Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gus Must Go

We don't bring a horse into our home lightly.  We don't make a habit of buying and selling our horses.  Our intentions are that they live with us for the rest of their lives. 

I know I'm raw from losing Poco this week but I'm going to break our life long rule when it comes to Gus.  It was Gus who pinned Poco in the large double stall (where there was plenty of room and food), bucking out and kicking Poco on the middle of his left leg, shattering it.

And outside the stall, where Poco had drug himself while we initially examined him, in shock from what we saw, it was Gus who had initially stood there quietly observing us, only to back up to Poco and start bucking at him once again, while we stood at Poco's head. 

He got direct hits on Poco in the flanks along with the worst, a direct hit on Poco's injured leg...the agony of pain that crossed Poco's face...words can't explain.  That visual and the loss of a horse who always avoided conflict at all costs, prompts me to pursue removing Gus from our home.

I will never again feel comfortable about putting Gus in with other horses.  While Gus remains here he will live in solitary confinement.

Yes, I am bitter and I am angry about what happened.  Not only angry at Gus but angry at myself.  If I would have had any idea that there would be a conflict I would never had put them together.  They've lived together before, peacefully, wintering together.  Poco's evasive personality for conflicts and Gus's easy nature don't correlate to what happened that day.

I've told my husband Gus must go.  He agrees.  But go where?  Am I passing something on that could possibly hurt someone else's horse?

So I struggle with whether I should offer Gus to another home or if I should have him put down.  It's an ugly decision either way and something I'm not proud of. 

But forgiving and forgetting are not an option.  What would you do?


  1. Is Gus rideable? If he is, adopt him out to someone who wants an only horse, or boards at a stable where all of the horses are seperated. Of course giving full disclosure over why he should not be turned out with other horses.

    IF he is not rideable, that makes things more difficult. But, you will make the right choice.

  2. That's a super tough decision. Hard to sell a horse like that. He's big, he eats a lot... in this economy I would think it would be a hard sell, but you never know. Some people are still managing to sell horses.
    It's one decision you have to make on your own. Sending a hug your way. We support you no matter what you decide.

  3. What an agonizing decision. I can feel the rawness of your pain in your writing. Speaking from my 45+ year horse experience, unless you can find a home who understands the issue and who will treat it seriously, I would euthanize him. Then you will never have to guess if he will strike out again, nor would you feel the guilt if he did. I have been reading your blog long enough to think that you would not react swiftly in anger, and will make your decision wisely, no matter the outcome. Again, I am so sorry for the loss of Poco and for the decision you must make.

    Christiana in NJ

  4. What a terrible decision to make.

    Poco and Gus used to get along just fine. I wonder if the removal of Bob from the pasture caused the two remaining guys to sort out the herd dynamics again and figure out who was the leader. It's too bad that Poco had no way to escape from Gus and was injured so seriously. Horses kick each other all the time without anything more serious than a bump or knick.

    When my neighbor Val brought in a new mare, that she had bought at auction, to share the paddock with her little appy mare and new colt, the new mare kicked her appy mare in the upper chest and neck. She had no idea that such a kick would kill her appy mare, but within a few days the swelling caused her mare to be unable to eat and eventually to breathe.
    She did end up keeping the new mare, though, even though it was a tough heartbreaking decision because the appy mare was one of those 'worth her weight in gold' horses and had helped her daughter learn how to ride.
    She still has he appy mare's colt, who is now a 16 yr old gelding, as well as the mare that killed his Mama. She bred that mare almost 3 yrs ago and she gave Val a beautiful black/bay Arabian filly. So, it worked out in the end for her.
    I'm sorry you have to go through this.

    This is from one of your recent posts and it struck a chord with me after reading this post:

    "There is something we've learned throughout the years about having multiple horses. It's called Peace in the Pasture(s). It's important that everybody gets along, can rest, eat and drink in peace. It's the reason Poco and Gus are wintering together and Bob is next door. It's not how I'd prefer it to be and you can bet it's not how Bob would prefer it, but so far, so good."

    Ironic isn't it? Really makes you think. We can do everything we can to try and make things safe and peaceful for our horses, but in the end, it's totally up to the horses.


  5. It would hurt me to put him down but would hurt me more if I was to have him go to another home and do the same thing to another horse or worse a person. There must be something that has made him snap all of a sudden and that can be dangerouse for all ! An unstable horse at that size can be deadly ! I am talking from experiance from when on our hobby farm and working with horses in my younger years ! There was a lady I knew when I was younger who had a Dale and he was huge she had him for 16 years never a mean bone in his body and then one day he turned on her and bit a chunk out of her side ! I hope this helps with this tuff decision !

  6. Oh My Gosh! My heart just bleeds for you. With the loss of Poco, and with this awful decision that you have to make. Gus is such a pretty boy, and why he did what he did, you will probably never know. You are in my prayers.

  7. It is so hard what you are going through. I would probably do the same thing.
    I have a friend that this same thing happened to, they totally got out of horses.
    Gus needs to be with other drafts maybe, his own size. Just keep in mind that horses live in the moment, and he has no idea what he did.
    Hang in there.

  8. That's a tough decision. Is it at all possible that he could have a tumour? I have heard before that sometimes they can cause aggressive behaviour, but I really don't know a great deal about them. If he is acting abnormally though, it may be worth getting him checked out before making your decision.

    If you were to sell him, I would let any potential buyers know the situation. That way they could make arrangements to keep him in a seperate paddock where he can still see other horses, but couldn't harm them. Sorry I can't be more helpful, that's all I've got.

  9. Okay at first I thought I was reading a post from a few months ago. I hade to check the date. I am so sorry that this happened. How hard to see Poco suffer. I think I would feel the same. It comes down to safety and not knowing what triggered him and what could do it again. I think I would put him down. Probably best for you and him too. It sounds like you could have been kicked as well. I always think it's better to know that they lived a good life until the end than to not know what the future holds for them out of your care and possible putting other people or animals in danger. Unless someone is willing to take that risk and keep him solo I think it's kinder to put him down. Just my thoughts since you asked. I know you will do the right thing. You always do. Ailene

  10. I completely understand your decision to get rid of Gus. When our mare Galaxy kicked Chrome in the jaw (we thought it was broken, but it wasn't) I separated them and got rid of her (she also threatened to kick humans). I have not regretted the decision. I'm so sorry you're going through all of this after your loss of Poco. I agree with the first person who commented. If you can find a one horse home for him I would go with rehomeing (with full disclosure), but if there is a chance he could kill another horse I would euthanize. I wish you well in your decision and you're still in my thoughts.

  11. Gosh what a hard decision to make. I don't feel like I know enough about Gus (and his past) to really weigh in. However without knowing his story, my initial reaction is re-homing to an appropriate place. Maybe a heart-to-heart with your trusted vet on the situation will help you decide? Best of luck. I'll support whatever decision, fully knowing it wasn't made lightly.