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How to deal with losing your horse

Posted in Mind Matters

It’s something no one wants to think about, but at some point every owner experiences the pain of losing their beloved horse. H&R helps you make sense of moving forward

How to deal with losing your horse

“It’s only a horse.” As riders and owners, we’ve all been on the receiving end of this sentiment. We’ve heard it when we’ve missed a social engagement to change a poultice or when we’ve spoken fondly of our horses’ achievements, as though they’re members of the family.

But this is because to us, they are members of the family, and the emotional, physical and financial investments we put into them run deep. When they inevitably leave us, either because they’ve reached the natural end of their full and active lives or because an accident or injury foreshortens their time, it’s not ‘only a horse’ that we have to learn to live without. It’s a bond built up over time and with great patience, a reliable comfort that we’ve grown to depend on and, in many cases, the crumbling of future plans. Losing a horse can also mean a momentous change in lifestyle, as horse ownership not only takes up a lot of time, but is often the root of important friendships and social circles.

The weight of grief can often seem too heavy to lift, especially in the early stages. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel – the day will come when you can look back on the memory of your horse with fond remembrance, rather than with pain, but the way in which you grieve and how long you need to feel like yourself again is personal to you.

The grieving process

Although grief doesn’t follow a linear pattern and everyone reacts differently to loss, it can help to familiarise yourself with the five stages of the grieving process. You may experience some or all of these, and not necessarily in this order, but knowing that there’s a root cause for the plethora of emotions and that they’re normal can help you find your feet in the bereavement process.

Denial is often the first reaction to grief. You may experience it after your horse passes as an internal insistence that ‘this can’t be happening’, or you may feel it pre-emptively if he’s suffering from an illness or injury that forces you to make the final call. Denial is an emotional defence mechanism that’s used by your subconscious to block out the initial pain of grief, allowing you to process it.

Anger is how the first real waves of grief are usually expressed. Once the denial phase ends and the pain of grieving begins to break through, you may find yourself lashing out at friends or family, feeling angry at yourself, or resenting your horse for leaving you or the vet for not saving him. This is often cyclical – anger will be followed by guilt, which will turn back into anger.

Bargaining is how your subconscious deals with circumstances beyond your control. It may manifest itself as ‘what if’ and ‘if only’ thoughts – ‘if only I’d spotted the problem sooner’, ‘what if I’d done something differently’, ‘if only the circumstances had been different’. Or, if you’re coming to this point in the grieving process prior to your horse being put down, you may find yourself trying to make deals in your head, such as “if my horse gets better, I won’t get frustrated with him anymore when he misbehaves.”

Depression is the emotion most commonly associated with the grieving process. It can appear in a variety of ways – you may feel worried and regretful about the practicalities and costs related to the loss of your horse, if you own more than one horse you may worry that you’ve neglected the others while processing your loss, or you may feel as though your life is empty or lacking in meaning without your horse. Even just getting out of bed in the morning may be a struggle and you might think you won’t ever feel happy again.

Acceptance isn’t a miracle cure that will suddenly make you feel alright about what’s happened, but rather the recognition that life without your horse is the reality now. Accepting the truth means that you can start to be proactive again – you may think about reintroducing riding into your life or, if you own more than one horse, you may take steps to adjust your remaining horse’s routine so that he can cope with the loss of his companion. The positive steps you take during this stage will help you to get back on terra firma and allow you to be happy again.

The weight of responsibility

The loss of your horse can come with complicated emotions unique to animal bereavement. If you’ve made the hard decision to put him to sleep, your grieving process may start from the moment the call is made. You may feel guilty or angry at your self, or worry that you’ve made the wrong choice. These feelings are normal and it can often help to chat with your vet to help mitigate the idea that you could have done something differently.

Helping healing

Although it can seem like the hardest thing to do, taking a proactive approach to recovery can be a huge help. If your horse was at livery, you may be tempted to ask a friend to clear his stable and pack up his belongings so you don’t have to face it, but often, doing it yourself can help you come to terms with the situation. You may also be surprised to find how much support and sympathy you receive from the other liveries, giving you an emotional support system you may not have realised you had.

Clearing stable with a friend to help healing

Coping mechanisms

Verbalising your emotions is a productive way to learn how to understand and manage them, making it a vital step in the healing process. There are several ways you can go about this and any of them, or a combination, can be equally helpful…

  • chat to a sympathetic friend or family member. Talking to someone you trust and who you feel comfortable expressing your emotions in front of can help you release some of the tumultuous feelings that may build up, particularly in the period immediately following your horse’s passing.
  • keep a diary. Writing your feelings down allows you to express yourself without feeling self-conscious and can also help you keep track of how you’re coping. You may find that as time goes by your entries focus more on recalling happy memories than on the emotional upheaval.
  • speak to a professional. Bereavement counsellors are trained to understand all of the complex emotions that surround the grieving process, and can help you process and accept them. Many specialise in pet bereavement, so don’t feel as though you’re not eligible to speak to someone. Counsellors are particularly helpful if you really feel as though you can’t cope.
Stronger together

Knowing that you’re not alone and aren’t being irrational can take the pressure off you to be okay straightaway. Talking to someone who’s gone through the same thing can provide a huge amount of comfort.

Moving forward

Deciding to ride again can come with its own complicated spectrum of emotions. You may feel guilty about letting another horse into your life or you may find that you make unfavourable comparisons between a new horse and the one you’ve lost.

The key is to give yourself plenty of time. If you competed regularly with your horse, it’s easy to put too much pressure on yourself to get back out onto the circuit and continue your season. But unless you’re a professional rider and rely on competing to make a living, it may hinder your grieving process
to push yourself to do too much, too soon. There’s no set timeline for when you’ll be ready to reapproach riding – instead, listen to your gut feelings. When you feel that you genuinely want to ride again or enter a competition, do so. Don’t do anything just because you feel you should.

If you don’t want to take a break from horses, but find yourself struggling with guilt or other negative emotions, volunteering can be a productive way to overcome them. Spending even just an hour a week helping out at a rescue centre or RDA group will allow you to spend time with horses without feeling disloyal to your horse’s memory, and knowing that you’re having an impact on another horse or person will allow you to foster positive feelings about the time you spend there. You’ll also inevitably become part of a small volunteer community, which will offer friendly support and a welcome distraction, and can help you to feel better through the hard times.

Giving yourself a break

The plethora of emotions that grief stirs up can burden you with a huge amount of pressure and negativity. Try to remember a few key things – you’re not at fault, nor are you disloyal or heartless if and when you decide to get back in the saddle.

Seeking closure

Grief isn’t a finite emotion, which means that you won’t reach a point where you forget or no longer miss your horse. Instead, the healing process lets you eventually take the positives – the wonderful memories and happiness he gave you – and move forward unencumbered by the pain of grieving.

When you’ve reached this stage, it can be cathartic to find a way to memorialise your beloved horse. This may be a private homage, such as commissioning a portrait or having a piece of jewellery made, or it can be something that other people can share in, such as sponsoring a perpetual trophy in his name at a favourite show.

Calling for back-up

There are several resources available to offer support and a sympathetic ear as you come to terms with the loss of your horse…

  • The Ralph Site is a not-for-profit online resource to help you manage the loss of a beloved horse or pet. With private forums, access to qualified bereavement counsellors and memorial pages, it’s a comprehensive database. Visit theralphsite.com
  • Blue Cross offers a bereavement support helpline, meaning that there’s always someone ready to lend a sympathetic ear and help you through. Visit bluecross.org.uk
  • The British Horse Society offers a volunteer-run scheme called Friends at the End, which operates nationally and can provide support throughout the process – you can even call upon a Friend to be there for support when your horse is put to sleep. Visit bhs.org.uk
Case studies

Sophie and Leyla

When I first got my mare, she was untrained and in need of some serious TLC. The following three years of careful training and love turned her into my dream horse, until she was sidelined by a field accident. Still lame after months of box rest, Leyla was referred to a local equine hospital for keyhole surgery to pinpoint the problem. Because her surgery coincided with an A-level exam, I didn’t get to see her before she went in.

I headed for the hospital and was greeted with the words that no one wants to hear: “She’s torn her cruciate ligament – she’ll never walk properly again. We need to say goodbye.”

Under anaesthetic, Leyla didn’t look like my big, grumpy bay mare, but that didn’t make saying goodbye any easier. We decided not to wake her up and she was put to sleep on the table.

The next few days felt like a blur. I spent hours going through photos and making a scrapbook of the memories that Leyla and I had made together. I still look at it regularly – I think working on it straightaway helped me to let out some of the emotional build-up and focus on the positives, such as the incredible transformation she’d made over the years.

Barbara and Oliver

I had known Oliver since before he was born – he was bred by a friend of mine and I went with her to take his dam to stud. We first met when he was three days old, then at six months he came to me for weaning. When he was a year old, I bought him. He lived with me until he was 24 – three years into a Cushing’s diagnosis that accompanied painful osteoarthritis and laminitis.

When he suffered, then recovered from severe colic, we decided that the pain of his various conditions was too much and the kindest thing to do would be to put him to sleep. The vet gave him enough bute to allow him to spend the weekend enjoying the sunshine in his field, then on the Monday, we said goodbye.

The hardest part of losing Oliver was the enormous hole in my daily routine – I was so used to getting up at 7am to take care of him that I found I still had to get up and get out of the house every morning. I walked four or five miles every day, following our old hacking routes. I also went back to the yard and spent time with the horses who live in his old field, which helped me to feel close to him again. I didn’t want to ride for six months and even now I would rather focus on caring for horses than riding.

I don’t think I want to own a horse again, but I’d like to look after them, perhaps by volunteering at a rescue. Oliver was a cheeky devil and a lovable soul, and while I’ll never find one like him, I’d like to help other horses feel loved and cared for.

Kate and Colonel

Colonel became part of the family when we bought a house and discovered that a neglected, 10-year-old miniature Shetland came with it. He was nearly feral and suffered badly from sweet itch, his body covered in open sores. Each day, I spent time in his field, bringing feed to tempt him closer. After a few weeks, I was able to catch him and start treating him. As Colonel emerged from the pain of his suffering, he turned to me as his human friend who had helped him. From then on, we shared a special bond and developed a deep understanding of each other.

One morning, 22 years later, Colonel was diagnosed with choke, which proved to be impossible to dislodge. I briefly considered the option of hospitalising him, which may have entailed surgery, but my instinct was that with his advanced years, this was his time to go. I asked the vet to put him to sleep.

With tears in my eyes, I wrapped my arms around him and shared a few quiet moments on my own with him. He died very peacefully and quickly.

The silence after he died was poignant. I still miss our little chats in the field each day and the way he used to gallop towards me, whinnying with excitement.

Colonel was well-loved by his many friends and being able to share in the wonderful memories of this truly remarkable pony made it easier to deal with his passing. Having two Connemaras at home who still needed my care and attention helped, too.

Your Comments

42 thoughts on “How to deal with losing your horse”

kamila Bome says:

Beautifully written! Losing a horse can deeply affect an owner. The amount of time, care, and money they put in to the welfare of their horses is often huge. Most horse owners are proud of their horses and their achievements, and treat them as family members. So it becomes extremely difficult to get over the loss of a loving horse. The six different stages of the grieving process – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and the weight of responsibility have been explained well. A definitive guide that’ll help owners deal with the loss of their horse.(bit.ly/2EsgZHD)

It can be desperately sad when this happens but if we know we did our best for the horse and gave them the best life we could then that’s all we can do.

I should not have read this thing so soon. It only made it hurt more.

Miss Doc Mahogany - Lucy says:

I lost my horse today – she was 30 years old and went down in the pasture – I had to make the decision to get her up and get her over to the vet to make sure she did not suffer and went peacefully and with me by her side. I have been thinking “was it too soon? Did I make the right decision? What if?” I lost my other horse also 30 while I was not at home – that has hurt me more than I can say – I know that I did right by my horse by allowing her to leave with dignity and without pain – but my heart still breaks everytime I look out the window and don’t see her looking at me and wondering when I’m going to bring her food or a treat. I had 18 years with her, many miles of trails, many ribbons from showing – and so many pictures and memories that I will look back at with love and a little sadness. Thank you for this wonderful article

Rylie says:

This was written very well. My horse has recently moved to Oklahoma. I know it is not the same but it still hurts more than anything that I have ever experienced. I have known horses that have died and had to be put down. It was absolutely terrible. My horse had colic twice and we were thinking about putting him down but me and my sister didn’t want to so we waited and he was spared. I send my condolences to anyone who has lost a gorse one way or another. I know how hard it can be. I am here for you even if I don’t know who you are and I don’t know who you are. I am here for you.

Lisa Nurcombe says:

This article is written beautifully. We lost our horse on the 20 th may . Reading about the other owners experience of loss helps too. I’m going through the guilt process, so finding it hard to move on. All of the ” what if we did this or didn’t do that ” so difficult to adjust your life back to before you had a horse. So much time and devotion on a daily basis. I hope in time, I can feel happy thinking about our boy and not do sad.

Marie says:

this article is amazing have been copying for a friend,but found myself gaining so much from it as learnt a lot about my own grief as a former carer to a human and how and why i am ‘stuck’.

Kate Alterman says:

I just lost my horse of 11 years and I am devastated. My loss with two other horse owners should have never happen. The owner of the stables walked away from where he had been putting rat poison in gopher holes, while he was gone my horse and two others mistook it for grain and ate it. They all died within two hours. I will never forget the phone call and rushing to the stables. Lying in the pasture lay my beautiful boy… I just laid there with him crying for so long… I don’t know if I will ever be able to own a horse again,

Christine Eide says:

Just lost my pony today he had stopped eating so off to the vet where he was for two weeks. We had him on IV he would perk up on day there was hope and smiles then down the next day now tears again it turns out he had a mass in is stomach and mass in intestines could never figure what caused it but nothing seemed to help , he was over a bit over weight so I feel so guilty was this the cause. Im sick I loved him Tony the Pony understanding the grieving process helps but will be a long time for my heart to heal.

Vic says:

I lost my yearling 4 months ago. It still hurts so much. Such a beautiful boy with a heart of pure gold . I grieve for all he would have been like a parent does of a child.

Payton says:

I lost my mare today. Only 20. I left for a few days to tour collages only to receive a call that she coliced severely. The vets ended up operating and removed 24ft of her small intestine, at first she did great. No pneumonia or infection, eating etc. But a day before I got to take her home she developed a severe case of laminitis. She was in so much pain and even if I would take her home she would be in pain for the rest of her life. One of the toughest goodbyes.

Ruth Munday says:

Well written and explained. I sadly lost my horse age 24 after owning him for 20 years. I had make a toughest decision to let him go with dignity and comfort. Leaving a massive hole in my heart. Life will never be the same.

Terry Hutchings says:

We had to put our beautiful 17 year old Willow to sleep just four days ago. It was and still is truly awful. She came down with laminitis exactly one year ago. For one year we had been working with a farrier fitting her with special cushioned shoes every two months. She was doing great until February this year. The arthritis in her right knee had worsened and was starting to fuse. She also developed a hitch in her right rear leg and we suspect it was a result of a stifle injury. Her beautiful black coat became dull and unhealthy looking. The issues were mounting and I just couldn’t stand seeing her no longer able to trot up the hill to the barn. She was tough right to the end and I will forever be haunted by her falling to the ground as they administered the medication. We only had her 7 years and had bought her from a horse trader who we believe had sedated her for showing. She was a handful and always challenged us, but we loved her and her feisty attitude. I know it’s soon, but I can’t stop crying and now I am incredibly worried about our other horse Silver. He has stopped calling for her, but this whole thing is just heartbreaking. I’ve had many dogs over the years and grieved for each one when the time came, but this is by far the worst. Truly devasted by the loss of our big girl.

Amber Baumgartner says:

I’m so sorry for all the losses posted here. Terry H. I am right behind your timeline and just can’t stop crying. Our sweet Kayla, was a beautiful TWH/SSH, who would have been 25 4/21/21. We loved her so much. She was my brother’s horse – he brought her to our parent’s barn when she was 5, so she was a big part of all our lives. He gave her to me 3 years ago and she’s lived with us, and our 2 other horses, until 2 days ago, April 13. She coliced and I can’t stop thinking that I did something terribly wrong. I will love and miss her forever. I know I will never have a horse like her ever again. Like most of us, I’ve said goodbye to many of my canine friends, and that’s really hard, but Kayla was with us for over 20 years. It seems impossible that she will never call to me again, or put her nose toward me so I can kiss it.

Robert A. Nesbitt says:

One year ago today I suffered the loss of my best friend pal that I ever had, Magnus, my pure white 18.2 hand Shire/TB cross. I have owned horses every day for 50 years and now I’m without one, we always provided a forever home, 9 horses total are in my private cemetery. The death of Magnus hurt the worst, he was the most incredible horse I have ever encountered, human like personality. I can really understand the grief expressed in these postings, I feel so bad for everyone here.
I know that Magnus is waiting somewhere for me, looking for the bag of apple wedges I would bring him twice everyday, I just need to leave this world and go find him…

George T. Miller, Jr. says:

Two weeks ago my Quarter Horse Bay Mare died due to digestive problems. Today Scout would have been thirty-five years old. Coming into my life just after she was weaned creating a friendship like no other.
We trusted each other to take care of each other but I can’t stop thinking how I let her down.
I found that still going to the barn and sliding the doors open seem to help but it’s tough. I really miss my horse and her personality. She was truly one of a kind.
Remembering how she would verbally let me know if she thought I was late with breakfast or supper, it was the only time she would ever have anything to say. Remembering is all we can do once we’ve lost a friend and a relationship known only to horse people.
I’ve had horses, dogs and cats most of my adult life and like most things in life we tend to forget as more time passes by. I don’t want to forget anything about Scout Two Bars.

RV says:

I lost my beautiful, kind, sweet thoroughbred gelding just 5 days ago. He had only been in my life for a year but has left a huge hole. He was truly my once in a lifetime horse and I’m finding it hard to cope. He developed colic and despite doing everything we could his internal organs had displaced. I feel like I must have done something wrong with his food / ridden at the wrong time or something else and feel like I will blame myself forever. I miss him so much.

Valentina says:

The messages from other people here who lost their friends help me though in feeling less alone. Thank you for sharing.

Elizabeth Van Wyk says:

I lost my Boerperd x gelding on Sunday 13 June 2021. He was only 13 years old. I am in my last two weeks of radiation treatment. I have finished 8 months of chemo and three weeks of radiation. I am only now starting to feel strong enough to ride properly again. We went on a short hack on Sunday morning and later that afternoon the yard manager phoned to say he was colicing. I rushed him to clinic but despite all,their efforts we were unable to pull him through. I feel so guilty about not having spent as much time with him over the past months. I also feel guilty about not picking it up sooner. I am angry that he was taken at such a critical time in my life. I miss him sooooo much. It hurts so terribly.

Cathryn says:

I so sorry for the pain and loss that you are all feeling and felt. I have today lost my precious beautiful 23 year old ISH, he was fine yesterday, I got to thefield this morning to feed and found him down,couldnt get up, called the vet out, rolled him over 3 times, pushed and pulled just couldnt get him up. Vet couldnt find anything wrong with himexcept age and been rolling sleeping laid down too long had tried to get up and tired himself out. I had to make the decision I am heart broken, lost, angry. Bless you my precious boy in heaven with your friends now, I will join you when it is my time, until then all I have is memories

Jane Hulmston says:

I lost my Irish draught a few days ago after 22 years together. I’m filled with what ifs. I just can’t believe he’s gone. There’s a huge hole in my life and I cry frequently. Going to the yard is so difficult. All I see is the empty space where he was. He was a horse in a million. Everyone loved him. Those around me have been so nice about it. Even non horsey friends. It’s sad but good to know I’m not alone going through this

Cathryn says:

HI Jane I am so sorry I know how you feel I have the same questions as you, what if, why, maybe and it hursts so much. Taken too soon and not planned. A week later I am not crying at just the mention of his name, I accept he is not coming back. I am getting his ashes so looking forward to that its a feeling of “ok i wont have you alive in the field but I will still have u in yr ashes, you are not lost to me forever.”. Only a horse owner will understand how much the loss of one hurts so much. I found talking about him made me feel better and I sometimes had to tell those who had heard it enough I was grieving. Take care they are only loaned to us on this earth, God came thundering down fron heaven on a white hore and his army of angels rode horses too when he made a new world and we will be part of that and together again is what I believe

Mary says:

I am in the mist of getting myself to call my vet to have my 28 year old mare to rest. Vet was here June 2 and said her overall health is good but her arthritis in her front legs was severe and this is likely going to be the reason she is put to rest. I can tell her pain level has increased at times but she still eats well, whinnies when she sees me and loves being out in the pasture with her 4 donkeys. I don’t want her to be in pain nor do I want her to go down and not be able to get up. I just need to make the call, I know that.

Deanna says:

I just put my 21 y.o. Mare down today. I’ve had her for 3 yrs but have known her longer than that. I bought her and her 2 filly’s from friends who were getting older and couldn’t take care of them anymore. My mare had a history of founders, so we have spent the past few years changing her diet and making her as comfortable as possible so she could have a better quality of life. She did great for most of the 3 years, but hasn’t been quite the same since this past winter. Arthritis overtook her and despite treating her with everything the vet recommended, she continued to decline. As soon as I made the call to the vet, I became instantly nauseous and felt like I’d been kicked in the chest. Last night, her last night with us, she almost seemed better, and walked around more, as if she was taking it all in. The thought that she is not there when I look out the window or go to feed the others is almost more than I can bare. She was sooo beautiful and such a joy to have. I too can’t get the image out of my mind when she fell lifeless on the ground, even though I knew it was what was best for her. She had been in pain without much relief and I couldn’t stand for her to keep living like that. Now I have strong waves of grief and feel like there’s a huge hole in my heart. My heart breaks for everyone else who has or is going through this.

Catie says:

Two days ago I had to make the heart-wrenching decision to have my beloved 29yo QH made Victoria put to sleep. She had been sick for a week with Potomac Horse Fever and was losing her battle, being already immune compromised. I had Vic since I was a kid, had 21 beautiful years with her and countless memories. I’m struggling with anger and guilt over whether i could have done something to prevent her illness. I will always blame myself. We lost our other horse suddenly only 9 months ago, and several other profound losses in between. It’s too much. For the first time in 21 years this farm is without a horse and emptiness doesn’t properly describe it. I don’t understand life without horses. I don’t know how to be. I just want to look outside and see them grazing peacefully, to erase the past year. Vic made me the person I am, and a big part of my heart died with her. I pray one day soon I can love a horse again, but I need a minute.

Angie Smith says:

July 2014 my “zero horse experienced” husband told me that if I wanted a horse to go find one. Drove an hour away to look at a black 13 yr. old registered TWH gelding. 3 hours this lady showed us his tricks, personality and he licks you like a dog. I’m thinking “this horse is too smart for me!” Right before I politely tell the lady my husband totally impressed by the horse asks me if I was going to write the check.
11-25-21 he starts limping; his front right is too sore to put weight on. Call vet, was told it was an abscess so we do multiple soaks a day poultice wrap over night. This goes on for weeks. Next we’re X-rays: didn’t show much & barely any tracks where supposed abscess blew out the coronary band. No arthritis, nothing out of the ordinary but strange circles just above the hoof sole. We continue treating while he is laid up in the stall and rolling him twice a day. Nothing working coronary band keeps swelling up like another blow out. He’s been down 30 days. Vet comes back out and says it’s worse than he thought. All the new swelling was looking like the hoof was separating and slough off. It didn’t look good. Although he ate his food and would always talk to us when we came to feed it wasn’t getting any better. After vet said it would be best to let him go peacefully. We made arrangements for the next day to euthanize him.
Hardest decision we ever had to make and even worse to watch you most precious, kindest, extremely loving, gentle, funny Mr Personality take his last breath. I completely broke down that I couldn’t breathe. Our hearts are crushed and we are utterly devastated. I will miss his begging face asking for just one more slice of that delicious apple or the crunchy carrot.
RIP Rainy, aka A Whisper of Rain. We did everything we could for you. We will always love you and will miss you until our last breaths on earth. We pray that we reunite with you for eternity then. 7 yrs was too short to love you.

Virginia says:

I lost my 6 year old baby “Q” yesterday to colic. He was on the table for surgery, they opened him up optimistic they could flip his Colin and he would be ok. When they opened him, his colon had burst under the pressure. He deserved so much more and he was such a baby. We will miss you dearly Q, don’t ever forget that.

Heather Dodd says:

I have today had my mare pts at 32 years old. I have owned her for 28 years and my heart is breaking. I am 68 so will not be having another horse so my life is going to change dramatically. I can’t imagine life without a horse as I’ve had one since II was 10. I really don’t know I’m going to move on as I feel so much sadness.

Mary Stewart says:

I’m facing the time when it will be necessary to sent my 31 yr 1/2 Clydesdale to his forever nap. I’ve owned this huge loveable goof for 25 years. Bought as large hunter I rode him and my daughter (the love of his life) rode him. I gave him a home for life when his show career was over because he’d become family. But he’s now the equivalent of a 90 year old person, the cold days are colder, the canter is labored if at all, and our days together are growing fewer. I bound to not let him suffer but to know love each day. I’ll be with him at the end – unless he passes in his sleep. I know his spirit will gallop the universe when the time comes and for that I will be greatfull.

Ishbel Reid says:

I had my old boy , Wooley , pts nearly four years ago – I was devastated. I had him for 20 years . I won’t get another. I have learned to cope with the loss- I can look back now without hurting . I rode him the day before and he had a full and active life.

Sue Kerchenfaut says:

My beloved Curly died yesterday. We were together 22years. I can’t stop crying. When I look out at the corral he is not there
Such a love. When I brought the feed bucket he knickered in anticipation. My donkeys seem puzzled. I am 79 so no more riding or horses He was in severe distress and my vet comforted me by saying I did the kind thing but it is so hard to end your loved ones life. I am glad he is buried in his pasture facing the sunset He will become part of his field where he lived a good life. So very hard to be without my boy.

Nadine Trent says:

On the 22nd April 2022 I lost my best friend, Mon Beau, he was my everything, the sweetest boy ever. He was a 31 year old gelding and I had owned him for 23 years, the best years of my life. I was away and he went down in the stable hurting himself severely. By the time he was found he was traumatized and stressed. I rushed home, the vet got there before me and it was decided via phone call to euthanize him, as he was suffering. I don’t know if I will ever forgive myself for not being there for him. He has taken a piece of my heart and my life will never be the same again. The pain is unbearable and the emptiness, overwhelming. Not to see him in the field or hear him calling my name, is soul destroying. Our souls will reconnect one day, I know. Adieu for now, My Beautiful.

Claire edwards says:

On 25th April 2022 I had to have my 26 year old mare Fizz put to sleep. After owning this kind hearted beautiful horse for just over 22 years has left me absolutely heartbroken. I have the most amazing memories of her and although I knew it was the right decision it was the way she looked at me right toward the end that got me. Fizz was a riding school horse and I fell in love with her when I started having lessons on her and my lovely husband purchased her for me. Anybody that met fizz adored her. I feel so lost and empty this week and am struggling with the loss of my routine and can’t wait for each day to end. I started sorting some of her rugs out and just could not stop crying as I could smell her. I no it’s going to take time but it’s hurting so much.

Zoe says:

I said goodbye to my Archie today. I feel the pain in all your stories. What is it about the heart of these big creatures that so thoroughly captures our own?
He was 23 and died suddenly overnight. I hope he wasn’t in pain.
I got him when I was 14 and he was 2. We grew up together, I’m not even sure who I am without him.
RIP Archie boy. Thanks for your big beautiful heart.

Madison says:

Yesterday on 4th July 2022 I said goodbye to my best and longest friend, my beautiful Nelly. Words can not describe the pain and the loss I am feeling, I am truly heartbroken. The sadness and emptiness is overwhelming.

Nelly was my first pony, we were both 11 years old when she became mine. I thought we had so much time left together, she was just short of turning 23. There will never be another like her, I have a small team of horses at home which I love dearly, but they sadly do not compare to the special connection I had with Nelly. I am finding it so hard to carry out my usual stable routine without her, every empty space and her grave reminds me that she is no longer there. Knowing that I will never reach for her halter, tack or her feed bucket in the same way breaks me. I just can’t believe she’s gone 🙁

Nancy Shaw says:

i just had to put my last horse Lady down today, she was 23 and had bowl cancer, 5 mths tomorrow we had to say goodbye to our 35 yr old Quarter horse Skip. we had 2 horses prior Morning Star 27 and Johanna 21 who we lost 12 and 10 yrs ago. our farm will be ever so lonely as our 6 yr old grandson is allergic to horses. I will not only miss my friends but my routine for the last 31 years.

Sarah says:

I lost my mare back in February, and it is all still very raw 5 months on. She was 17 but suffered a field injury but then coliced badly while on box rest recovery from surgery on her leg. I decided not to give her more surgery. She was my heart horse, we had such a strong bond and I loved her so much. I live alone and have not bought another horse and my whole world is upside down, and lacks focus. It’s the hardest thing to ever happen to me. My friends with horses are finding it hard to support me – I think I remind them of what will happen to them one day. I just want to skip this part or my life.

Susan says:

I had to euthanize my beautiful beloved tiz 3 days ago. He was 24 and coliced The vet said there was nothing more to be done. I am astonished at the commonality of our shared experiences: the hole in the heart, the crying, and the guilt. I am 74 and have pretty much always had a horse. I miss him so much, and hope he’ll be there waiting for me when I die.

Celine says:

I’m so grateful and thankful for these stories, as I had to put my beloved appendix down yesterday after 20 years together. He had been battling a chronic sinus infection that we just couldn’t resolved despite a week at the hospital for a tooth extractiom/sinus lavages and a slew of antibiotics. After much debate we chose not to put him through surgery to open up his skull, as it was likely a big tumor/infection in the bone. He has lived a good long life, and putting him down was the kind thing to do but my heart aches. I chose not to be present for the euthanasia, but the most profound thing happened – while I was driving home all of a sudden I felt this wave of energy come over me. My eye got big and I gasp a big breath, hardly understanding what was happening…it was over after about 15seconds and I knew 100% that my Tango, my beloved friend, had just passed. My mom called me later to tell me he went peacefully and when I asked what time it happened it lined up exactly with when I felt what I had felt earlier. I can hardly believe it, but in a way it makes complete sense. When you have been so intimately linked with another spirit for most of your life how could you not experience these big moments with them?

Samantha says:

I had my horse put down after 18 years I trying to think good times it going to be hard Ii lost most my family during the pandemic but the hardest thing is that my broght her for me and she got me through greaveing of family but it was the last connection of mum so that makes it harder to deal with but it was the write thing to do she not any pain any more she always be hart and it going to take a long time

Samantha says:

I had my horse put down after 18 years I trying to think good times it going to be hard Ii lost most my family during the pandemic but the hardest thing is that my broght her for me and she got me through greaveing of family but it was the last connection of mum so that makes it harder to deal with but it was the write thing to do she not any pain any more she always be hart and it going to take a long time good night chole love you so much

Melissa Camilleri says:

My best friend for the last 35.5 years is a silver dun cross Shetland gelding called Toby. Purchased as a 6 month old foal from a livestock-market Toby is 36 years old. What an amazing little chap. Trained to Carriage drive by me and my late mother he was our connection and brought us closer together . I drove him singles and then pairs with his buddy Lucy of 24.5 years. He was a natural carriage pony and took to it with ease. This winter he has suffered with stiff joints and is on three large feeds a day as he has No teeth just stumps. He is partially blind and relies on Lucy to get around the field safely. Our horse dentist sees him every 6 months. The farrier sees him every 8 weeks. He is very stiff so I manage foot Trimming by giving him a break between feet. Two feet one side then the farrier trims Lucy then back to finish Toby. He has been positive cushings (No laminitis) from 22 years old and been medicated on prascend daily since diagnosis. I retired him from driving at 24 years old. The last few winters into spring and then summer into autumn I assess his body condition and management. Each winter i see as an ‘extra’ having him with me as I know we are on borrowed time. I know I will have to make the decision one day but I have an additional worry about his buddy Lucy as she has only ever known Toby as her companion and I have known horses that have literally died of a broken heart. I am dreading it, it’s like an impending doom. But I look at him and Lucy objectively on a daily basis and ask myself ‘how is he today?’ I have thought about arrangements and method. I am fortunate to own a farm so he will be buried at home when that day comes.

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