To anyone who has put their horse down not because of medical necessity (instead, like a young horse retired early because of soundness issues, a horse with a dangerous behavior, etc.), how do you feel about having done that? Do you ever feel guilty?
I have a 20yr old 12hh pony that I’ve had for 11 years - she’s been retired for 8 of those. To make a long story short(er), she was my first pony who was only moderately broke when my parents bought her. After some failed training attempts we discovered that she had back issues (we didn’t get diagnostics, but I suspect kissing spines) and bad behavioral issues, and she’s been retired ever since.
I’ve kept her all these years because as a teenager I certainly couldn’t imagine getting rid of my first pony. We have our own property, so we’ve been able to keep her without too much added cost.
She’s had Cushings for the last couple of years and just isn’t looking as healthy as she used to (despite being on meds and having regular blood tests). I often feel sorry for her since she has to stay in a gravel paddock because she can’t tolerate grass. She also can’t be turned out with other horses because she beats the crap out of them. I can’t help but think she must be sad living in a gravel paddock with no social interactions. She can see the other horses on the property, she just can’t be turned out with/ next to them (she’ll destroy fences to attack a neighboring horse).
She’s definitely not entirely mentally sound. She’s always disliked other horses, and she also has a very unpredictable explosive streak (which, after we bought her, we realized made her unsuitable to be a child’s pony). She has always, whether under saddle or being led, will randomly bolt and start bucking or rearing. Even though she’s small, this makes her a bit dangerous when being led to/ from her stall. Over the years we’ve had every kind of trainer work with her, from cowboys to natural horsemanship gurus, and they all came to the same conclusion - she was mentally unstable and basically untrainable. I found the lady who bred her, and it turns out her dam was the same way - she wasn’t safe to be ridden/ worked with (and I guess that made her an excellent candidate to breed ).
I am in the position to continue paying for my pony’s care, but that money could also be put to good use paying off other bills. I’ve wondered about looking into the possibility of putting her down, but I don’t know if I could do it. Outside of being a bit of a nut, she’s healthy. Has anyone else been in a similar position? What did you do? How do you feel about your decision?