, so I know what you're going through. As I was driving him to the vet to be euthanized, I kept questioning my timing. What if he'll get better like he did a few weeks ago? Then he collapsed on the waiting room floor and I had to pick him up to get him into the examining room. The vet even had a hard time trying to walk him out of there even with an abdominal sling. Obviously, the time was right, and I'm feeling relieved that he's in a better place now.

Andrea said...

Wow Okie was a beautiful mare!! All your horses look ao nice. It was a good choice. She is probably a lot happier now running around like crazy. I bet the winter ground really would have been hard on her. It was a really responsible choice. I am sorry for your loss.

Tammy said...

You've made a terribly difficult but wise & responsible decision. I hope if necessary, I can show the same strength. Okie was beautiful. You took care of her to the end.

20 meter circle of life said...

My thoughts are with you. You did the right thing and she knows it. Be thankful for the time that you had, and give Shooter a kiss.
take care and gods speed

Reddunappy said...

I have only ever had to put one pony down, she coliced. This has been in the forefront of my thoughts lately too. I have a 19 year old mare that all of a sudden this spring her knees blew up, and I dont know why,artheritis probably. she does not seem to be in much if any pain, she was running around bucking and kicking, with no limp the other day in the snow and mud like she was a youngster, but.... I dont know how much longer she will be comfortable, she is fat and healthy otherwise and I have ridden her lightly with no problems,she also is not a kids horse. what do you do, I applaud you being able to make the decision.

Rising Rainbow said...

I know how hard this decision is to make......I have one myself looming over my head. When is the right time? Only if I had a crystal ball to know. That's part of the agonizing is wondering if it's too soon or too late. I just so understand the struggle you've gone through here.

I would never send this mare off to someone else, even though I have had offers. I'm with you about the responsibility. She's mine and I know it.

Hang in there my friend!

Leah Fry said...

Doesn't matter what kind of animal, or — dare I say it — person. The fact is, when someone we love has lost the quality of life or we're watching it slipping away, we begin to worry and wonder. How long? Will they just go to sleep (we hope) or linger on? Can I afford or am I able to care for them?

I recently had to say goodbye to a cat I'd had for 17 years who was just wasting away. By the time the decision had to be made, I had already been worrying about him and crying over his loss for at least 2 years. Of course, I was immensely sad when he was gone, but the sense of relief was huge. I was actually surprised that I wasn't more upset, but I had grieved for him.

My poor mother just lost her second husband who was gravely ill and getting worse. He died a horrible, painful death, basically brought on by modern chemistry designed to keep him alive. He was close to being completely incapacitated. Though she never talked about it, I know my mom was really concerned as to her ability, both physically and financially, to care for him. She really loved that man and confessed her relief to me, asking if that made her a bad person. Of course not.

I'm not going into the whole human euthanasia issue. My point is that it's okay to feel relief that a loved one, whether human or animal, has passed from pain and worry. With an animal, we have the advantage of being able to release them before they ever reach the point of unbearable suffering.

You made a decision from the vantage point of love and responsibility. Your heart was in the right place. I'm so sorry for your loss.

SunnySD said...

Hey BEC, thanks for stopping by to check on us Easterners - with all you've had going on, I appreciate it.

I read your last post and looked up at a picture of our old mare Schelah. It's a bad picture, but it's Schelah as she looked her last few years - dropped ankles and a little on the thin side. No ribs showing, but we had a hard time keeping weight on her, which wasn't a bad thing given her arthritis. She lived to 28, but I'm not sure how pleasant her last years were, and my folks finally made the decision not to let her suffer through one more Michigan winter. I've had to make the call on a couple of others through the years. Never an easy thing to do, but I think you're right - the tough question comes to us eventually. As others above have said, I'm so sorry for your loss.

As for weather - the blizzard warning arrived with snow. We have a semi-whiteout this morning, cold, and lots of wind. I think we're only supposed to get about 3" though, so we'll be able to creep our way out to feed later - at least I'm crossing my fingers. 13' is feeling awful warm these days.

Trailboss said...

I feel that it truly took courage to decide to let her go. There are so many people that would have tried to make a 'buck' in situation like this and the horse is the one that suffers. I can relate in a way not about a horse but about my beloved boxer dog. She is only 7 and has terminal cancer. My husband and I will watch and listen to HER and she will decide when she has had enough. At that time we will let her go because as you know, it is not fair to the animal to keep them here just for us.

She is indeed running free with many other horses right now and looking down at you and saying a quiet "thanks Mom." I truly believe that.

Adventures Of A Horse Crazed Mind said...

I am sorry that you had to face this difficult decision alone (without your mothers support). I have been reading your blog for a good while now and have, day by day, built a healthy respect for you as a horsewoman but never so much as today. A lot of people can talk the talk but when it comes down to walking the walk, they bow out! Things like this are what prove ones real dedication towards the responsibility we take on as livestock managers or "pet owners". No matter how simple (like having an old animal that is "ready to go" put to sleep), or how complicated (as in cases like these where you have a younger, healthy animal) the individual case may be, making that decision always weighs you down with "what ifs" and "maybes" that make you feel like you are trying to play God... personally, I didn't find it a very comfortable role but it was a necessary one. I commend you for doing what you had to do! I agree with you that times have changed and with it, the way that we have to deal with horses like these. It is not easy, but it IS the RIGHT thing to do (IMHO).

Bless you. C.

Vaquerogirl said...

God Bless you for having the courage of your convictions. You hit the nail on the head about a lot of folks letting someone else make the decisions for their animals! I think that is just cheap, and unfair. As the horsewoman I know you are, you weighed your options, added in the love and care, subtracted the quality of life and came up with the correct decision for you and for your mare.
I am sorry for your loss, but I wish everyone could be as dedicated as you. That is the kind of thing that no one- not Parelli or Lyons or Reid or anyone else can teach about horsemanship.
PS- How is your Mom taking it?

Beth said...

ooh...I am so sorry. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Amanda said...

Sorry for your loss> I had to have a navicular 8 year old QH mare put down a couple last year. The sweetest horses i ever met. I had her examined at WSU and they said her navicular bones were the consistancy of cornflakes. But they did give me the option of cutting the nerves to her feet and gaining a bit more time with her but it would just be postponing the inevitable. I had her put down.
It broke my heart but I know I did the right thing. That does not make it any easier though, you just have to do it and move on.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Just wanted to send a few supportive words your way. Its not easy being responsible. I have felt the relief you speak of as well.

Jen

KD said...

Kudos to you for doing what you knew to be the right thing for your horse. A peaceful ending for your girl.

PaintedPromise said...

wow BEC big hugs... it is never easy is it? somehow young is harder... at least for me. our old guy, hey, he had a long long life. still hard to say goodbye but at least he had his time...

but you are so right about the state of things today. we do NEED to be responsible for our animals...

Stephanie said...

I am sorry you had to say goodbye to your mare hun...

Everyone else has done a good job putting into words my thoughts and feelings, you made the right choice - it would take a real heartless soul to give a hard time over it.

I saw your picture of her then, before reading your post, in my mind saw her.....busting loose and running down a meadow up to her knees in lush grass on the other side of the rainbow bridge...

Cheryl said...

We had to put our German Shepherd, Maverick, to sleep about 6 years ago. He had hip displaysia (sp?) and was dragging his hind legs behind him and it was TIME. I cried for weeks. I still miss him, but I know he isn't in pain any more. It is never easy, but sometimes it IS the best thing to do for them.