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Figure one. Older horses often continue to exercise. With careful management and

regular checkups, working in the twilight years can be beneficial



Veterinary Surgeon

Rebecca Goodwin

XLVets Equine practice

Cliffe Equine


Preparing to say goodbye

Rebecca Goodwin BVetMed CertAVP(EM) MRCVS

Cliffe Equine Clinic

The decision for euthanasia may become

necessary due to compromised quality of life

from disease or illness, or normal age related

changes. Often we have to make these

decisions, they are not made for us, and as

loving animal owners we have to take the

responsibility which can be a very difficult and

upsetting process, giving us a huge amount of

moral stress

(figure two)

. As vets we want to

try to support you at this time and offer helpful,

empathetic, informative advice.

Planning ahead allows you to have more time

to focus on your animal and saying goodbye,

and not just the facts and logistics of the

matter, such as dealing with the remains.

Perhaps a discussion at an annual vaccination

may be a good idea to prepare yourself for

the decisions to be made, and when is the

right time for you and your horse. Obviously

these are very personal decisions and

discussing it with your vet may not be

appropriate or necessary for you. However,

if you do wish to discuss this topic, there are a

few difficult, but common, areas for discussion.

Horses are living healthier, longer lives than ever before due to

advances in veterinary care, knowledge and nutrition; and recent

studies have shown the aged horse population is ever increasing

(figure one)

. Despite this increased longevity, the unfortunate decision

to say goodbye to our beloved animals is still an inevitability. It may

be a sudden decision due to an untreatable or painful disease, or

due to a chronic or terminal disease that has become unmanageable.