Can I gently persuade friend to PTS elderly horse?

SEL

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I wonder if its possible to say the vet could give her some guidance as to how to manage his weight and arthritis - so put it forward as a positive thing that the vet should come out to give him a once over? I did feel more relieved than I was expecting when mine looked at my wonky draft horse the other week and said yes, he won't make his 20s but you're far from making the call. We had a bit of a chat about what would be 'making the call' and actually she gave me a lot of comfort that I wasn't sticking my head in the sand.

I find threads like these hard because everybody has a different point where they call time. I also feel for the vets because it really isn't a nice conversation to initiate with an owner - but how many horses peacefully go to sleep in the field without suffering? We'd all wish it, but it rarely happens.
 

Merrymoles

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I am horrified by the suggestion on hastening the horse's end without her knowledge. I have always been there at the end for all my animals and I would be unbelievably distressed if someone took on themselves to make such a major decision without my knowledge and I am sure the lady would be the same.

I am also horrified that a vet hasn't seen the horse in some time - I thought there were now rules about six-monthly medication checks. There certainly are for our dog and, I believe, for horses.

Teeth can be a problem in aged horses and are not always an easy fix. My friend's horse is no longer able to eat forage of any sort, although he can still manage grass. Basically his teeth are so worn that he no longer has any grinding surface left - they are like smooth pebbles at the back and the front ones are just tiny stumps. He has five bucket feeds a day and currently looks very good and obviously feels very well, given his performance in the field this morning. However, it is costing her a fortune to keep him that way and we take good care to check his condition regularly and keep him warm enough. However, this horse is able to lie down and get up and have the odd canter around without problems and still gets either ridden or walked out in hand a few times a month. I am quite sure that if my friend had not put so much effort into getting the right nutrition for him and seeing the vet regularly to discuss what he should or should not do etc, he might be in the same situation as the horse the OP is talking about.

I think getting the horse's teeth looked at would be a good starting point for having the conversation and a vet opinion on how the future looks for him.
 

honetpot

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I don't disagree that the horse needs action to be taken.

I just think that suggesting going behind the owner's back the lying about it in the described circumstances is an absolutely disgusting and utterly heartless suggestion.

You seem to think that those of us who are horrified by your awful suggestion are somehow not worried about the horse. I would suggest not. We're just not prepared to behave appallingly cruelly towards an older woman struggling with the end of her horse and the end of her lifestyle either.

It is possible to want to take action in the best interests of this horse and still retain some humanity.
I was nearly in this situation with a friend, who I offered time and space to come to terms with the inevitable, the horse was not in any immediate welfare crisis, but there was a time limit, she refused my offer.
She then went through the process of rehoming it through animal charity, which cost her money, it had a vet assessment, and a lot of anxiety, she was certain they were rehoming it, they advertised the horse. They then PTS just over two weeks after it arrived, which they did not tell her about. I understand why she didn't want to face the reality of having PTS, if I had 'found him dead' in the field, well as it is, she thinks an institution she trusted took her money and lied to her, and that is all she can think about.
However you go about this the owner will be upset, if my friend's horse if it had with me and deteriorated quickly, we would have had a frank conversation pretty quickly, and she knew it and that probably why she tried the rehoming route.
We are not children, in fact, when my children were teenagers we openly discussed the circumstances of when and why their ponies would be PTS. There was always a plan, a time frame. I think owners thinking about their own welfare above their animals, is appalling, what ever their age.
Would we think differently if it was a food animal? Being on the wrong side of welfare can cost you money, you are unable to send animals to market, the abattoir, and if you do could be fined.
https://www.farminguk.com/news/nort...00-for-moving-unfit-and-lame-sheep_45332.html
 

paddy555

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I was nearly in this situation with a friend, who I offered time and space to come to terms with the inevitable, the horse was not in any immediate welfare crisis, but there was a time limit, she refused my offer.
She then went through the process of rehoming it through animal charity, which cost her money, it had a vet assessment, and a lot of anxiety, she was certain they were rehoming it, they advertised the horse. They then PTS just over two weeks after it arrived, which they did not tell her about. I understand why she didn't want to face the reality of having PTS, if I had 'found him dead' in the field, well as it is, she thinks an institution she trusted took her money and lied to her, and that is all she can think about.
However you go about this the owner will be upset, if my friend's horse if it had with me and deteriorated quickly, we would have had a frank conversation pretty quickly, and she knew it and that probably why she tried the rehoming route.
We are not children, in fact, when my children were teenagers we openly discussed the circumstances of when and why their ponies would be PTS. There was always a plan, a time frame. I think owners thinking about their own welfare above their animals, is appalling, what ever their age.
Would we think differently if it was a food animal? Being on the wrong side of welfare can cost you money, you are unable to send animals to market, the abattoir, and if you do could be fined.
https://www.farminguk.com/news/nort...00-for-moving-unfit-and-lame-sheep_45332.html
interesting comments. I raised several points in m y post 87 that I would be interested in your views on.
 

Cowrie

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Out of interest @honetpot (And I have only skim read the thread so apologies if this has already been addressed), but what would your reaction be if you found out that one of your animals - or, say, one of your children's ponies - had been shot at the request someone else, who thought they were suffering and and at the end of their life?
 

Goldenstar

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As the landowner you could only PTS in an emergency if you could not contact the owner .
But as the landowner you quite firmly push the owner to get the vet in .
If the vets happy with the situation as long as the owner takes advice given by the vet the Landowner has discharged to duty of care .
No landowner should ever kill a third parties horse unless in a dire emergency situation .
That’s clearly a unlawful act .
 
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Carrottom

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I broached a similar situation over a neighbours elderly pony by turning it around and asking them what they would think if they walked past and saw her in the field, not being connected to her at all.
 

Sussexbythesea

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I don’t know what additional support this horse (sorry if I’ve missed it) gets but my 27yr old is treated like a prince and has an increased level of care over the careful care he has had all his life. If I left him out in a field in winter with just hay he would definitely be underweight as he has little grinding surface to deal with coarse fibre. He’s ridden a few times a week sees the dentist twice a year has Bowen or physio therapy along with my younger horse. He’s shod every 5 weeks. He’s stuffed with high calorie grub and hay replacers and has various supplements to support his joints. I basically micromanage him to keep him fit and healthy. If and when he cannot be managed to keep him happy and healthy he will be pts. In the meantime absolutely nothing is skimped just because he’s old.

Either the owner throws everything at him to make him comfortable if she wishes to keep him or as you say pts is the kindest option. Maybe if you gave this as an initial option to see if he can be made comfortable first it will help her come to terms with pts knowing she’s given him the best shot.

I do think it’s lovely that you’re looking for the kindest solution for both the owner and horse.
 

Lady Jane

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Have to say this thead has made me think ..

I am going to ask a couple of people I trust to promise to sit me down and give me "the talk" if I fail to pick up when my horse (who is hopefully many years away from needing to be PTS) needs to be given a graceful and peaceful exit.

I know I am very attached to her and this thread has made me think there, but for the grace of god go I.
That's what I did. And was told did I realise my boy couldn't get through the winter. It hit me like a sledge hammer but she was right. That conversation was August, he was PTS October
 

Regandal

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If the horse hasn’t been seen by a vet for over a year, are his vacs up to date? ‘ loving him to bits’ won’t stop him dying of tetanus. He’s on 2 danilon a day and still struggling, sounds grim.
 

Melody Grey

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I think another viewpoint that might be helpful/ needs to be put across to the owner is that this can end in a dignified way to all concerned with forward planning....or can be a completely traumatic disaster. I had to say to someone once that I didn’t wish me and my little boy (then aged 5) to find their horse down/ dying as we were always first on the yard in the mornings. You deserve to be granted that respect too OP.
 

Peglo

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These threads also scare me that my heads in the sand with my 2 oldies. I’ve had the vet out to check them and she said they were doing fine and she was happy for me to take them into winter. But i really hope someone would tell me if they thought they were suffering and I hadn’t/wouldn’t realise.

Best of luck OP with this tricky situation. Hope some of the good advice above helps when you speak to your friend. (But please don’t shoot her horse!! 😬)
 

TGM

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If the horse hasn’t been seen by a vet for over a year, are his vacs up to date? ‘ loving him to bits’ won’t stop him dying of tetanus. He’s on 2 danilon a day and still struggling, sounds grim.
I suspect if a horse has had tetanus jabs all the way from being a foal to his twenties, then actually the chances of him succumbing to tetanus are pretty small after an 18 month gap. Even Liphook Equine Hospital suggest that horses can go two years between tetanus boosters after the primary course and first booster.
 

LeneHorse

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I don't know if this has already been suggested but if she hasn't seen the horse struggling to get up you could video on your phone and show her next time she is up.

I feel sorry for everyone in this situation and hope the 'right' decision can be made before the horse goes further downhill - but in a kind way that the owner accepts.
 

ester

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I suspect if a horse has had tetanus jabs all the way from being a foal to his twenties, then actually the chances of him succumbing to tetanus are pretty small after an 18 month gap. Even Liphook Equine Hospital suggest that horses can go two years between tetanus boosters after the primary course and first booster.
It depends on the barnd but tet is every 2 or 3 years.
 

ycbm

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You could contact a charity / rescue eg world Horse Welfare & say how concerned you are about this horse. You won’t have to give your details.

This is a very good suggestion. If you let one of us have the details of how and where we "saw" the horse in poor condition struggling to get up, we can report it if you don't want to.
.
 

Goldenstar

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You could contact a charity / rescue eg world Horse Welfare & say how concerned you are about this horse. You won’t have to give your details.
They won’t but people are not thick and they work it out in many cases then you just have to deny it as robustly as you can .
 

J&S

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I sympathise with the owner of this horse. I was guilty of letting my NF mare go on for a last winter on the basis that I was sure that she would "pick up in the spring", even though vet had suggested this would not happen. Of course, spring came and the hoped for improvement did not happen so the decision was made. Perhaps this owner will be able to see what needs to happen in the same way.
 

honetpot

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Out of interest @honetpot (And I have only skim read the thread so apologies if this has already been addressed), but what would your reaction be if you found out that one of your animals - or, say, one of your children's ponies - had been shot at the request someone else, who thought they were suffering and and at the end of their life?
Well first of all I hope I would never let them get to that situation, when they all go when they are mobile and a good weight, but if I was at livery, and it happened, it would have to depend on the circumstances. When I was very ill, if someone had told me they had all the old ponies shot, it would one less thing for me and my husband to worry about.
It costs about £200-£300 for a horse to be shot and disposed of, so someone would have to real reason to do this, in reality the majority of people have a great reluctance to PTS. There are too many animals who are perhaps on the way to being a welfare concern because they are tucked in some field and the owners can forget about them, rather than tackle the problem. I have been around horses for over fifty years, in the 70's the knacker took it away and you got money, there is now no financial incentive. My children's ponies were competition ponies PC ponies, so unless there was a welfare issue, I would be suing them for the value. If some had their horse shot depending on the child's age, I would tell them it broke its leg, and it needed to be done, it happens, we had a pony die while out on loan. When any animal dies you are sad, but as long as it's quick and as pain free as possible, that's the important part.

The welfare laws for farm livestock are more closely monitored, if a farmer has a cow, or sheep in a field that underweight and or crippled, if a member of the public reports it, Trading Standards could be all over their property looking at their books and sheds. I have had my yard inspected as part of routine inspection, they check the animals, and where they are kept.
 

photo_jo

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A good few years ago there was a pony a few miles down the road from us, he was skin and bone, about 39 years old and had own the past been one of top jumping ponies. The people who owned the house where he was 'inherited' the pony with the property but did not own him. After we saw him while riding past we called in a few days later. The people who owned the place were in the same position as you, they wanted to put him down before the winter but the owner wouldn't hear of it. They'd been in touch with the RSPCA and they would do nothing as he had very good care. He did still have a shiny coat to be fair and he was looked after immaculately but only did about three droppings a week if I remember right. They said to us if you can think of anything go for it. We contacted what was then the ILPH (now WHW), as we knew a local officer as such. She went, saw the pony, rang the owners and they let him go that weekend. It was the end of October, the weather had been amazing and the day after he went the weather changed. I would ring World Horse Welfare and see what they can do
 

Pearlsasinger

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I'm at work but I wanted to log in quickly and say that although he is thin, arthritic and struggling I don't believe this is reaching the level of welfare problems that would involve the RSPCA etc. I definitely would not PTS without the owner's agreement unless it was an emergency. We're not at that stage and I hope we don't get there.

I will ask her to get the vet to look at his teeth and hope they will give him a good once over. I suspect his weight will improve if his teeth are causing problems, but that doesn't stop his arthritis now being so bad it is affecting his quality of life. I have told her I worry about him in bad weather, that he's sore in the morning and seems to have stopped lying down since he last got stuck but I just don't think she can make that leap. It may come better from a vet.

I know how important horses are to her, but we don't really have anything she can play with since I had his companion put down before Xmas. There is a charity about 20 mins away who would love to have someone like her helping and I did try some gently hints a while back but they were ignored. I think the big problem is she can't see how to fill her life without him.

When a horse has got stuck once,becauseof arthritis, it's time to say 'goodbye' imo. This isn't love for the horse, it's 'I can't face the decision'. Start with the vet visit but if the horse were on my land, I should have to be saying' this can't go on.I am not prepared to come out one morning and have to deal with an emergency pts. So what are you going to do to avoid that?' And the 2 options have to be move or pts
 

Hepsibah

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When a horse has got stuck once,becauseof arthritis, it's time to say 'goodbye' imo. This isn't love for the horse, it's 'I can't face the decision'. Start with the vet visit but if the horse were on my land, I should have to be saying' this can't go on.I am not prepared to come out one morning and have to deal with an emergency pts. So what are you going to do to avoid that?' And the 2 options have to be move or pts
My OH had two horses when we first met. One was a retired older New Forest pony called Stoney and the other a Cleveland Bay in his prime called Harry. Stoney was in her thirties and very stiff when she laid down and couldn't get up. She seemed okay in herself, just unable to get her feet under herself to be able to stand. After several fruitless attempts to encourage her, the vet was called and she was PTS because we knew that if we got her up it would only happen again.

A few years on, Harry became arthritic after a kick in the field. He was semi retired, only going out for a gentle walk now and then when he was feeling good and he seemed happy enough being the designated stallion in the field with my mares then one day last March we saw him struggling to get up after a snooze. We called the vet that afternoon. My OH still wonders if it was the right thing because of course the day the vet came he was having a good day. It would have been much harder to live with leaving it too long though IMO.
 
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Struggling to get up has actually always been my line in the sand too - and is the reason I put the companion to sleep before Xmas. He actually looked really well (ridiculously good doer) but had an old injury to his right hind and that was starting to bother him once the ground got deep. It was also the reason I hoped they'd go together given mine was the healthier of the two.

I've started the conversation about getting the vet out for dentist and health check and for now I think I'll carry on down that route. We have a planner up for appointments so I can remind / nag if it doesn't appear on there. Its a very, very sensitive position and thank you to those that have tried to understand why I'd prefer to take a more gentle route than some of the other options. I really want her or her hubbie to decide that they need to make that call and not feel bullied into it.

I do also understand where other people are coming from taking a very direct route, but after all these years I'd rather try the gentle approach rather than the nuclear one
 

Pearlsasinger

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Im afraid that would have made it very clear when the horse got stuck and presumably needed intervention of some kind, that it had better not happen again on my land. I would have very matter-of-factly assumed that pts was the next step and been asking 'when', not 'if'.
 
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paddy555

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I would lie, and get the fallen stock man out, and tell her you found it dead in the field, is she going to know? I know, it's her choice, but I am done with being soft with people.

honetpot, a few points I asked earlier. I have no problems that PTS is possibly the best thing for this horse it is just your comments that I have a problem with so it would be nice to know:-

why lie? why not tell the truth, I thought you were being cruel so I took it upon myself to have your horse PTS.
Will the stock man shoot a horse without the owner's permission in a situation that is not an emergency?

presumably after it was dead you would tell her. She may want to see the horse to say goodbye. Would it not be obvious that the horse had not dropped dead but had been PTS. What if you disposed of the horse via the knacker man and she had plans for cremation and the ashes to be returned for example. Who is going to pay for the destruction and removal. You presumably. She is hardly going to pay for a service she didn't request and I don't see how she could be made to do so.

Finally how can you decide if this is a welfare case requiring destruction unless you are a vet. If you thought this, got the vet out and he confirmed it then it may be different but just to go around destroying someone's horse because you don't agree with it's quality of life is not on
 

NinjaPony

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Genuinely gobsmacked at the idea you’d have someone else’s horse shot without telling them and then lie about it.
As the owner, you’d never get over that. How appalling.
OP, you sound like a kind and sensible person. I’d definitely be sitting down to have a kind and honest conversation, and get the vet to come out to see the horse. My vets made it clear to me when we had run out of options and that they thought pts was the right thing to do and their honesty allowed me to live with the decision I had to make.
 
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