This is an important discussion most people shy away from (so of course, we won't here!) None of us like to think about this, but every morning may be our last. All it takes is one drunk driver or an unlucky moment working around a horse or some internal weakness we never knew we had to give way or some wacko shooting randomly in the shopping mall - and we won't be around to feed the horses this evening. Death is not just something that happens to old people or sick people. It truly could happen to any of us, and if it did, what would become of our horses?
One of my readers e-mailed to tell me of a real tragedy in the Clydesdale world. Devere and Barb Clay and two of their granddaughters were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in their living quarters at the first World Clyde Show in over 100 years. News story here. Well, even though the Clays have other family members involved in horses, they don't seem to have felt the need to care for Grandma and Grandpa's horses. Hey, those Clydesdales eat, you know? And even though they are in the cheapest place to buy hay in the nation, they've gotta go! So they're just having a big ass auction on December 15th. Pictures are posted - these are some truly nice Clydesdales. As the person who sent this to me suggested, "For someone who wants to breed quality Clydes, warmbloods or sporthorses, start with a great mare like one of these; not some heeedious PMU mare,…" I couldn't agree more. If you are going to breed a draft cross, start with a good draft and these are some very good drafts! (Not to mention that I personally think Clyde crosses are just really nice minded. I learned to ride on one - he was a superstar.) Many of the mares ride and drive - they're not just broodies. Many have show records. If you're in the Midwest, I hope you will check them out. These horses are being ditched through no fault of their own, and I'm sure will be bargains.
But ok, here's what I really want to talk about: Do you have a plan, in writing, for your horses if you disappear from the world today before feeding time? A friend and I just recently talked about how we need to have a formal written agreement to ensure that we get the other's horses if something happens and that no family members try to intervene. I'm sure a lot of you reading this have a spouse who doesn't love the horses the way you do, or family that you know will look at the horses as cash to be made. Folks, get something in writing - it's important. If your wishes aren't clear, your family can ship them all to the kill buyer if they want to.
I'm fortunate in that I have a couple of different people I truly would trust to care for my horses if I do not outlive them. I know they can afford the care, and will do it. Do you have someone like that? I know people who have it in their will that their animals must all be euthanized, because they don't have someone like that and fear the alternatives. What do you think about that? (I personally don't have a problem with it. I'm always, ultimately, a realist. Not enough homes. Not enough good homes.)
So let's talk. What's your plan? Is it in writing/in your will? Are the people you will leave your horses to financially stable enough to handle it? Even if hay goes up another 50%? What are you doing, and what can you do now, to ensure that your horses truly will be cared for whether or not you are here to do it?