Late extreme reaction after had horse PTS. How do you cope?

MargotC

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 April 2014
Messages
868
Hi all,

This is, perhaps, a bit of a heavy topic as far as first posts go, but I have been wondering about this for a while.

The (rather long, sorry) back story is this: I got my first horse in January 2005. Was by no means a novice rider having leased and ridden horses for my RS instructor for years, but was new to the novelty of having my very own. He was a Standardbred gelding, rising 5, at the time a rescue and a bit of an impulse buy as he was scheduled to go to slaughter a few days later due to not being competitive enough. In hindsight not the choice I would have made for a first horse could I choose again, but he was wonderful for all his quirks. I spent that year and the next bringing him on and we went from literally having two paces (walk or GO) to mastering canter, direct transitions from walk to canter and back, cantering on long reins, doing cross-country courses; you name it. He proved incredibly versatile. I lived for the moments I could really feel him get it - it was like having a light bulb switch on and you could tell he enjoyed it.

He was, of course, not without faults, but then again what horse is. He was what you could call a one-man horse, he did not thrive with change, he did not travel easily, and every now and then he could pull stunts while hacking (bucks, leaping towards lorries) that meant you had to take precautions of when and where to ride him. While I would have let most anyone handle him on the ground, I could not put another rider on him without supervision.

In 2010, I was forced to admit I needed a horse more suited to my needs as they were then and the rider I had become. Having given up lessons and competing in favour of hacking and work commitments, I needed a horse that was more reliable and safe to hack. I took a long time making the decision because I knew I could not afford having two horses - I kept him at a part-time livery and while he would likely have been happy as a lawn ornament, I had no way of affording those arrangements.

Due to his aforementioned quirks, I was not comfortable with the idea of selling him on. He would have no value on an already filled-to-the-brim horse market, and the only prospective buyers I could foresee were teenage girls and people looking for a cheap horse with no guarantee of his - or their own - safety. I did not want to see him passed around like so many other horses and so the decision was made to have him PTS.

He went two weeks after I got my new horse. It was done at the yard by the local knackerman - as mentioned he was hard to travel so taking him anywhere was a no-go as it would have only caused him stress, and he would have known something was up if the vet came around. I couldn't bear to be present on the day - I knew I would never have been able to remain calm, and me being in hysterics wouldn't do anyone any good. My boy, of course, had no idea he was going anyway. The YO and my friend were with him as they were people who handled him regularly and he trusted them. He went while being at home after receiving treats and lots of special attention...

I thought I was coping in the months following his death. I felt sad, and guilty, and I kept picturing his last moments in my mind's eye, but I told myself it was normal and that it would grow less hard with time, and I did enjoy spending time getting to know my new girl who truly turned out to be my horse-of-a-lifetime.

However, a year later, I crashed. I ended up having to quit my job after developing what was later diagnosed as panic disorder with severe panic attacks. I was eventually forced to sell my girl in 2013 because my illness meant I couldn't handle working and so couldn't afford to keep her. I also eventually had problems taking her out on hacks at times due to the panic attacks... It wasn't fair on her so I let her go to a lovely lady who lives nearby. I was absolutely devastated.

I do go to therapy for the panic disorder, but I don't really find it helpful with regards to getting back into horses which is what I would love to be able to do. My therapist's comment on losing my boy was "tell yourself he has gone to the horse version of heaven"... Needless to say I haven't brought up the subject with him after that. I do think I made the right and responsible decision for my boy at the time, and I do know I gave him five good years with me, but it doesn't make it any easier to bear.

For anyone who has gone through a similar predicament of putting a ~healthy horse down - how do you cope with the guilt and the aftermath?

And for anyone who suffers from panic attacks no matter the cause - how do you handle them when it comes to riding and being around horses?

I would love nothing more than to get back into riding if not on my own horse, but at this point I fear I might not be able to...
 

paddi22

Well-Known Member
Joined
5 December 2010
Messages
6,215
I don't think the 'put to sleep; issue is the main cause of it, it seems like a trigger for an underlying issue you have. I had a similar issue and went to an excellent hypnotherapist (expensive tho) and the main issue came out after one or two sessions. And the issue that I DID think was causing it was just a symptom of an underlying issue.
 

Ditchjumper2

Well-Known Member
Joined
17 September 2009
Messages
1,391
Location
East Anglia
I don't think the 'put to sleep; issue is the main cause of it, it seems like a trigger for an underlying issue you have. I had a similar issue and went to an excellent hypnotherapist (expensive tho) and the main issue came out after one or two sessions. And the issue that I DID think was causing it was just a symptom of an underlying issue.

Totally agree with this. Don't fixate on what happened to your old boy. Your horse so your decision. Don't worry just seek help, it will take time but it can be sorted x
 

MargotC

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 April 2014
Messages
868
I don't think the 'put to sleep; issue is the main cause of it, it seems like a trigger for an underlying issue you have. I had a similar issue and went to an excellent hypnotherapist (expensive tho) and the main issue came out after one or two sessions. And the issue that I DID think was causing it was just a symptom of an underlying issue.

Hi, thanks for your reply.

This is interesting. I hadn't quite thought of it this way. I considered myself to be perfectly sound of mind before this all happened which was partly why it took me so long to be diagnosed (and acknowledge there actually was a problem - I should, perhaps, have sought help before it escalated into this... my excuse being I had no idea it could or would escalate into this). I tied it to having had him put down as it was the most traumatic thing I had (and have) experienced. Knock on wood. My life has had a few bumps in it before this happened but I had thought I was coping with those... But you may well be right in that this was what pushed me over the edge.

Out of interest re: the hypnotherapy - presuming one tries it and finds an underlying issue - where do you go from there?
 

Spot_the_Risk

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 May 2007
Messages
7,583
Location
Devon
I'm so sorry for the grief you're feeling. I have no advise to give, but do hope you can find a way through this, best wishes to you.
 

MargotC

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 April 2014
Messages
868
Totally agree with this. Don't fixate on what happened to your old boy. Your horse so your decision. Don't worry just seek help, it will take time but it can be sorted x

Hi, thanks for the encouragement. You could be right in that I should try not to fixate on it. I suppose me being able to talk about it is an improvement of sorts, so perhaps it will be easier to move on after having 'let it out' (I can only hope).
 

MotherOfChickens

MotherDucker
Joined
3 May 2007
Messages
16,641
Location
Weathertop
I don't know if it could help you or not, but I totally recommend Jo Cooper who is a horse rider, used to be a PCT counsellor and now practices TFT for all sorts of confidence issues including riding. She helped me get over a mounting problem (I once had a horse go over with me when mounting) but also helped me get over some unresolved grief I had over a family member and some enormous guilt and grief over the death of a dog I had. It was quite unexpected that I needed help for that and that she could help me with it but I am forever grateful to her. Maybe something to bear in mind.
 

MargotC

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 April 2014
Messages
868
I don't know if it could help you or not, but I totally recommend Jo Cooper who is a horse rider, used to be a PCT counsellor and now practices TFT for all sorts of confidence issues including riding. She helped me get over a mounting problem (I once had a horse go over with me when mounting) but also helped me get over some unresolved grief I had over a family member and some enormous guilt and grief over the death of a dog I had. It was quite unexpected that I needed help for that and that she could help me with it but I am forever grateful to her. Maybe something to bear in mind.

Hi, thanks for your reply! I am glad you found this helpful. I am presently based overseas but this absolutely sounds like something I might benefit from, too. I suppose it could be an idea to dig around a little for someone providing similar services here. It's a great idea.
 

Fun Times

Well-Known Member
Joined
9 January 2014
Messages
1,301
You have my sympathy, it must be horrid for you. Just wondering whether you are on any type of medication that could be making things worse? I had a period of taking very strong prescription painkillers and long term use resulted in me having panic attacks and feeling like I couldnt cope with life. Stopping taking them also affected me badly but in other ways. Just a thought as I was surprised by the effect they had on me. Good luck finding an answer, I hope you find help somewhere.
 

MargotC

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 April 2014
Messages
868
You have my sympathy, it must be horrid for you. Just wondering whether you are on any type of medication that could be making things worse? I had a period of taking very strong prescription painkillers and long term use resulted in me having panic attacks and feeling like I couldnt cope with life. Stopping taking them also affected me badly but in other ways. Just a thought as I was surprised by the effect they had on me. Good luck finding an answer, I hope you find help somewhere.

Thank you for your kind words. x

I'm not taking anything for any other issues, and nor for this. I have an inherent distrust of anxiolytics and I don't believe they do anything other than mask the symptoms of a problem as opposed to providing a lasting solution. (I have to say I wonder if some medications aren't a double-edged sword as they can help with one issue but create others... I am sorry you had your experience with that...)

It's a really good point though, had I been on medication I would definitely have made sure to look into any potential side effects.
 
Last edited:

MotherOfChickens

MotherDucker
Joined
3 May 2007
Messages
16,641
Location
Weathertop
Hi, thanks for your reply! I am glad you found this helpful. I am presently based overseas but this absolutely sounds like something I might benefit from, too. I suppose it could be an idea to dig around a little for someone providing similar services here. It's a great idea.

email her anyway, I think Jo does oversees work or she may be able to recommend someone. Personally I think I found her so effective because she was trained as a counsellor as well as the TFT (which I was very skeptical about).
 

MargotC

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 April 2014
Messages
868
email her anyway, I think Jo does oversees work or she may be able to recommend someone. Personally I think I found her so effective because she was trained as a counsellor as well as the TFT (which I was very skeptical about).

Oh, then I might just do that... anything that could help me move on somewhat from this would be a blessing.
 

Tobiano

Well-Known Member
Joined
1 August 2010
Messages
4,233
Location
Norfolk
hi MargotC. So sorry to read this and sending you hugs. some very thoughtful replies on here and I hope there is something that you will find helpful. FWIW, may I say that I think you did the responsible thing for your horse under the circumstances. x x
 

Custard Cream

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 April 2011
Messages
2,505
I agree with the poster who said its probably an underlying issue that having your horse PTS has triggered.
 

MargotC

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 April 2014
Messages
868
hi MargotC. So sorry to read this and sending you hugs. some very thoughtful replies on here and I hope there is something that you will find helpful. FWIW, may I say that I think you did the responsible thing for your horse under the circumstances. x x

Hi, thank you for saying that. x

I was a bit apprehensive about posting but it seems I needn't be. I do feel guilty for doing it when I knew he had more good years in him (albeit perhaps not as a ride) but as it was I couldn't guarantee for the quality of those years if I had sold him on and so PTS did end up seeming the only responsible option. But I was definitely not prepared for what it entailed and how it would come to affect me. Looking back I suppose I was a bit naive taking on ownership of a horse without thinking about how it might end (then again who expects having to put down a horse that young... none I should hope).
 

MargotC

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 April 2014
Messages
868
I agree with the poster who said its probably an underlying issue that having your horse PTS has triggered.

Hi, it's a new way of thinking about it for me and it is interesting that you are saying the same! I will definitely make sure to bring it up with my therapist and see where we might go from there. I think anything would be worth looking into at this point as I don't want to go on like this, that's for sure.
 

LittleRooketRider

Well-Known Member
Joined
31 March 2013
Messages
1,335
Location
Dorset
I cannot help with your panic attacks but i can offer my empathy...I had to go through pts of my young horse, I'd barely ah her a year but I'd well and truly fallen in love with her.

I know how you feel (((Hugs)))
 

YorksG

Over the hill and far awa
Joined
14 September 2006
Messages
16,119
Location
West Yorkshire
The horse you bought was days from death when you got him, every day he enjoyed with you was one he wouldn't have had. It sometimes helps to look at things from a different angle.
 

LessThanPerfect

Well-Known Member
Joined
22 March 2014
Messages
347
So sorry to hear your story. I know exactly how you feel. I suffered severe post traumatic stress disorder following a car accident that left me disabled with a central nervous system problem and severe mobility issues. That was many years ago but I still go through periods of panic at the thought of leaving the house. Unfortunately, despite many years of counselling and therapy I have to take beta-blockers to get through it.

Sending you my best wishes and hope that you manage to find a way to handle the panics.
 

MargotC

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 April 2014
Messages
868
The horse you bought was days from death when you got him, every day he enjoyed with you was one he wouldn't have had. It sometimes helps to look at things from a different angle.

Hi, you make a very valid point, and I do feel good for taking him on in the first place. I know for a fact he fared a lot better with me than he did at his first home. I suppose part of me feels like I failed him at the end, or perhaps like I didn't try hard enough, but of course that is a moot point as what's done is done and I saw no other way out (and of course I would never consider PTS the easy way out as evidenced by my reaction to it). Hopefully I can eventually reconcile myself with that.
 

Splashy pony

Well-Known Member
Joined
23 March 2013
Messages
160
Location
Abingdon
So sorry that you are feeling this loss. I had a healthy, but suddenly blind horse pts. He didn't suffer because I chose his end. Scarily powerful,but how good for him? His life was rounded and safe. Every additional day would have been difficult and stressful. The decision you made was the right one. You had the power to stop his life becoming worse and you made a timely decision. Getting another horse isn't related to the loss of the first. I hope your next horse can hope for such a caring guardian.
 

MargotC

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 April 2014
Messages
868
I cannot help with your panic attacks but i can offer my empathy...I had to go through pts of my young horse, I'd barely ah her a year but I'd well and truly fallen in love with her.

I know how you feel (((Hugs)))

Hi, thank you for your support. x

I am very sorry you lost your girl, it is hard no matter how or why it happens...
 

MargotC

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 April 2014
Messages
868
So sorry to hear your story. I know exactly how you feel. I suffered severe post traumatic stress disorder following a car accident that left me disabled with a central nervous system problem and severe mobility issues. That was many years ago but I still go through periods of panic at the thought of leaving the house. Unfortunately, despite many years of counselling and therapy I have to take beta-blockers to get through it.

Sending you my best wishes and hope that you manage to find a way to handle the panics.

Hi, I am so sorry to hear that. x

Panic attacks can be truly, horrifyingly crippling and I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined just how bad it can be before it happened to me... I would not wish it on anyone. I really want to combat it or at least find a way to live with it without resorting to medication but it is definitely a struggle.

Thank you for your support, have some solid hugs back, I really admire you for dealing with it for so long x
 
Last edited:

MargotC

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 April 2014
Messages
868
So sorry that you are feeling this loss. I had a healthy, but suddenly blind horse pts. He didn't suffer because I chose his end. Scarily powerful,but how good for him? His life was rounded and safe. Every additional day would have been difficult and stressful. The decision you made was the right one. You had the power to stop his life becoming worse and you made a timely decision. Getting another horse isn't related to the loss of the first. I hope your next horse can hope for such a caring guardian.

Hi, I am so sorry to hear of your loss... that must have been so unexpected. I think you have a very good point about making a timely decision (no matter how hard it turns out to be after the fact). I could never have forgiven myself if he had for example been sold on and ended up passed from pillar to post either, so I suppose in a way I did choose the lesser of two evils. At least I don't have to live with the uncertainty of what might have become of him.

Have a hug x
 

windand rain

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 November 2012
Messages
8,517
Sorry you are suffering now perhaps although you have done nothing wrong you need to forgive yourself and let it move behind you. I dont think you can move on until you rid yourself of guilt. By this I am not in anyway condemning your actions but perhaps you are. You gave him a wonderful life and a secure end you have nothing to be guilty about. Sometimes it helps just to write these things down and get them out of your system and onto paper which ultimately you can burn and dispose of the guilt
Take care PTSD is not a thing I would wish on anyone it is very debilitating
 

Lolo

Well-Known Member
Joined
19 August 2008
Messages
10,267
I agree with the poster who said its probably an underlying issue that having your horse PTS has triggered.

I'm inclined to agree with this.

I have panic attacks, which come as part of my anxiety disorder. I find I'm fine around horses because they are pretty much the opposite of triggering for me. But obviously they aren't for you.

Are you having counselling? I have had some, and am booked for some more. And group sessions too. I find those very helpful because they can normalise things a bit more. Panic attacks especially are very isolating and I find meeting up with people and just chatting about how we cope and deal with them and what happens to us makes me feel less like a freak.
 

Illusion100

Well-Known Member
Joined
17 January 2014
Messages
3,625
Location
Probably on my way to A&E
OP, so sorry to hear of your loss and difficulties. :(

Wish I could offer advice but feel everyone grieves and reacts individually, however know many will people empathise and sympathise with you.

I wish you all the very best and hope you can recover in time and continue with a happy and successful life with any endeavour you chose. xx
 

OldNag

Wasting my time successfully....
Joined
23 July 2011
Messages
10,966
Location
Somewhere south of the middle
I wish I could offer some practical advice. The hypnotherapy suggestion sounds worth exploring.
Just wanted to say I really feel for you. What a lucky horse to have found you, and I do think you made the right decision.
Big hug x
 
Top