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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Euthanasia —Putting a Good Horse Down

The PRCA BUC-DAYS Rodeo held in Corpus Christi this past last April brought a lot of action as any rodeo would. Strong athletes performed in every event from riders, horses and bulls.

“During the Saddle Bronc event I watched the shoot begin to open but the horse seem
to sit down as if it did not want to exit” stated Cindy G. of Corpus Christi. The Rodeo
crew shut the gate as the rider got ready to buck out for second chance on the same
horse. Nodding his head, the gate flew open and the horse bucked out. I have seen this
horse perform before at the Sinton, Texas Wild Card Rodeo and knew this was what
seemed to be a strong horse. Suddenly, the horse fell to the ground lying on her side.
The beautiful mare kicked with pain as the rodeo support staff rushed out to her aid.
The official Rodeo Veterinarian was immediately on hand to offer his assistance and
transportation of the animal. The horse was rolled onto a drag board and a tractor
removed the horse to the back of the arena where the veterinary could examine the
injury. The crowd was silent. The announcer began talking about animal care and what
may happen if the injury was too severe. “Euthanasia” a kind way of saying to kill the
animal “Putting a Good Horse Down.”  Cindy further stated, “I wonder if this horse was
injured before release from the gate.”.

We all have watch the movie where the horse breaks its leg and the good cowboy
shoots the horse mercifully so that the animal would not suffer. However, Texas A&M
University has taken many of these injured horses and performs surgery and
operations leading these animals back to a life where they can still walk and even
sometimes run. Although, these operations are costly and working horses become just
a pasture horse loosing money on owner’s investment. Furthermore, the animal must
be able to remain in a stall lifted in a sling to avoid putting pressure on the leg for
several months. Additionally, the general care and time is enough to drain anyone’s
pocket book.  More often, working animals are treated different from the pleasure
animals since working animals often are not treated as pets.

However, like the movie’s, the PRCA Official veterinarian suggested the best course of
action was to put the horse down as the ankle break was to severe. The owner who
manages as a Rodeo Stock Contractor agreed and his 21 year old mare was put to
sleep. “She will be missed deeply stated the owner” a former world champion bull rider.
She will surely be missed by the many folks who have watched her perform. It is a
hard choice which no individual ever wants to make. Injuries occur to even the best
athletes in any sport.

It’s something no horse owner wants to think about. While horses have a life
expectancy of twenty-Six to thirty years, we are never ready to say goodbye to our old
friends. However, even younger horses can face the prospect of euthanasia in the
event of severe illness or injuries. Unpleasant as the prospect is, having a plan and
knowing what to expect can save both you and your horse unnecessary suffering. 

The decision is left in the owner’s hands. Few veterinarians will recommend that a
horse should be put down. Their job is not to do that. If your horse becomes very ill,
badly hurt, or is facing emergency surgery, the veterinarian’s role is to clearly
communicate the facts about your horse’s condition and its odds of survival and
recovery. This gives you the information you need to make a decision about what to do
next. Let’s hope you never need to make this decision.

Story by Roger Edison

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