Your Horses After You Die

So I’m finally getting my estate stuff in order with a lawyer and she says, “you need a plan for all your pets should they outlive you.” Well, my chickens and goats are easy, my dogs will go to relatives who already love them, but the horses? My horse will be 13 this year. Many years ahead of her I hope.

She recommended finding a ‘designated caretaker’ and a back-up to that person. And then creating an instrument such that a fund administered by a trustee would dole out a monthly or quarterly sum for the expected lifespan of the horse. Figuring out the sum ended up being the most difficult part. Since I spend a few hundred a month to maintain the horse and her pony, but what about catastrophes? My horse fell out of a moving trailer once: a month rehab at Tufts. It cost the approximate equivalent of 6 months of monthly maintenance. And the older they get, the more veterinary intervention they could need.

Anyone set up a plan for this? I’m interested in how others have addressed it.

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Make sure the designated people are on board with your plan. Check with them again every couple of years. Their personal circumstances can change.

Especially for the horse, a large animal with fewer options and heavier needs than house pets.

I’ve been aware of a case where the designated person was completely unprepared to have a horse delivered to them. And no one in the family had any interest or place for the horse(s).

And another case of a farm where the daily feeding and care just stopped because no one knew what to do. Or wanted to do it multiple times a day. Or even lived there.

For horses especially, the death of an owner can create an immediate crisis of care, depending on the circumstances. It’s not something many people can do as easily as they can feed common house pets.

Think through some transitional preparations. And have all information for immediate needs written out and easily found. :blush:

You are doing a very good thing for your animals! :blush:

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I have two horses and each is co-owned with another person (separate co-owner for each horse) so that’s straightforward. My dogs are a bigger concern if my husband were to predecease me. I’ll have to give that some thought.

My 19 y/o pony has enough $ for board for his entirety, but I’m debating on having a PTS clause as he gets older vs board.

My younger horse has money set aside, but goal is to have trainer resell him to a good home. But as he ages or has issues I’ll amend will to cover PTS.

Goal is to not have anyone burdened by them and make sure they live their best life. Thankfully my oldest daughter is somewhat horsey and can manage them provided I cover costs from my estate.


My horse has 10 years of routine expenses allocated to keep him in the style to which he is accustomed, including board, farriery, regular preventative medicine, as well as his annual injection and chiropractic work, prescriptions, and supplements, plus what I budget every year for emergencies. He is 28 this year, so that is likely to be a realistic amount to set aside. Currently, should I get hit by a bus, his ownership and administration of that fund will go to my mother, with my out-of-state sister as a back up plan. (Both are horse people.) This has been discussed with everyone, and a document outlining what constitutes quality of life and what type of major medical procedures he is a candidate for are included with the paperwork. That doesn’t explicitly include a PTS clause, but the goal is to clearly communicate his medical status and provide reassurance to the people making the decision that they are sending him on when I would have chosen.


My two horses are 22 and 13. The older is quirky enough that it could go very badly for him in the wrong hands. The younger has had some health issues that I suspect others would not be as willing to finance as I am. My will states that they both be put down if I die.

As much as I cherish them, any money in my estate is better put to use helping some in my family that need the help.


My pony will have a euthanasia clause. She’s 19, has Cushings, and a history of laminitis. My caretakers are on board with this. They both have their horses at home, have (or will have) room for another, and are experienced in retirement care.

How much do people allot per month for care? Is there a sum set aside for emergency care too?


Our “plan” for the horses is to put all of them down when we die. Daughter is in charge, can keep any if she likes, that could be younger to use herself. She gets the farm, everything anyway, so she can maintain them. Also gets the dogs and cats whom she likes already. She is a Farrier, has seen some bad care on gift or free horses that got passed along. She told me “That now she understands why we went with that choice.” She is in agreement about NEVER giving them away!

I said something to our Vet once about perhaps needing to put them all down after we die. She was not happy! Then I asked her how MANY gift horses stayed in good situations over time? How many was she called to fix or find a new home for after being unfed or cared for? That nice kid you handed the nice horse (no issues!) to, then grows up and leaves home. Horse gets ignored to end up in bad shape! Vet had to agree, did not know any free horses that had ended well.

I consider our care to be pretty basic with health attention, regular Farrier care, daily turn out, good hay. They get used fairly often, very few health issues. The old horse gets some special wet food, everyone is stalled part of the day, everyday, checked over for problems. Stalls all cleaned daily. But even as low as I consider that “standard of care,” it is way above other local horse keeping ideas!

I don’t want my horses going someplace they won’ t be cared for properly every day. They trust us to make sure they have good, easy endings.

We are listed as recipient care givers for two older horse owners. Horses may not outlive their owners, since this has been in place for years. My best friend has one horse left, the others have been put down for age or illness. I think he is lamanitic, but have not checked his hooves because I do NOT want to know! He is pretty fat, easy-keeper stock horse. She doesn’t use him but enjoys watching him out in the field. She gets herself around to feed grain and winter hay daily, fill the water tank, which is exercise she might not do if he was gone. I suggest muzzling but don’t really see her doing it. He has a big shed for shelter, which he does use when windy or cold. His health care, Farrier work is kept up. Her kids don’t care about the horse. Not sure what will happen with her 3 large, boisterous dogs and the cats. I said I could not manage all of them with my own dogs and cats in my little house. Though there is one cat I might ask for… Hope it is MANY years before I lose her!!

The second horse is one we bred, raised and sold, now 28yrs. He is in good shape, healthy, but has coliced a couple times in the past. He comes with a fund for expenses if he outlives his owner. Owner has no other family. Daughter is now doing his Farrier care after husband retired. Funny thing is horse RACES to the gate when daughter arrives and did the same for husband when he came!! Horse talks to them over the fence, during his trim, but never does this for his owner who has had him 22 years!! She gets a bit disgruntled about that after waiting hand and foot on that silly horse! Ha ha

We really don’t think either horse will end up here, those owners come from long-lived families! But it is GOOD to have a plan if it should be needed. Gives everyone peace of mind.


A lot of people put their horses in their will, but that doesn’t do anything until the will is probated. When I was working with mom’s attorney in a different state she said she sees problems with horses much more often than smaller pets. The outcomes are sometimes very bad for the horse. My original plan was to set up one agreement for my horse and one for my cats.

I had to put my horse down in July, so I never finished this. A friend finally bought her farm so she had agreed to take him. I was putting together an agreement we both would sign that she would assume care immediately on my death or inability to care for him myself. I also planned to put something in writing with the barn where he was boarded. I set up a savings account at the bank that went to my friend automatically when the bank was notified. Putting all this in wriiting with both parties signing should create something enforceable by a familty member or friend. I understood this was easier than using a trust. Horses can’t have trust funds. It has to be a person.

The cats are interesting. I have Oriental Shorthairs, which are a hybrid of Siamese and American Shorthair. My newest is a whack-job lap cat and his roomate is an older very quiet female who is starting to copy-cat him. He likes to climb up the screens on my casement windows. He lokks longingly at the ceiling fan. Around here nobody knows what Orientals are. When I asked our long-time feline vet if she know anyone I could contact - and beg for assistance - she said she does this. Same situaion, I’ll do a legal agreement with a savings account to access.

I don’t have any family. My younger sister is declining with Alzheimer’s and I have a long-lost cousin near Denver. It is forcing me to confront things we all would like to avoid. I’m staring at my 75th birthday. I figured out my horse was keeping me young because we met up a the barn 6 days a week for 21 years. I didn’t bother keeping track of days or weeks or months or years. I was 54 when I bought him and I was 55 or 56 when we put him down. I guess my math was off. :grin:


I did the math on annual expenses for everything, from board to blanket repairs, including annual urgent and emergent vet calls. That’s the amount I set aside. I also have all his equipment going with him, with the note that anything his caretakers don’t need for him can be sold to fund his care. That won’t offset things by a ton, but hey, two months of board is two months of board.

The cats were more complicated. Originally my sister said “please, if you and your husband die young, I want your cats. No offense and don’t die young.” Then she AND their other godparent got dogs who cannot live with cats. The current plan is to avoid dying young.

Getting a will is on my to-do list. I am single, no kids and 68. One horse and one small dog. It will be interesting figuring out a plan for the animals. One of my problems has been that my friends are my age and so not so likely to be able to take in another animal - even the dog.

Fortunately I do have one friend who would love to have the dog. If she doesn’t work out, my vet tech is next in line. The dog is small, young, and friendly, so not too difficult to rehome.

That same friend (about 15 years younger) has said she would like my horse as well and she has ridden him. My instructor would be next in line but I have not spoken to her yet. I trust them to keep him well or to find an appropriate home. I would hope to leave some money for short term expenses, but not for his lifetime upkeep unless I live a whole lot longer and he develops some life-limiting problem!

It is so difficult to make plans with all the “what-ifs”. I watched my dads entire estate used up for his long term care, so having money to bequeath is not a given. Then of course, we don’t know the time frame of when I will go and what condition the animals will be in.

Sigh. I think I will have a gin and tonic now. :tropical_drink:


We planned on my sister-in-law dealing with the horses, as our daughter was in college, and while DD could have had a horse at CSU, we didn’t want to put that burden on her. But we’ve already outlived the horses, so SIL is off the hook. We’d deliberately gotten older horses in the expectation that we would outlive them. The dog would have gone to our daughter (it was actually her dog), but again, it’s no longer an issue as we decided on no more animals after the last of them died of old age.

I feel for anyone who struggles for this decision. It is far from easy. We were lucky to have someone in the family who had the willingness and resources to deal with the horses if necessary. I don’t know what we would have done otherwise.


Think I’ll join ya.

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Me too. I have been thinking a lot about this after my childhood friend’s unexpected death a month ago at 45 and then Dr. Meg Mullin’s tragic accident and untimely passing. I have plans in my will for the cats, but not the horse. Am thinking I need to have a conversation with my sister and my lawyer. But a drink first sounds about right.


All the horses will be euthanized according to my will. There are four that range in age from 12-25. Barring an accident of some kind, I should outlive all of them. I figure the 12 year old is my last horse. There are too many that end up in bad situations to take the chance leaving them behind. They can all join me and their predecessors in the after life. Plus will have enough dogs to form a rogue pack for hunting.

With the dogs, I specified that over 10 get euthanized and under ten re-homed.


My mom is also a horse person so if anything were to happen to her than I would take over her horse and vice versa.
If something happened to both of us than the horses would go to my trainer. My mom’s gelding is older and retired, but is in good health. Every year we reconsider if it should be written in that he be euthanized in that scenario.
My gelding and the young mare that we share are both sound and could be leased out or part boarded to help pay for their upkeep. There is money for their care as well. Trainer also has a small breeding program. The mare is well bred, was inspected and received premium foal status, planning on having her added to the mare book as well, which could increase her usefulness.

The dog would stay with SO, or would go to my parents if something happened to both of us.

My plan is as follows:

The large horse trailer MUST be sold. It will bring between 30-40k depending on the market.

That money is to be used for the Old Man for the rest of his life. Because I don’t trust my family to make wise choices re: end of life, I have a separate friend who will be that decision maker.

The young horse is to go to a well-connected horsey friend. She is to take the mare and either 1) keep her if she wants to, or 2) send her off for training/sale using 10k from the estate. She keeps the profits.

My truck can be kept or sold, I don’t care.

My dog and 10k for her care go to my SO.

This is all outlined in my will.


I have to figure out who to designate make the euth-or-new-life decisions. Horses are long-lived … it’s a tough one.

My horsey friends have expressed reluctance – “you might not agree!” Ladies, I will be gone, so will not have an opinion. Your opinion will be the right one. That’s how it will work.

Family is strong enough and willing to do it, but knows zip about horses. If a vet doesn’t give them a clear direction on this – and many won’t – they say they need help.

Maybe a committee of friends + family – but that’s a bad decision model.

Probably a family member with the option to consult the horsey friends. :heart:

My SO and kids will be responsible for taking care of the dogs should anything happen to me first. I trust their judgment and they treat the dogs like family. I have no doubt my daughter would take on the JRTs and my SO would keep the herding dogs.

My daughter will be responsible for determining the fate of my horses. Both of my kids (working adults) are horse people and connected; so, finding a suitable, long-term safe spot for the horses shouldn’t be too difficult for them. I am leaving money designated for the horses’ care (two years worth at today’s current market) until which time they are rehomed or my children decide that caring for them in the long term is what they want to do. One of my horse properties will be left to my two children to split; so, they can decide if one wants to work it out with the other and keep one or more of the horses along with the property or they can sell it and split the proceeds which would give them both a pretty nice cushion.

Horse is 7, if I die young then she goes to my best friend with funds for 1 year worth of generous upkeep. Friend can keep, sell, or put down based on her discretion.

If SO and I both die, dog goes to my sister with generous rest of life care costs and explicit instructions to not do invasive medical interventions to prolong life. she’s old enough that putting her through that would not be worth the limited extension to life it may give.