Having horses or any animal for that matter is not for the faint of heart. It comes with many trials and tribulations. It comes with a lot of love, dedication and responsibility. With that being said it also comes with a hard truth. You will more than likely live out the life of your animals whether you like it or not and hard choices have to be made. But when is the "right" time to let go?
The answer to that question varies. It depends on your animal or you as a person. In my area I have seen many let go by selling off older stock before the decision has to be made. Is that the right thing to do? To me, the answer is simple no. I believe we have a responsibility to these animals to care for them until their time comes. They are all loyal servants for us it is the least we can do to be there for them in that time. But on the other hand maybe these people can't afford the costs of that time and hope that somehow they will land into the hands that can do them that service.
That time can come in old age when maybe they can't hold weight on anymore, it can happen when colic strikes, when a disease happens, a foal is born with issues, or like my recent experience the health the animal is in could become problematic or dangerous in the near future.
I am writing this because I am seeing a lot of posts on FaceBook of horses being put to rest and I also had to so last month to one of my favorites. No matter how many I have lost over the years I have lived it never gets any easier. It was hardest this time because the mare was in her prime. She was 15 years old and I had hoped so much to get an embryo off her to transfer in another mare. She was my last connection to my youth and my first Arabian mare. But it would have been selfish of me to keep her going down the path she was. She was a grey and of course had the dreaded melanomas that sometimes consume these beautiful creatures. But that wasn't her only issue. She also had fractured her pelvis and basically got around on three legs. My main concern was that the melanomas blinded her in one eye, they were starting to close her anal area, and she became almost impossible to handle before I made my decision. Normally she was the sweetest, kindest mare you would ever come across and so easy to lead and handle my kids could do. Before I called my vet she become impossible to lead at times, running you over, hard to catch and even almost impossible to trim. Her quality of life was diminishing and the only explanation was she lived in fear constantly or the melanomas were eating her brain causing a neurological issue. It was time to let go. It was time to do her the last service I could do for her and let her rest in peace before her life got too out of control. Is it an easy decision? No, it never is. But it is our responsibility as their caregivers to do the right thing by them. Always.
It is hard but when their quality of life has gone we have to let go before they suffer further. Another controversial issue surrounding this subject is letting go when you can no longer afford to keep them. This can happen through sale, giving them away or even still sending them over the rainbow bridge. I know a lot of criticism is left to the last option but honestly is it so bad? A friend of mine broke her leg and she was left in rehab with no idea when she would get out. Her friends were caring for her horses but that was short lived. Should she risk selling them to unknown buyers or "let go". She chose to let them go in peace. They were both around 20 or younger and healthy mares. But she chose to say goodbye versus letting them possibly go down a road of neglect, starvation and abuse. In my eyes she saved them. Selling horses is a risky business. Often they end up in homes that aren't the best for them. Either ignorance in horse care or delusional dreams cause many to become overrun with too many horses and the horses end up in a neglectful situation. Do these people not love the horses? No, I believe they do love them but their dreams and ambitions fog their minds and they also need to learn to "let go".
My name is Sarah Clower and I am the owner of Sahanad Preservation Farm. I have spent my life with horses and been breeding for 17 years now. I recently earned my Bachelors degree in Equine Studies with a focus in Business Management. My focus for this blog is to educate as well as learn from my readers.