Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tall Tale Tuesday

 Our story today comes from  EverStuffRanch.blogspot.com.

It's a realistic look at our relationship and responsibility when it comes to the animals we share our lives with. It's also a wake-up call for those who point their fingers and judge without knowing the entire story. 

I can afford to keep two horses.

     Having livestock means having to make hard choices. They are entrusted into our care. We keep them for food, we keep them for protection, we keep them for companions. Eventually we are going to have to make a decision about them for end of life.

     We decide when it's time to be butchered, when it's time to move on to someone else's care. We decide when it's time to put them out of their misery, or end suffering. It's up to us to know when to sell one to be able to feed the ones that are left so no one starves to death. 

     Recently I had to make a terribly hard choice. Many people would not agree with me, but I had to find somewhere else for Apache, my blind gelding. He was finally completely blind. He may have been able to see some shadows far away, but he was blind.

     He was doing fairly well out in the pasture all by himself. As long as he didn't have any contact with the other horses, he didn't lose his mind. If we tried to take Ben past him, or off the property, he paced, he whinnied, he tried to plunge around and not move at the same time. It was so very sad to watch him lunge forwards three paces then pull up short, spin around and lunge forwards again. I tried putting him out front with the cows. He paced so much he made the front pasture a bog, and bruised his coronet bands.

     I brought him in the dry lot and fed him hay, but when the winds came, and we get hellacious winds here in Idaho, he freaked out trying to find shelter from the blowing sand. He knew the fence was near but still tried to bolt that three paces, spin and try and bolt again. Trying to walk up to him and catch him to put him in the round pen was dangerous. He didn't want to listen or pay attention to where I was standing to avoid running me over.

     The round pen was the only safe fencing for him. He couldn't hear Dave's horses out back and worried himself into a frenzy trying alllll day and night long to find a way out of the pen. He was losing weight no matter how much I fed him. He banged into the water barrel, tripped over it, scabbed up his shins.

     I put Apache out on the short pasture again, and in trying to find his way to Ben, he bumped the wire fence pretty hard. It wasn't hot, but it was enough to knock some of the wire out of the insulators and bring the top of the fence down. He got tangled up in it. Apache managed to get free before I ran out there, but what if he didn't? What if I hadn't been home?

     I've been so judgmental in my head about the sad ads I see on Craigslist from awful owners who want to dump their poor old horse that's too old to be pumping out babies, or ride any more. That poor old/or crippled horse who has devoted their whole life to making babies, or giving trail rides, and now
that it's not useful anymore, you want to dump it at the sale. You know what's going to happen at the sale. The meat man is going to buy it, and ship it to the processor, and it's going to go for dog food. But hey, it didn't happen where you can see it, so it's ok, Right?

     I see ads for horses that are permanently lame, I've know a few people who sent their horse to the sale, or have an unrideable horse out on their property and they are talking about making the decision to send the horse to the sale. "I won't keep a horse I can't use. I can't afford to keep a pasture pet." I've always looked down my nose and thought, "That is so uncaring." Euthanasia costs a lot more than some people can afford. And then there's the problem of having the deceased animal hauled away. That ain't cheap either.

     Now I'm faced with a blind gelding and unsafe fencing for him. This is my heart horse. He's small, he's got steep shoulders, an ewe neck, thin chest, scrawny mane and high withers. And I love him. He walks out faster than any other horse I've ridden, he will come over and let you love on him all day, he loves to go out and see the world and ride all day, and he's got ERU, and he's totally blind. He's only 7.
     I know I can afford to feed two horses.

     I'm going to miss out on a lot of the riding plans we had for the future. I can't take him hunting up in the mountains. Sure people ride and compete on completely blind horses all the time. On The Flat. Not in the mountains. Some of the places we ride I've asked myself, are we really going to make it out of here with out some one going ass over tea kettle, and needing a trailer to come haul us out?

     I can afford to feed only two horses. 

     All of a sudden I find myself realizing where the people I've looked down my nose at are coming from, and it's not a nice place to be.

     So I called Steve. He's the horse trader I got Ben from. I didn't want to have to take him to the sale. It would have been a terrifying nightmare for him to try and run him through the sale. I didn't want to think about him in a feed lot getting ready to be on a truck bound for Canada when he can't see. I don't have the money to euth him and have him hauled off.

     Steve agreed on coming out to take a look and see what my options were. I know what Steve is. I know the horses he buys sometimes end up at the sale and on a truck with the kill buyer. He doesn't try and hide it. He's a horse trader and everyone knows it.
  Steve and his wife came out with their truck and trailer. I got Apache haltered and he got some hands on with him. He agreed with me that he wasn't dangerous. He stopped when Steve intentionally stopped in front of him and didn't say Whoa. Apache just bumped him and backed off a few steps. I said to him I was being a realist, that I knew he might end up on the kill buyer truck. He told his wife she had a new horse to ride. See what they could do. He told me he'd put Apache down if things didn't work. He wouldn't ship him. I believe him.

     I cried, I haltered him and led him to the truck. He loaded very cautiously, but jumped up without freaking. I cried some more when they pulled out of the driveway. It was terrible, but it was something that needed to be done before I came home and found him bled out from impaling himself of a tee post, his tendons sliced through to the bone from getting caught in a fence, or worse.   


  1. What a difficult story, to read, to think about enduring, just all the way around. But that's part of owning a horse. I think if I was in that position, I would euthanize. I wouldn't be able to stand the not knowing. But I live in an area where that is cheap and fairly easy to do. Heart breaking.

  2. It is hard to judge when you only have a small excerpt of the story, the entry makes him sound frantic and uncomfortable in his surroundings. Maybe a goat or mini sight buddy would have made things better? It sounds like she was taking his sight buddy away regularly. Making the decision is hard but it is part of the responsibility we accept when we take them on. I would have euthanize if in that same scenario unless I was assured a good home that I could follow up on.
    A bullet is a cheap and effective way to euthanize and would be the option if I was low on funds. Certainly wasn't the outcome I would hope for, I can only hope Apache wasn't shipped off for a few extra dollars.

  3. As a blind horse owner, I'd like to share a link to a fabulous online support group for blind horse owners. The author's statement that blind horses can only be ridden on the flat is incorrect. We have blind horses in our group that jump, as well as competitive trail and even mountain search and rescue. They're only limited by their owners, and I'm not one to tell you what your limits are as I don't even ride mine.


    We are not a resource for finding a new home for your blindie, but we love to help you work through the issues you face in keeping them safe, both safe in their environments and safe around humans. We are a fount of knowledge about causes and treatment options as well (not giving vet advice, but helping you navigate the options your vet gives you) I hope this helps someone out there transition their blindie into a productive, safe, happy horse!

  4. My solution when I had an older horse I no longer used and could not just afford to pay for was to offer him to a new home, free, with the understanding he would come back to me if no longer wanted. Worked out great. But that was 30 years ago and might not fly in today's legally contentious world. Tough decision for this person to have to make.

  5. Why would you let your blind horse go to an uncertain future? Give him a nice meal and let him know he is loved and then euthanize him. It isn't rocket science.

  6. I think this was a very brave story. It is really easy to say what should be done.
    The thing is, it's much easier to "should on" someone when you work in theory and the desire to always make the "right" choice.

  7. Euthanasia of course, the hard but good option, but yes, it's expensive. A $2 dollar bullet is okay if you own a gun, or know someone, but you still have to dispose of the body. Around here, that will cost you over three hundred dollars.

    There have been times in my life where $300 was just about impossible.

    It took a lot of guts and heart for this owner to act before this became a tragedy. There have been times in my life where I could have used that kind of guts & heart.

  8. I recently made the decision to put my (first) horse down (barely manageable pain that would make him dangerous at times). It sucked. Many a crying night wondering if I should or shouldn't. In the end, I decided euth was the best option to 'save his life' if that makes any sense. He got cookies and hugs and is not in pain anymore. I also have a 18 year old that is going blind. He's still got some vision and rides great. If/when he can no longer live happily as a member of the herd I will feed him cookies and scratch his butt (his favorite activity - not mine) while the deed is done and I will cry like a baby but know I am doing the right thing. I'm not wealthy and euth is not cheap, but its the task I choose to take as a responsibilty to my horses. I wish I could say I don't judge others, I know I probably shouldn't, but I do. I'm sorry. I live in Texas. I've seen too many loaded trucks heading south. Just because you can close your eyes and wish it isn't true doesn't mean its not happening.

  9. I have no idea how much it cost where this blogger was at, but when I lived in California, a euthanasia fee from the local vet was about $225 (that included the call out fee, and an exam - they wouldn't perform the euthanasia without it.)

    Disposal fee was... I can't quite remember, but I think it was $330?

    When I was looking down this route one time I did find a friend willing to put my horse down with a bullet, and I even found someone who was willing to let me use his land, but renting a backhoe/operator to dig the hole was way too expensive.

    This story took guts to share. And I know I'm opening a can of worms by saying this, but I think what the author did is actually more humane than letting him linger in fear and pain. Don't get me started on people who keep their elderly pets alive long after they're begging to be set free.

  10. Long time reader commenting for the first time because this story made me mad. I am shocked that so many folks are saying "brave," "guts," good job, etc.

    Bottom line is, this person gave her horse away to a dealer who might very well turn around and sell him to a kill buyer. Now, maybe he's the one dealer in the universe with a heart of gold. But realistically, unless the writer is coming by to visit on a regular basis (she makes no indication she will) or has a contract (she doesn't) she has no way to know. (Even then, she'd only find out after the fact that he got shipped.) Yes, dealers have pets too but how many stories do we hear of the "good home" sending someone's pet to a sale.

    My mom has a horse she "loans." Someone gives her $500, she gives them the horse, when they don't need him or aren't using him anymore, they give him back to her and she gives them their $500 back. She knows where he is and knows he's going to come back to her. It's not rocket science.

    "I can afford to keep two horses." No, you can't. If you can't afford to humanely destroy your critter, a responsible person will admit they can't afford the critter in the first place. What if one of your horses got hurt, could you not afford a $500 vet bill? You can't afford two horses.

    Not to mention, there are ways to euth a horse that don't cost much. When I was a teenager my POA went blind. We didn't have facilities for a blind horse so he was hauled (in a familiar trailer) to an exotic animal facility, they shot him and fed him to the lions. For free, except for gas for the truck.

    The writer lives in Idaho where guns and machinery abound. I'm sure 5 minutes on the phone or Facebook would turn up someone willing to come out and shoot the horse and someone with a backhoe willing to dig a hole.

    To me, this is a fine example of what NOT to do: mismanage a blind horse then send him off to an uncertain future.

  11. Oh Maria, you just pushed on of my hottest hot buttons. See you tomorrow.

  12. Maria,

    All I can think is, wow, you either have an enormous strength of character and discipline, or you live a life surrounded by sunshine and raindrops.

    I think that the author really managed to convey just how intensely painful and paralyzing this situation was. These kind of things are debilitating to anyone who truly loves their horse and can't seem to give them what they need.

    So often, us humans remain frozen in fear while we try to find a solution that we can live with, and our horse suffers the consequences. Oftentimes we step away from reality and tell ourselves soothing lies like, "it'll get better" or "we're trying as hard as we can" because we can't seem to break away from the cycle and we can't even face ourselves.

    I found this story to be the story of someone who found themselves in this dark place, and managed to give herself and her horse a chance at a better future.

  13. It absolutely does take bravery to tell a story like this.

    Can't afford to keep two horses? Can't afford to humanely euthanize? Listen up. I can't afford anything. Seriously. I can't afford my two teenagers. But I'm not going to kick them out. I can't afford to drive my truck, which most people would scrap. I'm down to one headlight one wiper one window but I'm limping it down the road. I can't afford my life. Can I afford two horses? Nope. They're fed and fit. I still owe $450 for hay and I'm carrying an equal amount of vet bill.

    I could easily have two more horses, free for the taking. I won't do it. So what can I afford? Realistically? I can say "I can only afford two horses" and I'd be correct, because although it's been a struggle, I'm doing it. But I am constantly worried about a potential situation like the one in this post. What would I do?

    A couple weeks ago I had to euth my cat. There were NO OTHER options. Well... There were. But they were awful. The cost put me back terribly. I should have done it months ago but it would have been a worse financial hardship then.

    We animal lovers sometimes forget that we have to make our own lives the priority. My critters mean the world to me but I have to be sensible. Maybe it's easier for me because I grew up on a working farm and as much as I was taught to respect and care for them, they were not family members.

    This writer went through an awful decision and had to do what was the best of some pretty crappy options. If she'd been in a different situation maybe her choices could have been different. I don't think it's fair to judge. Anybody aware of how many unsound, old, injured, unbroke horses are out there looking for loving forever homes???? There aren't enough loving forever homes to go around.

    When my cat stopped breathing I whispered to my vet "there are so many cats in this world" and he quietly replied "and there are a lot of people too." Take that as you will.

  14. This is a 7 year old healthy horse that is just not adjusting to his blindness well in his current environment.
    Sounds like he is well trained, sensible, and is looking for regular, firm boundaries. Put him in a lesson program in a ring, and he would probably work happily for the next 20 years.
    I'm glad she gave him the chance for that.
    We had the same decision to make. We had a 5 year old mare who fractured her pelvis while foaling. He recovery was slow. We bought her as a show hose and broodmare, and now she could do neither. We were also concerned that she would live her life in pain. If she was going to be in constant pain, we would put her down. If she recovered and was pain free, we would try to find her a home. She recovered enough for gentle trails, I found a guy who just wanted to walk on trails and have a pet. The deal was sealed when she met him and put her head in his chest to be loved on. It's been a year, I still get texts and photos, he adores her.
    If the horse is not in pain, give them a chance.

  15. I think the outcome of this story is a perfectly acceptable alternative for this horse. I think it would be nice if the original owner did take the time to keep tabs on what happens to her horse.

    I do take exception to someone saying they cannot afford euthanasia. I really believe having the means to end suffering for any of your animals at a moments notice is the minimum requirement. I don't require an owner to be able to pay for a surgery, to be able to go for referral-level care, to be able to do extensive testing. But you need to have enough on hand to euthanize. That usually means you also have enough to treat minor problems for which euthanasia is not reasonable (like needing stitches). If you cannot manage a euthanasia if necessary, you can't actually afford the animal, in my opinion.

  16. Sure sorry my first comment on this great blog got Mugs steamed. I'm not sure how my comment differs much in content from some of the others, which also advocate euthanasia or rehoming as a better alternative in this situation.

    Some people DO think it's okay to ship a horse to kill. Personally, I don't--especially a blind horse. Horses die on every single truck in horrific ways (limbs broken and literally torn off, eyeballs gouged out, trampled, dehydration--I've seen it in photos and in person at sale barns) and that's before they even get to the slaughterhouse. That's why this is kind of a hot button for me.

    I just feel like the original poster is adopting a "head in the sand" type of approach and relying simply on hope that the person she gave her horse to will give him a good end. No contract, no money changing hands = no expectation the horse will be safe.

    PonyFan, I'm not sure what part of my comment isn't practical or realistic. OK yes, it's unrealistic to think that everyone will step up and take full responsibility - of course not everyone does, or we wouldn't have horses going to kill or neglected, BYBs, etc. Maybe she didn't have the money. Well, she could have sold her other horse so she could have afforded to put this one down humanely. Presumably she was paying board on this horse - take out a loan from a friend on that future $0 expense or ask a vet if you can pay next month. Try rehoming (with a contract!).

    I realize I'm posting judge-y comments on a post that's themed "don't judge, it's complicated." It's just that, for me, sending a horse to kill is about the worst thing you can do to him. I'm sure the OP struggled with her decision. I just don't happen to agree with it.

  17. I agree with you Maria.

  18. Euthanasia isn't always an option - it costs $800 for the vet and disposal where I live (Australia)... That's a lot of money.

  19. I won't judge because this is mugwump's blog, but I will say that I can afford the one horse I do have.

  20. Every day of horse ownership for me has been racked with decisions and questions of "Am I doing right by my horses?" I know it is the same for most horse owners.

    We all find ourselves in that position we do not want to be in, yet is inevitable, and the toughest of decisions have to be made. We all make those decisions as best we can with what we have to work with. No one can make the decision for us, and we are the ones that have to live with what ever we decide to do.

    Sometimes the answer is clear and sometimes it isn't. In this case the answer was not clear, and her solution was as muddled as the problem. That is usually how it works out. But for any of us to judge....just isn't right.

    Perhaps some of us would have done things differently. Some of us would have jumped straight to putting the horse down, others would have exhausted themselves trying to find the perfect solution. How anyone can say that this person was right or wrong is beyond me.

    The truth is, I recently made what many of you consider to be the right decision for one of my horses just a few short months ago, and I can honestly say I still lose sleep over it.

    I applaud her for her honesty,(she did not have to tell this story) and I sympathize with the internal struggle that will plague her for the rest of her life. This truly is the hardest part of equine ownership.

  21. I would ask the owner this question: if money wasn't an issue, what choice would you make?

  22. I have been there. I rescued an 18 yr old POA mare that had, at one time been someones do it all mare. She was incredibly well trained, but by the time I got her was a body score of 1 and had limited vision. I spent 9 months rehabbing her and got her score to a 5 when her arthritis kicked in and she had an ERU flare that left her completely blind. Her terror at not seeing tore me up and we tried to keep her calm. Nothing worked. I am lucky in that we have an outfit that will come and PTS for $10 and take to the zoo for the big cats. She had nine months of knowing someone cared. Unless one has been through this, NO ONE can judge. JMHO

  23. Be careful when suggesting future possibilities for a blind horse. I'm not allowed to have a blind horse in my lesson program. Equestrian federation policy, and I have to go by that. If either of mine lose their vision, they can't earn their keep, and I've got an expensive pet or a hard decision to make.

  24. Joyce Reynolds-WardApril 8, 2014 at 9:29 PM

    Wow. Looking through the comments, there's sure a lot of judgement there. Was the writer's choice one I would make? Not likely, but I also have the means to pay for euthanasia and disposal these days. In the past, my parents did something similar when they disposed of my QH mare--but, honestly, she was quirky enough that it would have taken a pretty good hand to keep her useful, and she did have a dangerously touchy temper. Very reactive mare. I hope that she actually went into the lesson stable as they claimed they were told, but it's more likely she went to auction. OTOH, she did have a talent for bucking, and I saw a dead ringer for her in a rodeo arena years after, so maybe she won the lottery and became a bucker broodie. Stranger things have happened.

    FYI, Idaho *does* have at least a couple of good-sized urban areas, so assuming a good ol' cowboy can take care of things might be a bit of a stretch.

    It's a tough choice, and not as simple as some would make it as being. Not every person who gets into horse ownership has the ability to figure it out perfectly when things go pear-shaped, and to some extent, being able to explore some options also depends on financial and supportive resources that the author may not have. If you don't have a safe place to put a blind horse, and things go bad quickly, but you don't have the money for it...at least the dealer seemed to have some idea of what possible worth the horse could have.

  25. I knew what I was opening myself up to when I sent this story to Mugs. I knew I was going to get grief for my decision and everyone was going to have their own opinion. This was a just a slice of the story. Just a small peek inside of the year plus of what happened with Apache.

    He was a "free horse," and everyone knows there is no such thing as a free horse. He was given to me to replace a paint gelding I'd had to sell the year before.

    Everyone can be judgmental and think to themselves, "If you can't afford to pay for vetting and supper safe fences, you shouldn't have them in the first place." True. But what do you do when you already have the horses and end up having to two emergency surgeries to try and save your life in four months, and then a third a year later and blow through your savings, and fall back money. You sell the one that you can get them most money for to feed everything else. Apache came to me after the first to surgeries, just as we were getting back on out feet again, were getting the bills under control, and then a month later I found out I was needing a third surgery.

    We noticed him starting to spook at things I was sure he had seen. He seemed extra concerned when our other gelding left the property or the neighbor's horses moved out of his line of sight. It was a November morning when I went out to do a once a week, all over body check, under blankets ect. One of his eyes had a weird silver cast in the pupil. I only noticed it because he spooked as I walked up to him when he should have clearly seen me. That afternoon we were at the vet's office with a diagnosis of ERU.

    There was a year long of training leading up to my decision. We worked with him on voice commands on the ground and in the saddle. He learned "whoa" meant don't dare move till I tell you. He learned "step up" meant there was an obstacle in his path and how to get into a horse trailer. He learned "over" depending on which side I Was standing on, to step away from me. All this was while he still had limited sight in his off side eye.

    He had buddies to pasture and pen with. Ben is my 26 year old gelding that my vet actually said needed a diet. I'm not just getting rid of the horses that aren't useful anymore. I raise Jersey steers every year that pasture around with the horses. Ben is a bully though and I had to separate them to feed or Ben beat on Apache when he couldn't see the cues Ben was using to push him away.


  26. Apache was getting harder to manage. He didn't care about a cow pasture buddy that wasn't Ben. We even tried "borrowing" a horse from the neighbors but he wanted nothing to do with her. I wasn't back to work yet after the third surgery, money was so tight. All three surgeries were abdominal surgeries, so they took a long recovery. My husband worked nights and slept days so that put the animal care squarely on me, and I wasn't getting around very easily.

    Even with the pasture buddy borrowed from the neighbor, Apache fretted, paced and was dropping weight. I was free feeding alfalfa/grass hay and he was on full 24/7 turn out on lush grass. He just wouldn't eat. His teeth were done yearly, the vet was stumped. He was brusing along the coronet band from the constant pounding of pacing, he had pink rings around the tops of his hooves.

    The sand storm story and the wire fence story were actually two serperate instances. He actually gave me a black eye before I was able to calm him down and move him to the round pen the day the sand storm blew threw. The wire fence was when were were actually working on the fencing in the front pasture trying to make a safer area for him.

    I could have put a bullet in his head here. I didn't have the $300 to have someone come out with a backhoe and dig a whole. I was told it was illegal to bury a horse on your property here. I live in a very small town and it would have been all over town as soon as we started digging. Our road is the main road to get to the big plant that employs half the town. I listed Apache on Craigslist, Auction Horse Network, all over FaceBook groups, different horse classifieds online, trying to give him away for free. I had him listed for months. I do know what happened to him after he left with Steve. They worked with him for three months, he became his wife's project, but after still continuing to loose weight, they put him down on their property and had him hauled away afterwards. I went over to say goodbye, and brought his halter and a hank of his tail hair home.

  27. You said it yourself, " ...I knew I was going to get grief for my decision..."

    Hindsight is 20/20.

    Knowing what you know now would you make the same choice?

    I have chosen to care for a horse that has been on "borrowed time" since he came to me in '06. I do know that when the time comes that he is not safe and comfortable here I will have him humanely euthanized and hauled out of here.

    It will break my heart to do it but at the same time holding him when he heads for the Rainbow Bridge is the final kindness I can offer my friend.


  28. We have the same legality problem in places in Australia. The govt regs get in the way as burying is not allowed. My friends pony she had had since a child had cancer. He needed putting down. The only way she could arrange it was a)bribe the council workers illegally at the rubbish tip when they had the big machinery going b) pay a vet to turn up at 6am at the tip before it opened c) hire a suitable vehicle and float as she had none. Pay for all the above, try to arrange it, probably not being able to. The council dont care the whole situation is stupid.

    Fortunately, there was then still a tiny little horse slaughter house still going in the district at that time. Horse slaughter is not such a bad thing when it is up close and personal and you dont have to ship to Mexico and you can inspect the conditions and kill methods.

    I took her pony to the slaughter house for her. They would kill the horse while you are there if you wanted. The horses waiting in the kill schute were relaxed, I had driven past often and the horses do not seem stressed by the environment. My first main horse I had when I was a teenager I had to have put down the same way because he had cancer. I could have probably found a local farmer with a gun, and hired a backhoe but the end would have been the same and bothered other people and cost hundreds of dollars.

    I dont think I can be hypocritical and say it is OK to kill the cows and sheep I raise, but not the horses. I think the stress of the animal is the issue, not wether it is dead or not. I dont like the long transport that my animals undergo before slaughter. That is the governments fault for having too many regulations and having slaughter plants closed down until there are only a few left in country, mostly over 7 hours transport time away.

    Too many regulations mean few people in Australia have guns these days. Animals like roos often suffer horribly for hours on the sides of roads because there is no one around with a gun to finish them off. Few people can wrap their heads and hearts around picking up a big enough rock. You might risk a charge of animal cruelty for being seen to kill a shattered animal on the side of the road by some idiot rather than leave it squirming in pain for a day or so. Peta and the likes make things worse by getting slaughter plants closed down.

    If you have livestock you have deadstock.

    Dealing with animals means dealing with life and death - or avoiding dealing with it - or paying someone else to deal with it.

    I am glad your horse had a good end.

    I have had sheep get blinded a few times. It can be very horrible when they panic. It is bad enough with a small animal like a sheep, a horse would be scary. You are brave to cope after surgery like you are. I can see you are just keeping on, one foot in front of the other. Sympathies.

  29. Glad (and a little sad) to read the rest of the story in the comments, but, even before seeing it, I loved your story. I don't now why everybody assumed the horse trader would immediately send him for slaughter... The guy's running a business not a covert slaughter operation. Giving a sound, young, well trained animal a chance sure seems right to me.

  30. RHF,

    why do I assume a horse trader would lie, and then send the horse straight to slaughter? Because that's exactly what they do, and that's exactly how they do it. I can't tell you how many people I've known who have similar stories, the traders show up with the wife, or a kid or their granny and say "well, I guess you have a new horse now." We have one of these guys down the road from me. He picks up "free" or cheap horses in a 2 horse trailer, takes them home and throws them out in a bare field until he gets enough to fill his big trailer, then they're loaded up and go straight over the border. Yes, he uses the same stories over and over. Yes, I've met people who have come looking for their horse who was supposed to be out in a pasture, enjoying a safe retirement. Yes, I've seen their faces when they realize what they've done. I don't blame EverStuff for not knowing, it's just that I do.

  31. I should add in here that I knew Steve. I knew him when I got Ben from him. I'd been out to his place and seen his personal horses. I'd seen him at the sale yard and talked to him about the little filly he'd put how many hours of training into and was probably going to just take her back home with him if she didn't bring enough money.

    I also know there were horses with him that night that were going on a different truck no matter what he got for them. Ben had been hanging around his place for five months before I bought him for $500 including the ill fitting saddle he came with. We're guessing he's a draft cross, so he would have brought a few extra dollars from the kill buyers. An 18 year old mutt horse that was a pain in the ass and no one wanted anymore.

    Part of sharing this this was to make you open you brain a little and think, not just re-act. The whole part about my having my eyes opened about having to make the choice to send a horse to the sale. How I'd judged people without knowing the whole story.

  32. EverStuff--I really hope you don't regret sending your story.Even when there is a knee jerk, judge first, think later response, there is still some thinking done.
    You were nice enough to give them some back story, unlike rotten me, who would have left them hanging.

  33. EverStuff, reading this-and the follow up comments-has made me think.
    And I mean that in a good way, like Mug's stories do. I'm glad you posted.

  34. "If money wasn't an issue, what choice would you make?"

    "Knowing what you know now would you make the same choice?"

    "I won't judge, but I can afford my horse."

    Yeesh, people.

  35. Yeesh Becky, either we are or we aren't allowed to be Mugwumps. This is a hot button issue, and there are going to be a lot of disagreements. So far, I haven't seen any name calling or nastiness, just opposite agreements and legitimate questions.

  36. I'm with you Maria, one of my first reactions to this post was; oh boy I'm going to be on the shit list when I post my comments on this one! I think a quick bullet to the head and a backhoe borrowed from a neighbor would have been the far better answer than what this poster did. She got lucky at the end but how realistic an outcome is that for most? If you can't afford euthanasia then you can't afford to keep a horse. Vet bills to keep them alive can come to far more than that. Not to make light of the poster's sorrow but something does not ring true or right to me on this one.

  37. @Flyinghorse
    So what would you do if you had the money to afford the horses. You had a bought a beautiful five acres, built a house on it, fenced most of it off leave just a small yard, so most of the property was utilized as pasture for the horses. You had one horse already, finances were good and then bought one old gelding that you knew no one else would want. Half a year later things are still going great and you add a third horse to you little herd. You keep up on their vetting, feed them well, by blankets for the cold, wake up early ever morning to make sure they get fly sprayed in the summer. You're doing everything right and then blam. Suddenly you in the hospital fighting for your life. You're out of work for twelve weeks and only go back because you're in danger of loosing your house and need the money, not because you're better. You sell your expensive saddles, you husband's treasured guitar, anything you can liquidate. Four months later you're back in the hospital for a second life saving surgery. Then you start deciding which horses to sell. You has to go so the rest can eat. You scrimp and save and when things get stable again money wise another horse is offered to you. You have a little bit of fall back money in the bank again. Surely you think your health issues are done with. Then you find out a third surgery is needed. I had to have three abdominal surgeries in two years. Shit happens, two of them only four months apart.

    If money hadn't been an issue, I can't say that he'd still be here. Even with secure fencing, he was suffering.

    If I didn't believe Steve when he said he'd work with him, Id have loaded Ben and Apache into the trailer and hauled him off into the desert. At least Apache would have had his friend with him when I pulled the trigger. Yes I would have done it myself.

    Knowing I was going to be torn apart when I sent this in, yeah, I knew. I still did it. A few people opened their minds and thought instead of just reacting. Opening up even one person's mind to the other side of the story was what I was going after.

  38. Living our lives is about making choices and sometimes the choices we have to make suck.

    End of story.

  39. EverStuff Ranch, I've been thinking about this post a lot over the last couple of days, and I'm glad you explained what the rest of the story was because it gives a fuller picture of how hard you tried.

    I think there are two different angles to situations like these, and our reaction varies depending on where we focus. I think it is perfectly reasonable to see old, lame etc horses at sales or on the kill truck and judge their humans harshly - our heart knows those horses deserve much better from the people they served.

    On the other hand, loooking at the individual people's stories makes me wary of judging because some people make those decisions because they explored everything and couldn't see any other choices, not because they wanted to. Some, not all. Just like some traders like the man you knew are decent and do what they say they will, and others ship them off for meat or whatever is most profitable. One good thing that might come of your story is that now more of us are aware of the support group for owners of blind horses, and the more of us who are aware, the better. Another good thing is that the people who judge are sometimes so peed off by the situation that they find solutions that others of us don't think of because we are looking for practical alternatives, and then other horses can benefit if their people find out about it. My horses and I have benefitted from those trailblasers when it comes to training approaches. Sharing stories is one way to help generate options, so thank you for sharing yours.

  40. Everstuff, I really don't think you've been "torn apart." I think people have been very respectful, even sympathetic. Some, including me, just don't agree you did the best thing you could, maybe not the worst, but not the best.

    My mind is, and has been open on this subject. I have raised animals for slaughter. I've seen animals slaughtered. I didn't used to think it was any worse for horses than it was for cows and pigs. I was wrong. It's much worse. I've had a couple of friends who made the same decision you did, and I didn't stop being their friend. I also expressed my opinion, they did their own research and changed their minds about how to dispose of their next horse. I understand that you believe you made the best choice for your horse. Maybe you didn't. Maybe that is what is tearing you apart.