A Promise to My Aging Horse

Owning horses sometimes requires making tough choices, especially as they get older.
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A Promise to my Aging Horse
Photo: iStock

You and I, my friend, have known each other a long time. Since you took your first wobbly steps and latched onto your dam. My intention helped make you, handsome horse that you turned out to be.

Time has passed since then, and each year your bones ache a bit more from wear, and your back gives way to gravity as it sways closer to the ground. Each year, I know the inevitable is closer, too.

This I promise you

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Written by:

Michelle Anderson is the former digital managing editor at The Horse. A lifelong horse owner, Anderson competes in dressage and enjoys trail riding. She’s a Washington State University graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business administration and extensive coursework in animal sciences. She has worked in equine publishing since 1998. She currently lives with her husband on a small horse property in Central Oregon.

18 Responses

  1. I, too, have an older horse. She is a 26 year old quarter horse named Gypsy. I, also have a rescue named Annie. She was about two when she came to live with me and is now about eleven. Both girls are a treasure that I will never part with and they will NEVER live anywhere else but with me. I will soon be 84, and apart from some back problems I can get around OK. I have told my children that when my time comes that my horses should be euthanized. To some, this may sound awful, but I can’t bear the thought of my girls being mistreated or put on one of those awful trucks and end up at a slaughter house. My girls give me so much joy and pleasure and it is my duty y to do my best for them.

  2. re: A Promise to My Aging Horse

    As a horse owner, lover, or caregiver, making this decision can be one of the hardest decisions we have to make. But if the horse is in pain and there is no way to stop that pain, then it is more than likely for the best. Working in a barn myself, I ha

  3. re: A Promise to My Aging Horse

    Thank you, Michelle. Our Auster is 33 and we have been battling a tendon injury for the last 8 months. I have exhausted ever option in an attempt to let him heal or, at least, be comfortable. I was there when his mother gave birth to him, at the age of

  4. re: A Promise to My Aging Horse

    My TWH is now 31 and looks 20 (according to my vet).  He has penile squamous cell carcinoma since 2008, has a history of asthma, borderline cushings and suffers from anhidrosis. I live on a fixed income but his needs come first and always. When I

  5. re: A Promise to My Aging Horse

    I would never turn my back on my aging mare. She is 20 and that makes her a senior.  I am with her till the end.  I owe her the respect to see her through her last day….even if I have to make the decision. I am sorry for those of you who ha

  6. re: A Promise to My Aging Horse

    I would never turn my back on my aging mare. She is 20 and that makes her a senior.  I am with her till the end.  I owe her the respect to see her through her last day….even if I have to make the decision. I am sorry for those of you who ha

  7. re: A Promise to My Aging Horse

    I would never turn my back on my aging mare. She is 20 and that makes her a senior.  I am with her till the end.  I owe her the respect to see her through her last day….even if I have to make the decision. I am sorry for those of you who ha

  8. re: A Promise to My Aging Horse

    Lovely sentiments.  Thank you for this article.  I always remember the words of Antoine de St.Exupery who wrote The Little Prince.  In that book he said ‘…you are forever responsible for what you have tamed.’  If everyone was so r

  9. re: A Promise to My Aging Horse

    My horse Finn will be 30 next month. I go without so he may have the best of everything, he deserves it. Everyday, rain or shine,twice a day I arrive with his mushed up pellets & equine senior; he always greets me like a hero; we go for long walks;

  10. re: A Promise to My Aging Horse

    All mine are with me for life, they’ve given me the best years of their lives, I will care for them till the end.  Anything else is the ultimate betrayer to a good and faithful friend.  I’ve lost three, all over 30, in the last six months.

  11. re: A Promise to My Aging Horse

    All mine are with me for life, they’ve given me the best years of their lives, I will care for them till the end.  Anything else is the ultimate betrayer to a good and faithful friend.  I’ve lost three, all over 30, in the last six months.

  12. re: A Promise to My Aging Horse

    I had to put my first horse down 6 years ago.  Although I still miss her terribly, I have never regretted the timing.  This was a beautifully written article, that I wish all horse (and any pet) owners would take to heart.  This promise

  13. re: A Promise to My Aging Horse

    What a wonderful article…very touching. I too, have senior horses and will one day have to make that decision, but in my mind it is the only decision there is to make. I have repeatedly told my family members that they are NOT to take them to auction

  14. re: A Promise to My Aging Horse

    This is so pertinent for me right now. I am having to have my horse put down on Tuesday and it is the hardest decision to make but yet it would be worse to let him suffer. Thanks for this article.

  15. re: A Promise to My Aging Horse

    This blog hit so close to home.

    As did the follow up comments.

    It is incredible to me that people who own animals find it so difficult to make a plan for their care.

    You need to love them enough to let them go peacefully.

    <

  16. re: A Promise to My Aging Horse

    I made that promise to both of my old horses, and had to carry it out for my old mare two weeks ago.

    A co-worker once told me the story of her old gelding who could barely walk, was in pain, and I had gently suggested that maybe the time for a

  17. re: A Promise to My Aging Horse

    "Promise" can be applied to nearly all companion animals not just horses.  So many dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are "dumped" at shelters or abandoned on the streets to "fend for themselves" when they are no longer

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