Episode 105-Older horses and the decision to euthanize



In this podcast, I’m going to discuss a tough subject, older horses, and the decision to euthanize. This decision is often made in emergency situations or when the quality of life is an issue. In my case, I can also see an impending crisis coming. Separating and understanding the emotions and the facts that surround each situation, and then putting them together to make a decision has been helpful for me. Listen to hear more.

Links mentioned in podcast:

https://thehorse.com/151225/time-to-say-goodbye/ – Great article

“Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened.”- Roxy’s Story

For over 30 years I have owned horses but the last 5 months have been the worst.-Losing multiple horses in a few months…


  1. Pam Krull on January 18, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    Thank you, Stacy. I’m grateful for this podcast. I feel better prepared for what I too will be facing sometime in the future.
    My 22 year old quarter horse gelding has navicular and wears special shoes. He’s also had chronic hind end lameness for many years. (My vets theorize caused from him flipping over early in life. I bought him as a two year old and at that tender age he had freshly healed spur marks on his sides. The scars are still visible to this day). Though he saw a number of vets and specialists through the years, the hind end issues would never fully resolve and I made the decision to retire him from riding in 2013. At that time I made a promise he would live out his days under my watchful eye and when his quality of life diminished I would not let him suffer.
    His pain is manageable for now and I’m able to keep weight on him with a disciplined feeding program. But I’m aware things will inevitably change. Your podcast has helped me to know what to consider, what to expect and how to be better prepared so I can make the right decisions for him.

    • Stacy Westfall on January 18, 2021 at 4:20 pm

      I’m so glad it helped you. It is a tough decision but it can also contain peace when you know it’s the right thing. Peace and pain together. So strange.
      Thank you for taking care of him!

  2. Reta Muellemann on January 9, 2021 at 5:15 pm

    This hit home for me on the subject of hearing facts but not processing in a vet clinic. I’ve experienced and planned with senior horses I’ve owned. The punch in the gut came when I took a mini mare into a clinic for removal of primary teeth she failed to lose normally. I found my self looking at X-rays of my mares skull with a huge dark area in the sinus and orbital floor and hearing but not hearing what the vet was telling me. Bottom line I was faced with a unplanned euthanasia because it was a fast growing tumor. Surgery would have turned her into a science project and her quality of life would have been awful. I’m still struggling over it 5 years later.

    • Stacy Westfall on January 9, 2021 at 6:21 pm

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I prefer seeing the old age creeping up vs the sudden shock at a vet clinic. The inability to process while knowing they are communicating with you is a tough spot to be in.

  3. Kim DeRisi on December 20, 2020 at 10:31 pm

    I’m so glad you did this podcast. My 25 year old gelding has had arthritis for years. He is loosing weight and not looking well. His knees don’t want to bend when he walks. I live in Indiana and the weather will be getting even colder next week. I think it’s time to put him down but not sure that I can do it. I don’t want to see him in pain. Just last month he was running and bucking. Some days are better than others. When is the right time to euthanize and let them have peace.? He can still get up and lay down. It’s a hard decision. Thank you for talking about this!

  4. Cheryl Crowdson on December 19, 2020 at 11:25 pm

    I have a 29 year old that is doing exceptionally well, considering . . . She had to have 2 teeth pulled this fall and so now eats only soft senior complete feed. She tries to eat grass when its available. (I live in Illinois, so at this time it is not.) She is maintaining her weight and getting around fine. I wish she could be in a warmer climate, but that is not possible. I keep her locked in her stall when the ground is slippery or dangerous for her. She hates that. I’m not sure if she’ll make it through this winter, but we’ll see. I rescued her when she was 17 so she’s had great care for awhile now. Thank you, Stacy for your insight. I’ve never had to make a decision like this, but I don’t want her to suffer. Time will tell . . .

  5. Anne Hunter on December 17, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    This is a podcast I have not been able to listen to. About 2 weeks before this, I had to put down my 20yo navicular Quarter horse. He had been a stalwart of our county fair for 4 different 4H members and always came home with some ribbons. The last girl who took him to our fair entered 9 classes and came home with 8 ribbons, 2 of them Blue. Maybe someday, I can listen.

  6. Melva Kramer on December 17, 2020 at 11:33 am

    Thank you so much for this podcast, so heartfelt and beautiful. I had to make that decision in 2018 with my mare. She was late 20s and I’d had her for 5 short years….but I learned so much from that cantankerous mare. I think she tolerated me most of the time but toward the end, she truly seemed to realize that I kept my promise that I would take care of her if she took care of me. ♥️

  7. Roz on November 26, 2020 at 5:46 am

    Amazing – thank you for sharing – I honestly wondered if I could cope with this topic. it was so heartfelt listening to you with what had happened to your horses – I never knew what had happened to Roxy or Vaquero. And you so love Scrapper – but you are doing the right thing – You explain it all so well. So terribly sorry. Big hugs Stacy xx

  8. Joanne on November 21, 2020 at 9:16 am

    Scrapper is lucky to have a human in his life that cared so much about him and put so much thought into such an agonizing decision. The pain we feel when we loose a beloved creature is directly proportional to the joy they brought us throughout their life.

  9. Shelley Schaffer on November 21, 2020 at 12:09 am

    Stacy, My heart goes out to you. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story of a cherished horse. By sharing his story you have helped all of us prepare for or come to terms with our own similar decisions. Not many would be so brave to share your heartfelt thoughts that lead you to your ultimate choice. Thank you for talking about something so hard that just the thought brings the hardest emotions. Thank you for helping all of us, he lives on through all of us listeners now. …smile because he happened. May God bless you always.

  10. Carol Callahan on November 18, 2020 at 7:25 am

    I’ll be watching this episode. Two weeks ago I had to make that decision for my mare, Zippin to Summer. She was only 24, but A-Fib Cushings, and bad arthritis in her knee. The morning I woke up and found she had developed Sidewinders Syndrome made my decision pretty easy, but still agonizing. She now rests in peace in her favorite spot. I have a photo of her watching as I chatted with you on the phone on a “coffee brake”. It’s one of my favorites.

    • Stacy Westfall on November 25, 2020 at 7:38 am

      Carol-I’m so sorry for your loss. I remember that photo! To listen to the podcast, click the small play button on this page and you can listen when you are ready. Sounds like we are on similar sad paths at the moment.

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