Euthanasia of your horse

A difficult decision

As horse owners sometimes we are faced with very difficult and heart breaking decisions regarding euthanasia.

This is an issue which is more likely with older horses but can occur at any time.

Horses can get ill or injured very quickly and unexpectedly so it is a good idea to plan ahead and decide what you would do in certain situations.

Not just older horses

Even those with a youngster, a horse on loan or one which they plan to re home in the future should be aware of end-of-life options because illness or accidents can happen at any time and at any age.

This is a situation which most owners would prefer not to think about, but one which can be made less painful if the appropriate plans have already been put in place and you know where to go for support.

Responsible horse ownership and welfare often focus on the aspects of care in giving your horse a good life but equally important is the responsibility to make sure they have a good death when the time comes.

Research

The latest research from Advancing Equine Scientific Excellence (AESE) showed that only 1 in 8 horses die of natural causes, which means in the other 7 cases the decision to euthanase will have to be made either electively or in an emergency.

In the case of any death, regardless of whether it is due to euthanasia or natural causes, there are matters that need to be considered and this is far easier to do in advance of any problem.

Consideration

Considering your horse’s quality of life is imperative when thinking about euthanasia and whilst it is not an easy decision to make, the implications in delaying it can have a much greater impact on their welfare and on your peace of mind.

Further advice

World Horse Welfare have produced two leaflets to help make the decision easier.

1. ‘Just in Case: The Facts’ clearly and sensitively explains all aspects of the situation, such as the options available and what to expect, how to make the decision, insurance and legislation issues, and whether you should be there.

2. ‘Just in Case: Owner’s Plan’ provides a clear form which can be completed in advance. You can also use this to be certain everyone knows what choices you would make even if you can’t be contacted in an emergency.

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