The Future

I apologise if this becomes a bit morbid, but I think the last twelve months have made us all more aware of our mortality. I think most people have been affected by Covid-19. For some, it’s taken an ill or elderly relative sooner than anticipated. For others, there’s been the shock death of a seemingly healthy friend or relative.

When faced with a life deadline, illness or old age, you can get your affairs in order. Ensure family know your wishes with regards to horses and pets. But as a young, healthy person, it’s not the top of my mind, for sure. But perhaps we should all take five minutes to let our closest know how we want to care for our four legged friends. Just in case.

Someone once told me that their will stated that their horse should be euthanized upon their death, on the basis that no one else could keep him in the manner she did. I felt that was egotistical, as we all try to give our horses the best care possible. But begrudgingly, I feel there is a point to be made here.

It sounds callous, to have your horse put down when you die, when they may have plenty of life left in them. But horses are a luxury, an expense. And if the family you have left have neither the time nor money to care for your horse after you’ve gone, then it is better to have them euthanased than for them to suffer neglect, or to be sold to an unsuitable home, or to end up in a rescue centre. I recently saw a fiery debate on social media about two horses who’s owner had died and the family couldn’t afford to keep them, so we’re having them put down. Initially, it seemed that there should be an alternative for two apparently healthy horses. But upon closer inspection, both horses were in their mid twenties, very attached to each other, and had some management issues. Reading that, I soon changed my mind to agree with the family, and thought it more responsible of them to take this route rather than abandon the horses to a charity.

There are several options when planning your horse’s next stage of life. Horses are financially taxing, so perhaps leave some money to help support them. Or ensure the person you’ve entrusted their care to is financially stable and able to afford to feed an extra mouth. Be realistic about your horse’s future. If they’re old, or retired with injury then they have very little resale value. A friend or family may want a companion, but otherwise my gut feeling is that it is better for everyone, if you leave clear end of life instructions. Those left behind don’t feel obligated to struggle to care for the horse, or have to morally wrestle with themselves to make a decision for you.

I do think that a young, healthy, fit horse, who still has much to give, should be given the chance to adopt a new family after you’ve gone, but again it’s worth ensuring family know your wishes in selling – whether you want them to sell via a dealer, or have a type of home in mind, etc.

A few years ago my parents told me they were leaving Matt to me in their will, but had decided that it was a back handed gift because of the costs and time involved. Which means my brother doesn’t get an equivalent “gift”. Unless he gets the family tortoise, who has so far been passed from my Uncle, to my Grandad, to my brother, to my parents…

It’s hard putting decisions like this in writing (I can’t even write my decision on here!), but verbalising your thoughts is easier, and it’s something that needs to be discussed with loved ones so they know what to do in the worst case scenario; to safeguard their future as well as your horse’s.

So apologies for the slightly depressing subject, but the last few weeks I’ve felt that it’s a topic that needs addressing, particularly with all the uncertainty in the world right now. To lighten the mood, enjoy these photos of Otis being his usual lovable, cuddly self, and long-suffering Phoenix allowing a toy to ride her.

6 thoughts on “The Future

  1. Georgina crickett Mar 19, 2021 / 6:57 am

    I was weirdly thinking about this the other day…. still no idea what I should do. 🤞🤞 Jake still ridding and wants/can have them…. x

  2. Niamh Armitage Mar 19, 2021 / 7:15 am

    Such an important topic. Well done for raising awareness.
    We left a financial provision in our will for my elderly mare to live out her days at her livery yard. The owner of the yard had “power of attorney” to decide when it was time for her to be put down if necessary.
    We are still here and my mare is no longer with us, so this provision was never needed but I was much happier knowing she was provided for.

  3. Schmitt Mar 19, 2021 / 5:11 pm

    My mom passed and left four horses and a pony. The horses, though 3 were over twenty, were all in good health and well trained. Mom had not had a plan and we scrambled to find people who could take them – and ended up with the best possible people. They went to our vet’s assistant, their sire’s owner, and my childhood horse club leader. The 36 year old pony, who had Cushing’s and was eating through $100 of feed a month, we put down. It was the only smart decision but I still tear up thinking about having had to do it. I was able to have the pony buried on that farm where she spent her whole life, and I spread wildflower seeds on the site. It’s not much, but it’s something.

    • therubbercurrycomb Mar 24, 2021 / 10:54 pm

      It’s tough making the decision for someone after they’ve gone isn’t it? A friend of ours lost her partner to Covid in January then in February his retired horse went lame – vet checks showed arthritic fetlocks. She had to then make the decision to put him down. It was a straight forward decision because the horse was obviously in pain, but never in her wildest dreams did she expect to have the horse without her partner and I think that in itself was very daunting.
      So perhaps a blessing in disguise.

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