With the decision to euthanize Lily Monday, we had to decide what to do about Rags, a thirty-two-year-old horse who is frail, has very few working teeth, and is suffering from Cushings disease. Originally we decided to have the vet put him down as well, though that decision pretty much gutted us. We knew he would be incredibly stressed by being alone. However, my friend texted me telling me to bring him to her place. She has several other very old horses that she boards. Better yet, Rags lived there for several years before we set up the horse facilities here and knew her three remaining geldings, so he would have a ready-made herd. I told her that I would discuss Rags’ condition with the vet and make the decision then.
After putting Lily down we discussed Rags’ condition with the vet. She was quite supportive, though suggested it might not be a kindness to try to get Rags through another Colorado winter.
Another friend dropped what he was doing to haul Rags to his new home. Although it seemed to take forever to work out the details, I led Rags into our friend’s horse trailer a little after midday. He had been screaming for Lily since we put him back in the main horse field, ignoring food and water. I was afraid he would colic from the stress.
Rags was quite cooperative while loading and rode quietly. (In fact, I knew the trailer was here because Rags does a little happy dance when he sees a trailer pull onto our property.) After a short ride, we installed Rags into the corral where he will live until we can supervise his reintroduction into the gelding herd. The other horses, in an adjacent field, nickered when they saw Rags. He has a small shelter and his own stock tank. He immediately started eating some hay.
This morning I checked my records and we first had horses here in November of 1996. Aside from a few week long gaps due to wildfire evacuations that’s about twenty years.
This morning I did some clean up around the barn before the next rain storm. I couldn’t face doing so yesterday. I inventoried the remaining hay bales and drained the stock tank. My feelings resembled those when I cleaned out my mother’s closets after she died.
Years ago, Lily was diagnosed with ulcers, which would cause colic like episodes. The episodes seemed to be coming more frequently as she grew older, despite daily medication. This morning she was down when I went out to let the horses into the south field to eat grass. She got up to go in the new field and lay down again. She went up and down continually for the next hour. Although she had been up for a while when the vet got here, Lily had a heart rate of sixty, indicating that she still in pain. We had already decided that we could not afford to treat another full blown attack, so we asked for her to be put down.
With the recent precipitation, our south pasture (aka as the “new field” these twenty years) has enough green stuff that I let the horses out on it for two hours for the first time since last fall. With his age (thirty-two) and chronic conditions, I expect Rags’ next non-routine vet call to be his last, so I was amused when he managed a few crow hops to celebrate being let out to graze. He even achieved a little altitude, though not as much as Lily.
Jack’s personal weather station reports that the overnight low was -6 F. I was happy to see that the blanket Jack put on Rags last night seemed to be keeping him comfortable. We rarely use blankets, but Rags is getting old and frail, and was shivering yesterday morning.
I’ve been boarding Magic (an Anglo – Tennessee Walker cross) for a friend for years. I originally volunteered to board her in her retirement because she never got hurt and she never got sick. Yesterday morning, she was screaming for her breakfast. This morning, she was showing signs of colic when I went to give the horses their breakfast. After consulting with her owner and vet, she was euthanized around 10:00 am. Although her ground manners left a bit to be desired, she was an awesome trail horse, search and rescue horse, and field hunter in her time.
This youngish roan draft cross belongs to a friend of mine. I’ve been riding him in the middle of the week since she can only get out on weekends. He is a darling, and unique in my experience that he doesn’t automatically put his ears back when he hears the shutter click.