With a second chance at
life, an aging horse finds
BY VIRGINIA CLEMENS
YOUR HORSE LIFE
/ Disbelief /
“How old did you say they were?”
I was standing at the pasture
fence with a friend watching the
two horses: Sam and his pal, Ali.
“They’re both in their thirties.”
“Wow! How long do horses live?”
“Forever, according to my husband.”
We both laughed. I pictured
Doug, my husband, giving this
answer and spreading his hands out
in mock frustration.
In truth, Sam had been Doug’s
trail horse after previous lives with
other owners, including a stint as a
show horse. He’d been given to us
when he was 15, and I thought we
would have him for about 10 years.
If someone had told me back then
that we would have him for 20-plus
years, I wouldn’t have believed them.
Doug had enjoyed many hours of
riding the trails near our “farmette,”
even though he used to tell anyone
It was a choice I’d hoped to never make: euthanize my horse or have his eye removed. It wasn’t fair to Sam. With continuous problems in both eyes over the last several years, including ulcers, scratched corneas, uveitis, medi- cation several times a day, numerous vet visits, and constant pain until the latest injury healed, this was hardly the way for an old horse to enjoy his retirement. Owners of equine senior citizens often have serious decisions to
make concerning their horse’s health. Finances may limit what you’re able to do
to make their lives more comfortable. It can be head versus heart. Some owners
have no choice when the vet makes the decision for you, or if the expense is too
much to bear.
In my case, I felt his years of service to his many riders had earned him some
quality golden years, especially since I could care for him at home. When I made
this decision, I never thought the 10 years I expected to be his caretaker would
stretch into over 20 years!
I called the vet and scheduled the eye removal surgery. With help from two
other vets in the practice and me (I was the “fetch-it” in the equation), the
removal went very smoothly right in his stall. Sam stood quietly anesthetized
with his nose resting on a hay bale to keep his head up. He was a perfect patient
right down to the last stitch.
Sam spent the rest of the day and evening quietly resting in his stall. When I let
him out into our small paddock the next morning, he bucked and cantered around
like a horse 15 years younger. He had only one eye but, finally, no pain. A N D