Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's Not All Fairy Tales And Rainbows

Amidst all of the over the top good news I have had these last few days...

I have made the decision to take Queen home and put her to sleep. Not the end result I was hoping for when I so blissfully loaded her up at the ranch and hauled her to Colorado with me.

I wasn't exactly blind to how I thought things would start off with her...she earned her reputation. But, I really thought that she would settle back into being a respectable saddle horse after her initial I-am-a-rank-bronc persona got smoothed out.

She has had plenty of time to come off of the "sugar rush"(as someone described it in the comments) of eating the feeder cattle's grain. And she still wants to be a rank be-otch.

To make matters worse-she has become nearly impossible to catch and is making Frosty charge around like an idiot whenever I go to the pen to catch one of them. Moon, who has always been a bit difficult to catch is the only one who doesn't run around like an idiot.

I can't have it...I won't have it. To let a super sweet and people loving horse like Frosty get turned into an idiot because his mother is? I don't think so!

She was saddling pretty decently for a few days there. I ponied her, moved her around and stepped up and down in the stirrup. The last day I did that, she absolutely lost her mind and blew up.

I stood there and watched her and decided right at that moment that it is not worth getting hurt trying to ride this mare. I finally have my barrel horse back. Frosty is showing great potential to be a super nice horse and may even make a good barrel horse. And I don't think I...at nearly 40 years old...have to prove that I can do something that I probably shouldn't have wasted my time on when I was in my 20's?!

Short of good horses with great minds and great potential I am not. Why risk everything on one old(er) mare who has been a raging beast her entire life?

Don't get me wrong. I feel really badly about this decision. I have loved this mare from the moment I set eyes on her as a newborn foal. It feels like a rotten thing to do actually. She is only 16 and in very good health. So why not just take her back to the ranch and let her live out the rest of her life?

Well, because at some point...I will have to put her to sleep. Whether that is 10 years down the road or next week. That will be the end result for her. So why let her stand there and eat 10 years worth of grass, knowing that she will never be ridden, never have a baby and most likely never be caught again? It doesn't make any sense to wait. At least not to me.

Somewhere along the line, this "horse" thing has to make at least a little sense right?

I don't raise horses as an investment. I don't ever really expect to make any money on horses. I have them because I cannot imagine my life without them. I have them because I love to think about them, look at them, touch them and smell them. But being a selfish human, I do expect a little bit in return. I expect to be able to handle them without unnecessary uncertainty and I expect to be able to at least ride them without unnecessary fear of injury or death. I figure if I can't do it...I sure as heck don't think anyone else is going to want to try either.

So tomorrow, with a heavy heart and a firm decision...I'll load my beautiful, crazy girl up and haul her home for the final time. The least I can do for her is to lay her to rest on the ranch where she was born and spent a good majority of her life. Actually, it's the best I can hope to do for any of my horses when their time comes.

24 comments:

Sydney said...

This is a hard descision but you are making a very wise one. No horse is worth breaking your baby finger over. With the way the economy is it's very unselfish of you to do this. Euthanizing a pet has to be the loneliest feeling in the world but it does pass. Stay strong.

cdncowgirl said...

(big hug)
I know you didn't make this decision lightly. And even though I'm sure it will pi$$ off a few people too bad. I think I would be making the same decision.
Horses are NOT cheap animals to keep, even on the lowest maintenance possible. Plus in your mare's case there is always the risk of someone getting it in their fool head to mess with her. Its just not worth the risk.
The only horse I currently own that has a free pass to live out their days is my mare. She has earned it. She was my only horse for years and did (or tried) anything I asked of her.

I know your heart will be heavy but at least you know that you have some support. Being a good owner includes making the tough decisions.

Paint Girl said...

I am so sorry that you had to make this decision. That has to be one of the most difficult ones to make. But know that you are doing the right thing for your horse and for you. She could hurt you or someone else. You did what you could. Again, I am very sorry!

City girl turned Country Girl said...

Well I totally respect your decision, you know horses well enough to know if one is "fixable" and if you don't feel she is right then you have no other choice.. And it definitely is NOT worth getting hurt over. I'm so sorry that you have to go through this.. I'll be thinking of you and Queen today as she finds her final resting spot. Thank you for being a responsible horse owner, to many people don't make the right decisions because they are selfish and you clearly are not!

Anonymous said...

I think you are so much wiser and careing with this horse than a lot of people would be. You are doing the right thing. This is much better than selling her and then her life become a life of abuse or getting send to slaughter. This is shard for you but it is the best decision, my thoughts are with you.

Laura said...

Oh no - what a tough decision to have to make. Like the others said, you didn't make the decision lightly - I'm sure you are doing what is best for you and the mare.

sue said...

I have made this sort of decision with the dogs that I rescue.. and it's a tough one for sure. I can remember one time when I chose to put a three year old, beautiful black cocker down for biting issues, one person in particular had a lot to say about that.. and I said to them, "well, you take him and live with that".. their answer was, "I can't have a dog that bites!! " well --- dugh!!! neither could I, or the rest of the world for that matter. Thousands of dogs go down, simply because there are "too many".. so one that is dangerous.. well, decision made!!! so, (as if you need my approval).. I totally understand where you are coming from, and just want to wish you all the best.....

Breathe said...

It's tough to end a life, and even tougher to be the one that makes the choice. No one would argue if you were putting down a dog that was biting kids.

Not much difference, I suppose.

Angie said...

I totaly understand and respect your decision. It is a tough one but I believe it is definantly right. I was really hoping she would improve after having her feed problem fixed, bummer.

Adventures of a Horse Crazed Mind said...

You know where I stand on this issue (having been there myself)and so I can only say that I commend you for making the tough decision and facing the reality of the situation rather than skirting the issue or passing the buck.

With that being said I really apprecaite that you had the courage to come out and say it like it is without apologizing for it (like I (wrongly) do!) as it is your animal, your choice, your conscience, and your responsibility. I think that if more people just stood up and said it like it is (as you have) we (horsemen) would all feel more comfortable in knowning that tough decisions like these are not uncommon and that while not everyone will agree with you, there are plenty of us good hearted horse lovers that will.

*pat on the back*

for making the tough call...

and a *hug* because I know it wasnt easy.

Michelle said...

What a horrible position to be put in. Well, I agree with what the others have said. If you are comfortable with the decision you have made, then at least you are doing it responsibly. It still sucks though, I'm always looking for the sunshine and rainbows. It's hard to reach the point where you realize that's all a mirage.

nebraska gal said...

what a harsh thing to be doing guess I would have a hard time doing this as she has been good to you right but guess I am a softy I would let her retire in the ranch

Mikey said...

Yep. I hear ya. Wish you'd come pick up my little bucker too. Same thing. Why am I feeding this animal that I'm absolutely sure will kill someone someday? Can't sell her that way.
Not worth the time and effort. Sad to say, I've lost all my youthful illusions about every horse being worth saving. They're not, and some are just plain too dangerous to waste time dealing with. Amen sister, you're doing the right, responsible thing.

Leah Fry said...

Only you can know the right thing to do in your situation, and I totally respect it. A person with less integrity would try to sell her and let it be someone else's problem.

SunnySD said...

Sad to hear and a hard decision to have to make. But far kinder and more ethical in the long run. Virtual hugs for moral support - I'll be thinking of you.

~The South Dakota Cowgirl~ said...

I'm sorry that you have to do this; I suppose making the decision to euthanize her is probably the best thing if she's going to try to kick your head in or buck every time you get on her.

I do absolutely 100% believe, however, that a hard to catch horse is usually the making of the individuals that handle the horse; a horse only knows how to be a horse. I have seen horses that used to take hours to catch in a small pen, now be caught in a 1000 acre pasture. So some of that is probably your responsibility as a horseman to solve. Reading a horse is something that is vital to catching. Like Ray Hunt always says, it's not about catching them, it's about getting them ready to be caught.

Danielle Michelle said...

Dude that'sw a tough one, but I agree with you. If you aren't getting anything out of her, and she's dangerous it isn't worth it. I have one like that too. She is unpredictable and a serious threat to anyone on her back. She throws some great babies, and I'm still keeping her for breeding stock every other year or so, but Iknow that time will come when I have to decide. If I don't have the space or money I definetely won't dump her off on another person.

You're making the right choice. And the responsible one!

spellbound said...

As many others have said, you are making the right (but really tough) choice. It seems as if you have really tried and tried with her. I commend you for taking on the responsibility and not trying to pawn off the problem onto some unsuspecting buyer like some people would.

Anonymous said...

Godspeed to you in this tough situation. Had to do it myself last year with a horse I loved, raised, broke, won money on, and then (insert kick to own butt here) sold. She developed a very dangerous behavior (I still find it hard to believe it wasn't a physical problem but we couldn't find the problem) and I got her back and put her down. She acted so broke - she was! But soooo dangerous to a rider! I couldn't take the risk of keeping her and having some yahoo try to get on her. I also couldn't stand the though of her being abused for something I'm positive she wasn't doing on purpose. So she came home and met a peaceful end. Some folks still don't understand what I did, but it was the right thing, I feel.

Andrea said...

What a very hard decision to make. Not easy at all. But by the sounds of it you are doing what is right for her. You can feel good knowing that you really tried everything. And you will have Frosty to work with, her legend. Sending you some big (((HUGS)))) because I know it's not easy. We have a mare that we are going to start riding and if she can't stay sound then my husband and I are going to be making a similar decision. But on the bright side, when you go home you get to see Megan!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Thank you guys so much for your kind and supportive comments. Things are a changing for us horse people. Considering what I've seen happening across the country...I'd rather put every horse I own to sleep rather than dump them on the market. I know there are good horse owners out there...look at all of you! But people are struggling right now and with what's available(good horses for cheap, cheap, cheap), I would never feel good about Queen's future in someone else's hands. What would they do to her to make her come around? What would she do to them to protect herself? No doubt where she would eventually end up!

Besides, we never really raised any of these horses to sell anyway. They were all pretty much intended to be "lifers". Way too many breeders in this area raising mediocre crap that their sole intention is for public auction.

They are all screaming because the killer market is "gone"...so what does that mean? They are only raising babies intended for slaughter?

No, the fact is, even when you only try to raise a few really good ones, you are still going to end up with a few that don't work out. Better off to bite the bullet, so to speak, and put the less than good ones down. The whole point is to make each generation stronger than the last.

I had toyed with the idea of simply turning Queen back out to pasture and dealing with this another time...sometime in the future(procrastination is my middle name), but after talking to my brother...I don't think so. Queen has always linked up with her own get in the pasture, particularly her daughter, Beauty. The two of them are a nasty team. They pick on the other horses and have a way of keeping everyone in an uproar. Beauty without Queen around is an absolute sweetheart and doesn't bother anyone. No-better to NOT put the troublesome old hag back in with the rest of the mob.

~The South Dakota Cowgirl~ said...

I'll tell you why people (breeders) are screaming about the killer market being gone- it's because the killer market sets the floor on prices- and the floor is really really low right now, so breeders that aren't breeding mediocre horses (such as us- who breed horses that are born gentle enough for a moron to train and that rarely even offer to buck when started) are either letting our good, safe, kid-friendly, mother approved horses that three years ago would have brought $7500 at auction/or through private sales, are now having to either hold on to them (which we have the means to do) or we have to let them go for pennies on the dollar. That's why people are pissed. There are a few people that raise horses for the killer market but not many. And there are some that I'd send- those that are like the mare you described above. I'd just as soon the horse go to serve a purpose.

I'm sure everyone here will lambaste me now for these comments, but I don't really care. I think the killer market is necessary. A horse is horse. Not a human. And when we quit personifying them, it's not hard to see why it's needed.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

I don't think lambasting is going to happen SD Cowgirl.

But saying that closing the slaughter plants is the only reason the horse market is uber soft right now is overly simplistic. Slaughter prices were soft years before the US plants closed. And if you guys were getting $7500 for gentle using horses 3 years ago, you were so far above the killer market that I don't know how you could ever consider that your base price. As far back as a decade ago, I could buy propects out of loose sales for $300-500. That is the kind of horses the killer market was a base for.

No-the sheer over production of horses, the dwindling supply of reasonably priced, good trainers, the rising cost of even basic care and the tanked economy has more to do with why the price of good riding horses has plummeted than the US kill market being gone. Cause if you really think about it...horses are still going to kill at the same rate they were before.

I absolutely believe that equine slaughter is a viable and valuable option. However, people took sides and nothing was ever accomplished in terms of bringing that industry in line with people's current sentiments about horses. However much we want to consider them livestock...they are not cows, or sheep, hogs or chickens. They require different handling and transportation and until the pro-slaughter advocates start dealing with those issues and working to make them better and more equine oriented...people who might be okay with horses as meat are still not going to get all the way behind the pro-slaughter stance. We will simply deal with the disposal of our unwanted/old/crippled/culls by putting them to sleep.

Believe me, I miss the days of when we simply called the local KB, he came to the house, loaded up the horse(s), wrote us a check and hauled them straight to the kill plant. It was simple, effective and not overly traumatic on the horse. Perfect scenario as far as I am concerned.

Anonymous said...

It did make me feel a bit better when the horse went to kill and served a purpose, and the feeling was not just the $ from the kill buyer. We are lucky to be able to bury here, but I feel for those who are where it isn't allowed. The renderer in our area no longer picks up horses. I think of how many horses that need to meet their end for whatever reason and wonder how long before there isn't anywhere to bury them.