Along with the many blessings of horse ownership comes the responsibility of deciding to end a horse’s life. The weight and the lightness come cobbled together. Sometimes, of course, the ending is chosen for us, by an injury or illness. Often enough, though, us horse owners have time to pick and ponder the final day for our aging equine partner.
It ain’t fun. The decision is often rife with emotion and days and months of deliberation. Voices of reason – whether drifting in with our own pending grief, or from outside perspectives – can help. Let Goodbye Old Friend: The Euthanasia of Your Horse by David A. Jefferson be one of those kind, smart outside voices.
For decades, Dave ran Maine Equine Associates, a large animal veterinary practice. He’s been asked to euthanize 1,500 horses, he calculates, over his 50 years (fifty years!) of practice.
Over time, Dave has a vast memory collection of these final moments. They are collected and organized in this concise, 78-page volume. It’s a helpful resource which includes the science of euthanasia, proper burial and other options, and most poignantly, scenes from a variety of client experiences. The chapters begin and end with a quotation. One of my favs, from Reverend Joel L Morgan:
Grief is so painfully real, regardless of its origin. The love of and attachment to our animal friend can equal that of human relationships. Likewise, the loss of an animal can be just as devastating.
We have written about putting down our equine partners here and here.
It’s important to remember that the horse’s best interest is to suffer as little as possible. It’s helpful, some might say essential, to acknowledge that our emotions, fond memories and affection, have little or nothing to do with the decision to end a life. But they do. You’re not alone. This is the heavy stuff of animal ownership. Jefferson’s book, published by PRGott Books Publishing Service, makes it less so. Check it out here.