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07Aug 14

The thing you really don't want to think about

When you are thinking of buying a horse, there are lots of things you have to consider. One of the things to think about carefully is the one thing you never like to think about. One day your horse will probably have to be put down. Hopefully because of old age, sometimes because of an injury or a disease.

In the twenty five years I have owned horses I had to make that decision more than once. My farrier at the time, Brian Webber, gave me some great advice: You, as an owner should probably not be holding your own horse when it is put down. Your emotional state could very well worry your horse. Ask a dear and competent horse connection to do it for you.

It made sense at the time and several times I took his advice. The last one, however, my very loyal Prix St. George horse Marie, was a different matter altogether. She was not to be trusted with others and I knew it had to be me at the other end of the rope. It went as well as it possibly could….. for her. I was proud of the accomplishment, but traumatised.

It is different from a dog or a cat, somehow. That is because it’s so very big and to put it bluntly it makes a terrible thumping sound when this huge body lands on the ground. That’s what they call dead weight.

Also, for your vet it doesn’t make things any easier when confronted with your emotions. For them it is something that comes with the job but not something they enjoy doing. It is important for them, in order to do it right, to be able to concentrate and not to be distracted by your emotions.

So I do think my friend Brian was right. He had some more advice, though. He thought shooting was better than injecting. Being from Holland, it never occurred to me to have your horse shot. But I did see the point Brian tried to make about how quick it went and how slow sometimes the injection is. So I did that several times. Somehow, when it came to having to hold Marie, I could not face up to the shooting. Since that time I have held more horses when put down by injection. I honestly have never seen a horse worry and do not think there is much in it. Also, if your horse needed an operation it would go through the same initial thing.

A horse can’t think in the future so it does not know whether the injection is for getting better or in order to die.

Oh, and one more piece of advice: don’t wait too long and keep the suffering to a minimum. We owe them that, after everything they have done for us.



Anybody home? :)
KristinaJib, 3rd April 2020

Dressage Training

Dressage training needs variety, including pole work

Dressage Training

Dressage training needs variety, including pole work

About Liz Barclay

Her love for horses together with her dedication made her into the trainer and dressage rider she is, today. She is versatile and inventive and likes a challenge; whether it is a technical training question, a confidence issue or a problem involving the management of the horse or pony.


My book 'THE FARMER, THE COAL MERCHANT, THE BAKER...' with the subtitle 'A Personal Impression of the Development of the Gelderland Horse World' has been received with more enthusiasm than I possibly could have hoped for. Click here to contact me and I will send you a copy. £7.50 + postage, or click here to order from Amazon.