Options for Horse Owners
If you are in a situation where you need to re-home your horse, please review our Resources for Owners page. There are many resources available to owners (usually within specific states) to help you keep your horses at home. These “Safety Net” programs are short term options to help owners get through a period of difficulty or transition.
Unwanted Horse Coalition Handouts
Although many resources do exist, sometimes euthanasia is an option that is good for the horse, the owner, and the facilities asked to take on the horse’s care. These articles can help you decide if the time is right.
Difficult though it may be to contemplate, there may come a time when, for humane or other reasons, you need to consider euthanasia for your horse. Choosing whether, or when, to end a beloved animal’s life may be the hardest decision you ever have to make regarding your horse’s welfare. However, it may be one of the most responsible and compassionate things we can do for our horses.
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It’s never an easy decision to make, but perhaps the most compassionate thing you can do for a horse that is extremely ill, severely injured, lame, or dangerous is to have your veterinarian induce its death quickly and humanely through euthanasia.
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Questions for current horse owners
- Sell your horse privately
- Second career
- Pasture mate
- Sell your horse at auction
- Trade your horse for a horse more suitable for your needs
- Lease your horse
- Partial or full Lease
- Donate your horse to a worthy organization
- Therapeutic riding program
- Mounted police units
- College and university riding and veterinary programs
- Retire your horse
- Equine retirement facilities
- On your own property
- Have your horse humanely euthanized by a veterinarian
Regulations regarding disposal vary greatly from state to state. In some locales, it is illegal to bury a chemically euthanized horse because the high levels of barbiturate make the carcass an environmental hazard. The average cost to euthanize and dispose of a horse is $385.
Not all landfills will accept horses. Landfills that do accept horses may charge between $80 and $150.
Incineration/cremation can cost between $500 and $2,000.
Rendering companies will normally pick up the remains and charge a fee ranging between $75 and $200.
Composting may be free or very inexpensive but requires space and heavy machinery capable of mixing and maintaining the pile.
Several veterinary colleges and industrial research facilities own biodigesters. The Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory estimates that a biodigester can dispose of a carcass for $0.25 per pound, as opposed to $0.75 per pound using an incinerator.