Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Dealing with the decision to euthanize is tough enough, but when it's a horse there are an awful lot of details to look after. Horses don't go to the vet, often don't live at their owner's homes, are difficult to bury, impractical and expensive to cremate, and so on.

My horse lives at a boarding stable. There are quite a lot of other boarders and it's been difficult to find a quiet half day of the week as many of them do not have 9 to 5 type jobs. Some things should not be witnessed by anyone uninvolved. Euthanizing my horse is one of them.

I think I've worked out the best day of the week, and chosen the week of the month. Now I need to make the appointment with the vet and get the deadstock removal firm's contact details. I have been putting off making the vet appointment, because I don't think I'm going to be able to do so without breaking down. Even though the decision is made, somehow putting a definite date on it makes it more immediate. Time is rushing forward and we are almost into October already.

Call me callous, but the idea of having the deadstock truck pick up my horse afterwards doesn't bother me. I know his essential spirit will be gone, and he won't be needing the physical body anymore. But at the same time I don't want to know the details of the pickup, and I know if anyone at the barn actually witnesses it they will at some point feel compelled to talk about it. It's odd, but the idea of chopping off his tail hair afterwards bothers me more than the deadstock removal. I want to keep his tail to put in a shadow box with his halter, but I get squirmy when I think about cutting it off.

Arranging for the vet is going to be more difficult than just calling. I'm going to have to ensure that they mark it as a private appointment so it's not even mentioned to any other boarder should they call for a vet visit. The clinic is very good at adding clients onto an existing appointment where possible so we can split the call fee. This is one call fee I don't want to split.

Once the vet is set then I need to talk to my barn owner and arrange the deadstock pickup. The barn owner offered to help, to stand in for any part of the process I couldn't do. I will be there for the vet, but I'm not sticking around for the truck. I'll leave the money and get the heck out of there.

Maybe I need to arrange for someone to drive me home...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Visit from an old friend

A couple of weeks ago I sent an email to a few old friends of ours to let them know it was time to say goodbye to my horse, and that I felt it was important that those people who think he's awesome come out to make their farewells. Each of them responded and sent their sympathies and wishes to come out and say their goodbyes.

One of them came out to visit today. She hadn't received the email until a week or two after I'd sent it and while her plans had brought her near his stable, the timing was too soon for her. We talked for a while and caught up with our horse lives and various other news.

I told her all the little signs I'd seen, and the questions I've been asking myself. It's funny - to everyone I've told so far I feel the need to explain why I'm euthanizing my horse this fall. I hate that feeling. Maybe it's a subconcious thing, but it makes me feel like I'm trying to justify my decision and want the other person's approval. I didn't feel even a hint of that need to justify my decision with this friend. She gets it. She understands where I'm standing and sharing the details with her, for just a few minutes, allowed her to take part of the weight of that decision that I'm carrying.

In the end she didn't feel ready to see my horse and say goodbye. There's a little time left. Time to work through her feelings and visit again to see him. She did leave the carrots she'd brought for him.

Dear friend - Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

and so it begins...

It's not really beginning now as I made the decision a few weeks ago. I've been chewing on the decision for a while now, but it is time I let my horse go before his life becomes a living hell.

I'm blogging about it because it's a heart wrenching and difficult decision to make for any of our animals and I hope someone else can read this and know they are not alone in making this sort of decision.

I keep smacking up into the realization that I'm going to lose him sooner than later. The nebulous idea of "this fall" became "late October" and has become "about four weeks". Wait a minute! That's not right! It can't possibly be the end of September yet... But the leaves are starting to turn. A shock of orange among the green. The fading of green to yellow. It is autumn all too soon.

He's a cool horse. We've done a lot together and he's taught me more than a few lessons. I got him more than fifteen years ago - a timespan that seems like forever, but somehow at the same time seems like last year. I don't want to put out too many details right now as there are some other boarders at the barn who's greatest joy appears to be vicious, judgemental gossip. They can wait until after the fact to shred my actions. Suffice it to say that he's a pretty awesome boy to those of us who know him well.

There are times that I can forget what's coming for hours. Then the smallest thing reminds me, brings a lump into my throat and tears to my eyes. That flash of orange in the green trees. I sat on the floor in the barn and cried the day I saw his name on my board bill because I realized that I'm only going to see it one more time.

The decision is made, but the questions about whether I'm right, is this the time, could I keep him going, is that a sign he wants to hang around a while longer, and so on don't go away. I keep looking for confirmation that I'm right, or solid evidence I'm wrong. But there isn't any either way at this stage. He looks good right now - many people have said so. I remember last winter and how he had some trouble handling the weather. I see the subtle changes in him that warn of larger problems come winter.

I finally realized that while the answer to the question "could I keep him going through another winter or several?" is a definite yes, that is the wrong question. The real question needs to be "Should I?" and to that question I must reluctantly answer "no". He definitely deserves better than being forced to endure life simply because I'm not ready to let him go. I never will be ready.