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Helping you say goodbye

Almost as important as knowing when to make the decision is knowing how you will go about it. Although unpleasant to think about, it is vital to consider your options and have contact numbers ready in advance.

If you can think about this side of things whilst your horse is happy and healthy, it will make life easier when this is no longer the case.

In most cases there are two options to consider: one is having the horse shot and the other is lethal injection. The method may be decided by the circumstances, but if you have a choice there are two things to remember:

  • The first is that, unlike smaller animal, it's unlikely that a horse will be lying down when it is put down, which means that with either method, the horse will fall to the ground.
  • The second thing to remember is that whilst guns are frightening to us, horses have no idea what they are. However,  most horses have injections at least once a year. Consider how your horse feels about injections before making a decision.

It is also worth talking to an expert about exactly what will happen, especially if you are going to be there. It will help you to deal with the event if you know what to expect – things that are perfectly normal in that situation can be worrying if you don’t know to expect them.

Other factors which owners need to consider are the cost implications of each method and what will happen to the horse after the event. Whilst it is not legal to bury animals anymore, this law doesn’t apply to pets so, if you are hoping to bury your horse at home, find out whether your horse is classed as a pet or not. If your horse does fall into the pet category, you will still need permission from your council to bury him on your land.

One practicality which is often overlooked is how to bury them. It may be necessary to use a mechanical digger, so find out if you can source one locally as well as someone to operate it for you.

Another option is to have the horse cremated, although the cost of this can vary significantly. Speak to your vet to find out what facilities are available in your area and give them a call to find out how much it costs and what is included. Most owners will prefer to have the horse collected so find out if this is a service they offer. You can also ask whether they can put the horse down or if you will need your vet to come out as well.

Finally, the most economical option is to take your horse to a slaughterhouse or abattoir. This is an option that some people shy away from but it can be worth consideration, especially if money is an issue. Remember that these are professional organisations where the welfare of the horses is paramount.

If you have any concerns, find out from your vet where your nearest slaughterhouse or abattoir is and give them a call. Again, find out what you should expect if you take your horse to them. You should also remember that this route may not be possible if your horse has been given certain medicines.

There is so much to think about that it will help you to make as many of these decisions as far in advance as possible. Even if you have a horse in the prime of its life, spend some time looking into the available options so you know what you will do.

How we can help:

Although not commonly known, part of our work involves offering advice and helping owners to make that difficult decision. We are able to help individuals to assess their animal's quality of life, it's future prospects and, if necessary, advise on the most suitable method of euthanasia and the options for disposal of the body. We will hold your hand in your hour of need and possibly even hold your horse in his.

It's not only neglect and cruelty that can adversely affect the quality of life – through mistaken love and kindness and the inability to make a very difficult decision, horses and ponies can suffer unnecessarily. Putting your horse to sleep is not cruel – it can be the most responsible and caring thing to do.

Remember: when a horse is put to sleep the only one to feel the pain is the owner.

About the author:

World Horse Welfare

We are an international charity (Registered charity no: 206658 and SC038384) dedicated to caring for horses. In this area of the site you will find an overview of our work, our approach to caring for horses, our history and information about how we are run.

Original article can found here.

 

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