Updated: Jun 10
Euthanasia due to unruly horse behavior is not something talked about much in the horse world even though it does happen. And if you're like me, you literally shutter at the thought of it and do not see it as an option!
However different countries and equestrian cultures have different perspectives on this. Some see it as the humane way to deal with a behavioral issue that in their eyes just can't be figured out, which shocked me when I learned this.
I personally believe there is always a root cause for a horse's behavioral issues and sometimes it just takes lots of patience and time to find it! However I do have a personal experience where a couple of horses were put done due to a devastating issue causing their behavioral problems.
From my many years of working with horses, I knew two horses each with different owners that had overtime became so unpredictable with their emotions that they were at times dangerous. The owners were at a loss and wanted to figure out what was going on. Well the horses both ended up were having issues breathing where their vets had to be called out and through the examination brain tumors were found. The vets told the owners there was nothing that could be done and that as time goes on, their horses could become more erratic and dangerous and that euthanasia was the humane option. The owners gave their horses the best few weeks possible and respectively put them down. This was devastating but we all at least knew the root cause and the owners could make the best decision for their horses.
Now first off I don't want that story to scare you and brain tumors in horses are very rare! This story was more to point out that I do believe euthanasia due to horse behavior has a place IF it is stemming from a medical issue that has no cure and can become worse over time. But otherwise I believe there is a root cause that can be helped and fixed!
Many times, horse owners that feel euthanasia for their horse's behavioral issue is the best option is because they do not have the support or right resources to help them and their horse. They may have trainers who do not have proper knowledge of horse behavior or trainers who make the issue worse and then blame the horse for being untrainable/crazy! The people at their barn could also be saying things that negatively affect their perspective of their horse's behavioral issue leading them to feel like their is nothing that can help their horse. And a horse owner may believe that if they sell their horse that the horse could still be put down anyways due to this issue. All of this can lead the horse owner to believe the only humane option is euthanasia.
I respect all horse owners who are trying to help their horses with behavioral issues. I see the struggle, the pain, anxiety, frustration and sadness. And I NEVER want a horse owner to feel like their only option is euthanasia. It is not and you have options!
There is a root cause and sometimes you have to be like Sherlock Holmes and keep sleuthing until you find it! Do not give up!