Saturday, February 3, 2018

Time to Say Goodbye

It can be tough to decide to put a horse down. The question on 'when is it time?" cropped up twice in the past month with me. A horse of a friend of mine, and closer to home, my wife's 29 year Quarterhorse mare, of the Peter McCue bloodline, who she raised from birth. We're the kind of people who keep horses until the end of their natural life. Wasn't always this way. It becomes a financial as well as emotional burden at times.

I've likely caused pain and suffering, especially in the earlier years of my life, and for that I'm very sorry. It has probably shaped the way I feel about animals these days, finding sadness and anger when I see animals mistreated. So I am pretty well finely tuned mentally not to let any of animals experience suffering from failing systems and old age, but still it can be a difficult call on an aging animal.

Most of us have been told that "we'll know when it's time", but that's not always clear. A broken leg is one thing, but a fractured coffin bone wing or a bowed tendon is another. I've had horses come back from both to be sound and useable. When I ran a large public stables years ago I experienced many cases of owners hoping for a miracle turn around on a twisted gut or a case of founder and it was difficult watching the horses suffer just because the owner wished for better. But the ravages of age bring about a whole difficult set of circumstances to consider.

Your Veterinarian has absolutely got to be part of the process when deciding when it is time. It's likely hard on the Vet too, to deliver such advice. While the Vet to owner relationship is important for that honesty to be present, I've found that most Vet's just aren't in the business of giving anything close to false hope so some may advise to go to the final solution a little quicker.

In the past month my wife's 29 year old mare has difficulty getting back up once she lays down.  When I'd found her that way we'd have to roll her over so she can get her better back leg underneath herself. We'd worry about her laying down early in the evening when it'll be 6 or 8 hours before we see her again, and within that time circulation problems would likely occur. Recently, she will go several days before laying down. But during the day we see her doing short trots across the turnout and nickering at us when she see's us approaching with sweet feed and she has free choice alfalfa and grass hay 24/7. We enjoy pretty decent winter weather here in West Texas, certainly much better than Montana, yet my wife hauls bucket of warm water with molasses several times a day to her mare so often drinks a 17 quart bucket down at one time.

Four days ago My wife flew out to Houston for cancer tests and while she was gone her horse went down again at 9:00 at night.  I made the call to my Vet who came in the early morning and I had her put her down.  I told my Vet, "I'm not asking you to make the call,'s my responsibility, so lets put her down", she said "yes, it's time". 

Andromeda McCue, aka Ande, born April 7,1990 - died Feb.1, 2018, now can rest with those special horses who have gone before.  She left a legacy of a long line of children who learned to ride on her. 


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