Although it is probably the most difficult decision a horse owner has to make, sometimes perhaps euthanasia is the kindest thing you can do for your horse.

When is the right time?

The decision to euthanase your horse may be obvious in an emergency situation when your horse has a severe injury or illness. However at other times this decision can be very difficult. With an elderly horse or a horse that is suffering from a long-standing and painful condition, the quality of your horse’s life must always be considered. Ultimately the decision of when is the right time is yours to make, usually with guidance from your vet and close friends and family.

The Euthanasia Process:

Euthanasia is to induce death quickly, painlessly and humanely.

There are two main options for the method of euthanasia. Your horse can be injected with a lethal dose of anaesthetic. This is usually a quick and quiet option. Horses are usually sedated and a catheter is placed in the vein. After the injection the horse will lose consciousness and collapse. Your horse can also be shot, however this is decreasingly used, partly due to the safety and legal issues associated with carrying firearms but also because clients often request euthanasia by injection. The horse is usually sedated before being shot and when it is shot then the effect is instantaneous. It is sometimes a more appropriate method for a very needle shy horse.

Disposal of the body:

Arrangements for removal and disposal of the horse need to be made prior to euthanasia of the horse except in emergencies. Vehicle access is needed for removal and so horses are not usually euthanased in a stable. There are several choices for disposal but some depend on the method of euthanasia and any medication/health problems when the horse died:

  • Cremation: We usually use H. Pawson & Son ( - 07887931222 - 01507 343 568) who provide an efficient and professional collection and cremation service. Cremation is the usual method of disposal and can be done regardless of the method of euthanasia or health of the horse. Individual cremation with the ashes returned to you is also available.
  • Hunt kennels: local hunts may take the carcass as long as the horse was not put down by lethal injection, was not on certain medications and was not suffering from a disease to make it unsuitable for consumption.
  • Burial: you need to check with your local council as to whether they allow burial of horses as each case is considered individually.


If your horse is insured and you decide to have it put down, you must notify your insurance company before the procedure. This is the case in all circumstances except emergencies when the insurers should be notified as soon as possible.

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