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A question re. humane disposal (shooting). Please don't read if you're of a sensitive disposition.

(30 Posts)
dooit Mon 14-Sep-09 23:12:15

So, today I volunteered to stay with a friends horse whilst he was shot. He has a long standing history of navicular disease and it was clear he couldn't continue any longer.

I have been with a horse that was put to sleep by injection before and whilst it was very sad, it was a clean and tidy option.

I've never stood with a horse being shot before but have spoken to friends who have and they all told me what to expect-bucket of feed at the ready, big bang, horse drops to the floor, job done.

Please don't read on if you'r eating or don't have a strong stomach.

I thought I was prepared. I was obviously upset but anxious to put the horses needs first and not to distress him. He had a lovely relaxing groom and a heap of hay and carrots before the knacker man arrived. When the time came I lead him quietly to the designated spot in the field with a lovely bucket of feed. He was very quickly dispatched with the minimum of fuss (apart from a misfire first time round shock)and fell to the floor, dead.

I was surprised at the lack of drama really. Until the knacker man said he just needed to put the rod in then he would winch him into the wagon and he'd be off. Naively I thought "the rod" was part of the apparatus used to winch him into the wagon. I almost keeled over when he produced a 3 foot metal probe and inserted it into the horses head. It was incredibly distressing to see all his legs flailing (all be it an involuntary nerve reaction) in the air post mortem.

So in short hmm is this normal practice and if so why does no one ever tell you about that bit? I'd have been much better prepared if I'd known it was coming.

Sorry if I've upset anyone but I'm genuinely curious.

MitchyInge Tue 15-Sep-09 10:12:08

I've never watched that bit before, I thought they tied something round the neck and then winched them up - but I can't bear to see them being moved like that, when all their dignity is gone.

That was lovely of you to do that for your friend though, did you have bad dreams about it?

frostyfingers Tue 15-Sep-09 12:39:13

This didn't happen when I was present at my friend's horse dispatch. They winched her in by her feet - very undignified and more upsetting than watching her fall. Our vet always tries to put them down near a muck heap and then they fall on to that - he says he feels it's less distressing than them crumpling to the floor.

It was sad, and I dread having to do it for mine, but you just have to accept that once they are dead they are just a large lump of inanimate object. The legs twitching bit is grim, but I just kept telling myself it was the reflexes.

cazboldy Tue 15-Sep-09 12:55:21

I think it depends on the type of gun used. with a humane killer they put the rod in to destroy the brain.

You must be a very lovely friend. xx

dooit Tue 15-Sep-09 16:10:06

Thanks for your replies girls. I did wonder. I will always warn anyone who asks me what to expect about 'the rod' in future.

I didn't have bad dreams Mitchy, I took the precaution of drinking plenty of wine last night. I knew I'd just lie awake replaying it otherwise. I have spent alot of time thinking about it all though and I have to say that I would volunteer to do it again if the need arose but I'd be sure to walk away swiftly afterwards without looking back.

I'm a firm believer that it is the last gift we can give to our horses to ensure they don't suffer and are treated with kindness and respect right to the end.

I know what you mean about the lack of dignity frostyfingers. He lost all his 'horseyness' the second he hit the floor. He was a beautiful horse in life, Tb over 17hh.

This morning I discovered that my own horse had thoroughly explored the area where he was dispatched and all 4 hooves were caked in blood. Grim but I suppose he was trying to work out where his buddy had gone. A heap of sand would have been a good idea to cover the mess with.

ohnelly Tue 15-Sep-09 21:40:25

Oh my god I didnt know about the rod
I used to work with horses and the week that i left (heavily pregnant) to go on maternity leave we had to have a 17hh horse put down. He was only 5 years old, and was the sweetest horse you can imagine. He got his leg stuck in a gate and it never healed properly and was never going to be sound. He even put his head down so that the vet could shoot him (you know how they do so you can put on their headcollar). The vet was almost in tears and had to be consoled with a stiff drink.
The only small comfort was that he was at home, he didnt have a clue what was going on (he was a bit thick bless him!), and he was somewhere he knew for his last moments. At least him and your friends horse were in the same situation rather than being taken away to be put down - nicer for you but not for them, so hopefully you can take some comfort in that.

Pixel Tue 15-Sep-09 22:17:36

You've reminded me of that episode of All Creatures Great and Small when a favourite hunter got injured and had to be shot. They brought hounds round to the yard and blew the horn because the owner wanted him to die with his ears pricked. I cried my eyes out at that sad.

scroobiuspirate Tue 15-Sep-09 22:21:57

i'm not particularly of a sensitive disp, and have been brought up on a farm, and witnessed things. Yet reading about that rod thing is upsetting, had no idea.

When mum's horse was put down, it was by injection, and he was already lying down/sedated.

kormachameleon Tue 15-Sep-09 22:24:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pixel Tue 15-Sep-09 22:27:32

I stayed with my pony until the end when he was PTS by injection and I'm glad I did because it was really gentle and peaceful, no thrashing or anything like that. Made myself scarce before he was moved though, I didn't want that to be my last memory of him.

scroobiuspirate Tue 15-Sep-09 22:40:14

my mum was lucky in that, her horse was allowed to be buried on their land. her dh dug the grave. sad The horse was 34 yrs ol bless him.

kormachameleon Tue 15-Sep-09 22:41:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scroobiuspirate Tue 15-Sep-09 22:43:21

I know! he was truly part of the family. In fact he may even have been a bit older than that!

He was a welsh cobX thoroughbred, and a loon!

elastamum Tue 15-Sep-09 22:51:27

Poor you! I had my 25 yr old girl who had been with me 23 years put down by injection a couple of months ago. My friend held her with me and we both left before she was taken away. The man who picks the horses up for us is a really nice bloke who always tells us to go and leave him to take them away.

seeker Tue 15-Sep-09 22:52:08

I was there when a horse was injured then PTS on Sunday. When the knacker man came, he insisted that we cleared the yard and left him to it. We all went into the tack room and shut the door so we wouldn't hear or see anything. I'm glad we did - the accident was so distressing I don't think we could have dealt with anything else.

Pixel Tue 15-Sep-09 23:14:18

Elastamum, I had mine 23 years as well! He was 28 and such a sweet boy.

dooit Wed 16-Sep-09 07:36:58

Oh flipping heck Pixel. What you said about All Creatures Great and Small just brought a tear to my eye too. What a wonderful end.

MitchyInge Wed 16-Sep-09 08:40:51

Argh, that's unbearably poignant for this time of day. While I'm already in full snotty/snivel mode: Last time a horse was put down on our yard was in the worst possible circumstances, 23 but perfectly sound but owner decided she couldn't afford him - we all offered to help with costs and yard owner reduced livery to £10 a week (horse was a huge favourite with everyone) and other people even offered to keep him for free at home. She got a completely unknown vet and told him her horse was severely arthritic. I don't think any of us thought she would seriously go through with it on the day, we all knew he was healthy and sound - can only assume it was a weird sort of vanity at work, the idea that nobody else could care for him properly as he aged? Anyway there were awful scenes and I wouldn't have been that vet for all the money in the world. Or the yard owner, for letting it happen on her property - but again, she didn't believe it was actually going to happen.

abra1d Wed 16-Sep-09 09:04:58

'Grim but I suppose he was trying to work out where his buddy had gone. '

When my dog (slightly different species!) was put down the vet asked us to bring our second dog in with us so that she could sniff the dead body and know that her friend was dead and she didn't have to worry about her. The vet watched the dog and when she turned her head away from the body, he told us we could take her away because she had understood.

She was mildly unsettled for 48 hours and then settled down very quickly.

kormachameleon Wed 16-Sep-09 11:13:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Itsthawooluff Wed 16-Sep-09 22:28:27

The chap who came out with the horse ambulance to pick up my old lad was a complete poppet.

Came into the yard, had the trailer ramp down in about 30 secs, then said, "Would you like to go and have a cup of tea now, because this can be a bit distressing for owners". I dutifully trotted off and by the time I'd bought tea mugs out 2 mins later, the back of the ramp was up, my old lad had been winched on board and his rug had been neatly folded and hung on the gate.

Once the body was loaded though he was so relaxed and kind. He even stood and listened whilst I maundered on about the horse, for half an hour, without making me feel like a numpty.

CarGirl Wed 16-Sep-09 22:34:36

my friend may have to have her horse put down because she can't afford him, he's old and has an injury too. I could absolutely throttle her soon to be exh because he's the arse who is putting her in that financial position.

MitchyInge Thu 17-Sep-09 08:36:18

I want to win the lottery so I can buy loads and loads of land and open a retirement centre for horses - and also a rescue/rehabilitation service for unwanted land rovers grin

frostyfingers Thu 17-Sep-09 09:55:59

Mitchy - you could have had my old Disco, what a heap of v expensive metal......never have another one again. Had 2 and they both cost a fortune!

MitchyInge Thu 17-Sep-09 10:27:59

am not so keen on those, or freelanders

they are bit too refined for me grin

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