When you take in a horse for recovery/rescue, you just never know what the outcome might be.
Will the horse crash from disfunctional organs? Will the horse recover but have serious medical conditions which will need treatment? Will the quiet, grateful old soul that is slurping up the mash turn out to be a thug with out of control behavior? Or will you be gifted with a sound, healthy horse with a decent future?
You just never know. Over the last couple of years, I have been involved in a couple of rescue type situations where it turned out that the most humane thing to do, was put them down. One was a chronic sinker/founder. One was old enough that the organs were shutting down. And so on and so forth. I have had a couple of the younger horses turn out to be surprisingly nice when fully recovered-Pepper and Wingnut and the yellow gelding spring to mind.
And that leads me to my own personal trial of spirit, compassion, and commitment. I found out yesterday afternoon that the wonderful horse lover who opened up her heart to Chubs for me, must have him gone by this coming Monday morning. In tears, I was told that the landlord insists on only three horses-not four. Chubs, of course, makes four.
Despite the fact that he's been there since green up, and the horses have panel enclosures-he has to go. No exceptions, no grace period, nothing. Gone or else. I cannot burden the caretaker with this, it's mine and mine alone to deal with.
He cannot come here. He picks fights and plows through fencing with other male horses. He can only either be by himelf, or in a place with mares. Since I have just purchased a mare for myself, I have no space for him anyway......not even another mare (such as one of the caretakers).
I called the vet straight away and when I got the return call last night, we discussed cost and logistics of euthanasia. As a practical matter due to road conditions, I prefer not to haul to that location.....I am a fair weather (dry!!!) road hauler as a rule. I had made up my mind some time back that I was not going to haul any more horses to be put down. It's hard, very very hard. This time of year it would be difficult to get a pit dug on short notice on my own property anyway.
My options are to haul him to the clinic, have him euthed in the horse trailer and dispose of him at the landfill myself. Cheapest, but the emotional cost will be very high. I just can't go there with the remains, I can't. Too many dead horses in my memory, you know?
The other option is to have the vet handle it completely, although I will need to be there to load of course. Sigh. I spoke with my husband and he is upset of course, he really likes old Chubs. But we knew we would have to face this some day-we just did not know it would be due to his behavior, and not because of failing organs or something.
The sad truth is that there is no special medical condition-he does not need a mash, he actually has his molars. He does have that terrible arthritis and the blown knees-but an entire summer with a lot of exercise has helped him immensely. He has a nice personality with good ground manners, but he's old. No one knows for sure how old-vet said between 25 and 30. And truthfully that doesn't matter, really. For him, this is the end of the road.
I don't see anyone stepping forward to offer stable space for a horse that has behavorial issues, even if he's relatively easy on the pocketbook to feed. I can't think of one local place that would have room and facilities for him, even if I was willing to spend the board money.
So this is the really hard part of horse ownership-when you have run out of options. No medical or disease or soundness issue (he is "pasture sound") he is just old, cantankerous towards other horses, and there is nowhere for him to go. Period.
Unless a miracle happens sometime today, poor old Chubs will leave this earth for the Rainbow Bridge tomorrow, mid day. The plight of these older horses never gets any easier for me.