I see adds 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.
The past year or so we've had to sell two great horses. My daughter's paint gelding and my husbands paint mare. Both sales were thought out this way. I know I can sell this horse to pay for the feed for the remaining horses. I can get more money for the horse I am selling than for the ones we're keeping. It was a hard hard decision to sell them. I didn't want to do it. I hoped like hell that the money fairy would come visit, I could bury my head in the sand, and everything would be ok. We're down to two horses. I know we can afford to buy hay for two horses. No more. We could maybe have kept three, but they would have been three skinny, sorry looking horses come spring if there was a brutally cold winter. That's just something you can't predict.
Now I'm faced with a gelding going blind. 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 eventually will be 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. Even with sight in one eye, his depth perception is shot. 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.
So all of a sudden I'm faced with the thought of what so many other horse owners must go through when they realize they have a horse they can't use. I won't ship him to the sale. If he ever becomes a danger to himself or others, I'll have him euthanized and rent a back hoe. But I see where the thought of I have to get a different horse when the one I have isn't useful anymore. I need a horse for Scott, and I need a horse I can ride all over the mountains and desert and back, and Apache might not be that horse for much longer.
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.