As I said , I have been thinking . About horses, and other animals . And when , we decide to let them go . Either sell or re home horses that we cannot manage . Or in the sad situation of a horse or a pet who has reached a level of age or disease that it is no longer feasible to maintain them .
Part of what has brought this thought process on is the team of Morgans we own . They are beautiful horses and a snappy team , but they are hot! Dad quite enjoyed driving them when we first got them , but time gets away on us , and they didn't get a lot of use . Add to that dad is having a rough time with his hip, it is not likely that he will drive a team again anytime soon. And certainly not a team of pistols! And to be brutally honest ,I don't want to drive a team. I drove Sunshine single for several years , and loved it , but have no particular interest in going further. maybe someday again I will want to drive a single horse, but as far as teams go? I am happy to bundle up with some fortified hot chocolate and sit in someone else's sleigh !
I made a deal ,last year to trade my fancy gelding Badger , for some "refresher training" on the blacks. Badger was another "hotter than a pistol" guy that I had ridden , but who needed a full time job. We have a young friend who took him on and I am pleased to report ,he LOVES him. He is using him outfitting , and also on community pasture work . Told me "it doesn't matter what you rope ,Ole Badge will get it to where you need it ! He has no bottom , and loves to work!" I couldn't be happier about that ,I loved the horse, but was feeling like he was wasted here. And he was quite simply too good a horse to let that happen to. SO he is one that I chose to ,in effect raise a white flag, concede if not defeat ,at least that I was over matched and sent him on to bigger and better things .
Bug also was one who turned out to be too much horse for her owner and we sold her this summer .
I was talking to dad about the blacks last night , and also the fellow working with them , and we have come to the conclusion that they too will need to move on from here . The trick with that is to find ,just the right fit for them .
I am finding just also of late I am reducing the numbers in a way, keeping only the type of horse I really enjoy working with . Quiet steady , sane .The ones I raise . Now I sell some of them too, but that is part of the business , but the ones I sell with my farm name attached (as in I bred them here, they all sell in my name I am not hiding it ) are consistently quiet easy to manage using horses I am too old and arthritic to manage the pistols anymore .
As to the older ,infirm , ill or injured animals , that can be as hard or harder to wave that white flag and quit . Many more things come into play , costs, time , emotions etc .
My old housecat Diesel is getting a bit stiff and sore, she looks less like a tough mean "queen of the house" and is starting to look a little frail. No forgive me , but at her advanced age, I am not going to likely take her in for intense diagnostics, I will keep her as comfortable as possible and when it is no longer possible to ensure her quality of life I will have he put down . Plain and simple. There are a few things I can likely do to mitigate some of her pain ,but that is a conversation that needs to happen with the vet ,cats are funny and quite sensitive to some meds , and I don't want to trade one problem for another (ie ,pain management for severe GI upset ) Its easier with a cat or dog, in some ways because you can keep them indoors and warm and safe. A Horse on the other hand, becomes a larger issue .
Chips (mentioned in the honorable mention from last week) when he became ill ,suffered from congestive heart failure. I was offered the option of medicating him to extend his life, but it would have been severely limited, he would have been in a stall (which he hated) and it would only have extended his life a short time . Rather than do that I chose to euthanize him , maintaining his (or my perception of ) his dignity . My greatest fear, living here in the snowy north is to wait too long , and have one of my beloved horse go down in the cold and be unable to get back up. My old mare Togy did just that as a result of a fall , and I have never really forgiven myself for not finding her in time (it was a matter of minutes to an hour but... )
My friend deb, chose to put her sweet Blue down at a much younger age than most 16 but he was in debilitating pain, and we were no longer able to adequately manage it . Yes he could still stand and walk, but it was clearly painful for him , and again side effects of long term pain management in the form of medications do take their toll .
So the choices are difficult. I am not against diagnostic testing, in fact in a animal who is young with a reasonable quality of life and health I am all for it , that said , I cannot , and will not spend the "grocery " money for my herd and family on one horse .But I will do something! One thing I hate to see is the attitude "I don't know what to do so I will do nothing! As stewards of these animals it is our job to care for them and maintain their qality of life ,and if not to end it . There is never a good reason to just let them suffer while we think about it !
It is a tough business to be in and can be truly heartbreaking to make those difficult choices. If all problems could be fixed by throwing money at them...
Sometimes no amount of money, time or love will change the outcome, and sometimes we need to be strong enough to simply hold up that little white flag and say, I surrender!
Balance all that with the years of poor joy we get form those horse, and or pets that are truly the right fit for us, and I think it is still more than worth it .
SOP forgive the ramble friends, I do have these flights of fancy now and then.
Stay safe, and warm!