Fates Much Worse Than Death: Racehorse Trainer Speaks Out on Humane Euthanasia

  • Horse & Hound is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission on some of the items you choose to purchase. Learn more
  • A racehorse trainer who gave two of his horses a peaceful end at home after trying everything to give them a happy life says there are ‘far worse fates than death’.

    Ted and Passato were shot on July 28, and dual-purpose trainer Jo Davis said Horse and Dog the decision “broke me”.



    “I’ve seen so many horses abandoned by humans and if I had thought for a second I could give those horses a good life until they died, [putting them down] wouldn’t have even been considered,” she said.

    Jo explained that Passato, “the horse that has done the most for me in my career”, was injured, so he went to Jo’s mother for his retirement.

    “His horse was dead and the other was alone, so I thought that was perfect,” she said. “She started telling me he had separation anxiety, and I was like, ‘Don’t be silly,’ but I used to go get them, and he’d go crazy if he couldn’t see the other horse He was walking around and losing his mind Mom kept him for five years because she loved him but then he broke her She’s 75 and I said “We’ll bring him back here”.

    Jo tried different fields but Passato ran along the fence so much that his chest bled. When he entered during the heat wave, he “climbed the walls, screaming and screaming”.

    “I was like, ‘You can’t live like this,'” Jo said. “I loved and adored this little horse, and if I could have let him live his days, I would have.”

    Ted had been sent to what Jo thought was a home for life two and a half years ago, but she had recently received an email saying that he had snuck his date and they didn’t want to keep him. .

    Jo, who said the horse always had the potential to be nimble, picked him up and put him to work, then sent him hacking – and he came back on his own.

    “[The rider] said she had never sat anything like this,” Jo said. “Turn, plant, run backwards, shake. He didn’t know what he was doing until he fell; he was clearly gone, mentally, and I thought, “That’s my answer.”

    “You feel like you let them down by not being able to save them. But that’s the good thing.

    Jo added: “It is our duty to give our horses the least stressful life; we let them down when we keep them alive for our feelings.

    A life well lived

    Welfare experts and veterinarians have spoken in the past about the importance of a life well lived for horses, that quality of life far outweighs length, and that delayed euthanasia is a major welfare concern, and equine euthanasia should be considered a positive welfare option.

    “I think people have to take responsibility, and there are far worse fates than death,” Jo said. “I’m not going to sugarcoat it; it broke me, my horses are my world. I would have found all the excuses but I said to myself: “I have to manage this”. The horses came in and had food, and were sedated and led quietly one by one. It broke me but they are in a better place now, and I truly believe that.

    Jo said she felt she had to post on Facebook because she thinks a recession is coming, and “people need to understand that there is worse than death, and they need to do good with chronically lame horses. , or skin and bones, or otherwise past the point of having happy lives, or dangerous lives that they pass on because they can’t handle them”.

    “These things happen and it’s normal to feel like a loser and make that decision. It’s a good option, even if it seems like the worst, and it’s done in a dignified way and the horse doesn’t know anything.

    She added: “Good evening boys and Passato my old friend, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, you have given me so much and I owe you so much, I’m sorry.”

    A spokesman for the British Horseracing Authority said H&H“On some occasions, horses cannot be rehomed at the end of their racing career. On these occasions, euthanasia can be considered the most humane outcome for a horse to prevent it from falling into neglect or living an inappropriate lifestyle. These decisions are never made lightly, but are an important part of responsible ownership. »

    She added that there are guidelines, introduced in 2020 as a recommendation of the Horse Welfare Board’s Welfare Strategy, to ensure euthanasia is only used in the right circumstances. This states that it should only be an option when all other options have been considered and euthanasia is in the best interest of the horse. He says when possible it should be at home or in an “appropriate environment”.

    “For this reason, we strongly advise against the unnecessary transportation of horses for slaughter when euthanasia can be performed at home,” she said. “It’s about showing respect to the horse in exchange for the service it has rendered to its owner and loved ones, and restoring the horse’s dignity at the end of its life.”

    Roly Owers, CEO of World Horse Welfare, said H&H“We thought Jo’s message was a welcome, courageous and honest account of the heartbreaking decision all horse owners must be prepared to make to truly put the welfare of their horses first. Euthanasia may be the right choice to protect the welfare of a horse that is in mental or physical pain, or likely to be in pain if passed on to someone else.

    “Rehousing older horses, or those with health or behavioral issues, is not only a challenge, but a real gamble for the future welfare of that horse. More often than not, it’s the kinder and more responsible option to put a horse to sleep in familiar surroundings rather than recklessly or overly optimistically rehoming it.

    “This is an emotional issue, and any negative reaction to Jo’s decision likely stems from a well-meaning but mistaken belief that good well-being is about quantity rather than quality of life. Horses “live in the moment” and providing them with good times and minimizing the negatives is a key aspect of providing them with a good life, which is a key aspect of responsible ownership. For more information on end-of-life issues, see our End of life page.”

    You might also be interested in…

    Horse & Hound magazine, published every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and features, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, veterinary advice and training. Find out how you can benefit the magazine delivered at your doorstep every week, as well as options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service which brings you the latest news and reports as well as other benefits.

    About Norman Griggs

    Check Also

    The Pope denounces euthanasia in 3 sentences

    “Let the animals kill…” On his return trip from Kazakhstan, the pope was asked about …