Learning from Patience
It was just three short months ago that we wrote an article called Duty, Honor and Responsibility–Caring For Your Senior Horse Til The End.
Then, an advertisement shows up on Craigslist…Registered Quarter Horse, Free To A Good Home (Gallatin). We’re sent the ad by those who follow us, not once, not twice, not three times, but four separate times, and in each time we let those who send it know we really aren’t in a position to help right now. Our resources are limited.
A fifth person asks. This time, we decide we will at least try to find more of the story, and see if we can discover more about why this overly thin mare is being given away free. Her name is Patience. She was the owner’s childhood horse, and has been in her life her whole life. Her owner is now in college, and the horse has suddenly lost weight due to chronic and explosive diarrhea. This bowel issue has gone on for many weeks. The horse did see the vet, but diagnostics cost over $400 with the vet the owner had used, and further treatment was declined.
Her next step? Free on Craigslist. She went to a home in Kentucky from the Craigslist ad, and of course, her condition did not improve without treatment. The “Good Home” this mare found was going to take her to auction tomorrow, July 6th.
So, in spite of all of our reservations, and truly expecting the worst, our volunteer drove 3 hours round trip to bring Patience to Safe Harbor. Our expectations were proven right when after a veterinary exam we found Patience has intestinal cancer and there was no path to save her. At 1:08pm today, Patience was laid to rest to run free at the rainbow bridge.
We simply can’t understand how the lifelong love of your life as a horse girl ended up free on Craigslist instead of humanely euthanized at home. We want to believe it is just because people don’t understand how to work through the process of going through the final farewell with their horse. Surely sending her off to a stranger and then to slaughter is more emotional and would make you lose far more sleep than being there to say goodbye–knowing the goodbye was peaceful and surrounded by love.
Surely as horse owners, it is our duty to be there to the end for our horses. For Patience, we were there for her at the end. Her final moments were peaceful, but they almost were the most horrific end possible. She was just one day away from a fate worse than death.
Maybe you are nearing the time to make a decision with your horse? Maybe you do not know how or what to expect? Maybe it scares you to think about euthanasia–the final compassion. What happens, is it traumatic? We want to assure you it is not, and there are resources to help.
First, call and schedule with your veterinarian. They can answer your questions directly on what to expect during the appointment.
You can be alone with your horse, or you can have close friends with you to help you say farewell, that is totally up to you. Your veterinarian will administer sedation to your horse. This is the same sedation that would be used for any type of field surgery such as a castration. Your horse will get very sleepy, wobbly, and then will end up laying down. A lot of times your horse will snore, sleeping peacefully. A second injection is then administered; after your horse is away in dreamland. This injection stops the heart from beating, and the sweet sleep transitions to freedom of the spirit from the body–freedom from pain and ailment. There is no stress, there is no pain, and your final moments with your horse are your horse having you–their lifelong friend at their side as they say farewell. There is a peace to it, knowing it was the right and true choice. The veterinary procedure for euthanasia will cost about $125
There is some plan ahead you do need to do. Once your vet leaves, you do need to figure out your plan for the body of your horse. Here are some options with anticipated costs:
Approx $1,000: Private Cremation with Return of Remains. With this option, which is the most expensive, you can call All-Tenn Pet Cremations. They will come and pick up your horse, cremate privately, and return the ashes to you in an urn.
Approx $750: Mass Cremation. With this option, you can call All-Tenn Pet Cremations. They will come and pick up your horse and cremate with other pets. The ashes will be spread on a farm in Rutherford County.
Approx $250: If you live on a farm or have access to a farm with good dirt; not rock, you can have your horse buried on your farm. It is typically $250 to have a backhoe operator come and do the burial. If you do have rock, there is an option called surface burial where you put dirt on top of your horse. Check with your county on the depth of dirt that needs to be put on top of your horse for surface burial, it’s typically 2 feet or more.
$150: If you live in Williamson County, the County will come and pick up your horse’s remains for you for a $150 fee. You do have to do the euthanasia by the road to utilize this service. The # to call for pickup is (615)-790-0742.
Approx $75: If you have the ability to have your horse euthanized on a horse trailer and can drive to Kord Diagnostic Lab in Nashville, your vet can order a necropsy of your horse. This will give you peace of mind in knowing exactly what was happening medically with your horse, and verify that your horse did not have a communicable illness. You’ll pay Kord around $75 for accepting your horse’s body.
No Fee: Many Counties; including Rutherford and Bedford have a contract with Appertain. To see if your county is covered, call Appertain at 931-363-8284. They will come and pick up your horse’s body within 24 hours of request at no cost to you (it is a taxpaid service in your county).
If none of these options work for you, call your UT Agricultural Extension for your county and ask for advice.
Making the right choice for your horse does not have to cost a fortune. It can actually cost less than the wrong choice, and will certainly be easier on your conscience, and you won’t go through life regretting decisions made for a friend.
We certainly don’t regret that Patience found her way through our doors, and that we were able to make the compassionate choice for her. We do wish that in situations like hers that owners would make this choice–and we know it can be hard! It is, however, easier for the horse to be with who they love, and allows the limited resources of rescue to be spent on those that can be saved.