When to Euthanize


When do we euthanize? The obvious times are easy for us although still as painful – but what about those other times?


Let me tell you about my situation.


CaptureI have a 26 year old mare that came to me as a rescue. She was a rideable mare that had been used as a broodmare year after year. I have now owned her for 8 years. My daughter is 9 and they have been everywhere together. She is the type of horse you can let your child get out of the pasture and ride around all day long with a halter and lead rope and never worry about them. She is a true babysitter.


12 months ago a lump developed under her tail. We had the vet look at it and it was diagnosed as cancer. Unfortunately it was already extensive so we decided at this point to retire her from exercise and let her enjoy life.


She is eating, has great weight and is moving around. While she does all these she can stay and enjoy her life. She has earned this.


I explained this to my daughter and she started to check her to make sure she ate all her food and hay and check her lump for any changes.


Recently, 6 months ago, the lump opened. We called the vet out and it had grown. He said she looked good so we could keep it clean and keep her going. It didn’t seem to bother her and it wasn’t bleeding, more like a bed sore, so we decided to give it some time to see how it went. It has since started to grow and recently I have noticed her pasture buddy will not leave her side. His nose is against her side at all times and he herds her where she needs to go. Even at feed times he brings her to her feed bucket. It’s funny how horses sense things. I have given my daughter a time frame – the end of the month to come terms with what we must do.


Some of you may think I should do more. Some of you may think I should have euthanized already. I’m still not sure where I stand with this girl. I wish so much we could turn back time and I’d found her before she ever had to go through what she went through, yet I’m thankful she’s had a chance to live for some years not having to wonder if she was going to miss a meal that evening.


My vet says either way this girl is going to die whether we euthanize or let the cancer kill her.


I told my daughter I would rather euthanize now while she is in somewhat good health, looking good and happy, before she is in pain and wondering why we are not helping her and why she is so cold and losing weight. I want this wonderful mare to leave this world with dignity. I want my daughter to understand when to say goodbye.



Thank you to Janeene Bedell for her touching contribution to this weeks blog.