For the second time in less that a year I am looking at an end of life decision for a horse. If anyone can share viewpoints on this, I would appreciate an outside view. Sorry, I’m verbose.
My old pony is a 27ish QH cross that has been in my life for almost 18 years. Up until 2010 he was my iron pony- never injured, always sound, kept on air and sweet as could be. In 2010 he put his leg through a fence, and it took almost a year to heal up. Since then, he has started to slide, as one would expect with an aging pony.
For the last 3 years, the amount of feed has gone up til he is eating more than a fellow boarders 17h warmblood. His teeth are fine, his blood work is clear, vet did a full workup- he just won’t hold weight. (5lb senior feed/day for a 12.2h pony to keep weight… and his ribs are starting to show again).
Two years ago he started exhibiting intermittent petit mal seizure-like symptoms. No down on the ground flailing, but I don’t really consider him riding sound for anyone but me because I’m OK taking that risk, but worry about others.
Last year I had to put his buddy down (they were together for 16 years), and move him to a new facility. He has never made a new friend there, and since the move he has become increasingly horse aggressive. This makes total sense since he is the smallest (12.2h) and oldest horse on the property:no:
Last year he had such bad fly allergies that he rubbed a hole in his face, destroying the tear duct and taking over 2 months to heal back up. An unemployed boarder volunteered to help out with extra cleanings, otherwise it would have dragged on for much longer because I simply couldn’t get out often enough to medicate an eye injury.
Yesterday he got kicked in the face. He is going to the vet tomorrow, but it looks pretty bad. He is eating and such, and let me clean it with a minimum of fuss, but… definitely bones broken, meds needed (more than the bute I’m dosing him with). I don’t think his jaw was impacted, but a horse with potential neuro issues already did NOT need a solid blow to the head.
Now I’m scared. I’ve been dreading the return of fly season anyway, because I didn’t know if he’d rub a hole in his eye again. He seems to be seeking out aggressive interactions with horses at the barn, so I worry what other injuries he’ll come up with, and the barn owner is nice, but not able to provide extra health care services.
I can’t be out more than 2x a week. I can’t care for a major health issue. I can’t afford a place that can.
I’m an adult, I know where this is going, and I realize that the end may be near. But he seems to be healthy most of the time… Just chronically broken. And chronically angry (though he adores people). And he has been healing more and more slowly.
All of this is leading me to consider euthanasia. It has been at the back of my mind anyway, but he just received a rather severe injury and I don’t know if dragging him through the potentially unpleasant healing process (which will take longer than expected due to his slower healing) is a kind idea either. So I’m going from a ‘well, I might need to consider this at some point in the next while’ to a much more immediate concern.
Is euthanasia an actual reasonable decision here, or do I just sound like someone who has gotten frustrated and needs to cool off?
Just in case anyone asks- no, I’m not going to consider any option that has him passing out of my hands. I’ve seen way to many horses slip through the cracks that way, and I can’t let that happen to him.
If you stuck with me- thank you and I appreciate any insight you can provide.