It’s not easy to think about nor is it easy to accept, but horse death and horses dying are just the natural way of things. Even though horses can live for a long time (25 to 33 years on average) the truth is that we’ll end up outliving them in most cases. This means we need to be prepared for the worse, and we need to be equipped with the skills to handle this unfortunate situation.
There are some things that you can do beforehand to prepare for your horse’s death. One of them is reading this article and learning what is usually done with a horse after it dies. The others involve logistics and planning – insure the horse, properly dispose of its remains, and cope with its loss in a peaceful and healthy manner.
To answer this article’s main question, when a horse dies, the owners have several ways to go about disposing of its remains: they can bury the horse, cremate it, burn it themselves, or have a professional come over and take care of it all. The way you choose to go about this matters. It matters because, if done properly, it will help you with closure and peace of mind.
Disposing of your horse’s remains in a respectful and peaceful manner will help you get over the loss and focusing on the fondest memories you have together. Disposing of a horse’s carcass is not easy, nor should it be taken lightly. Depending on where you live, you might be limited by some local laws, so make sure to ask around and see what you’re allowed to do and what’s considered illegal.
How to dispose of a horse’s remains properly.
Option 1: Burial.
Depending on your faith and your own view of life and death, you might want to consider burying your horse. However, this might not be as easy as you think in some locations in the United States.
The main thing you need to remember is that recent legislation dictates that horses and ponies kept for commercial purposes cannot be buried. However, you might qualify for an exemption if you make the case that your horse or pony was kept as a pet. That’s not particularly easy either, as we now know that horses are actually considered livestock and not pets in the United States.
If you decide to go on this route, your success rate may vary depending on your location, your lawyer, your veterinarian, and quite frankly your luck.
However, if you own the land yourself, you will definitely have an easier time burying your horse. Furthermore, pet cemeteries might also accept your horse if you make a compelling case. It won’t be cheap, though, as horses are large animals that take up quite a bit of space.
A quick note on racehorses.
When it comes to winning racehorses, tradition dictates that only their head, heart, and hooves are buried upon their death. The only notable exception from this rule was the horse Secretariat, who was actually buried whole.
If your horse is not a racehorse and you’re absolutely convinced you want to bury it, your best bet is to get a piece of land and do it yourself (with help, of course), or make the case that your horse was kept as a pet to the local authorities. Pet cemeteries for horses can also work.
Option 2: Cremation.
If burial is out of the question, cremation is the next obvious choice. It’s a more difficult choice for some horse owners, and that’s because cremation reduces a horse’s mighty state to a small pile of ash. You do get to keep the urn and ashes, though, which can bring comfort.
Furthermore, you get to choose when and if to spread the horse’s ashes. This simple act can bring you peace and put an end to your grieving process. The true downside of cremation is that you’ll have to transport your horse on-site if it died on your own property or anywhere outside of an animal hospital.
Some animal hospitals can perform euthanasia on-site and then cremate the horse’s remains on the premises. This is the easiest way to go for a horse owner, but it’s also the most expensive route.
Cremating a horse will set you back anywhere between $1500 to $3500. Not cheap at all. However, now that you know this, you can set aside some money specifically for this.
Option 3: Burning the remains.
This option is a bit more, how should I put this…uncivilized? There’s nothing inherently wrong with burning your own horse’s remains in a safe and controlled fashion. It’s just that cremation is faster and easier for everyone involved. Still, if money is an issue, and you have space, ability, and the stomach to do so, you can burn your own horse’s remains.
Again, you’ll need to talk to a lawyer or inquire about your local state laws, as burning livestock carcasses might actually be illegal in your region. If it’s not, then you’ll still need to notify your local fire department of what you’re about to do, as you’ll need a rather large fire to get the deed done.
You’ll need to keep the fire burning for a few good hours, so you’ll need to supervise the process yourself or have someone else be there for the duration. Not my favorite choice, burning, but I guess it can work under the right conditions.
Are there any other ways to dispose of a horse’s remains properly?
The short answer is: no. Not if you ask me. I shouldn’t even mention some of the other things that people choose to do with their horses’ bodies after they’ve died. Taking them to landfills is one of them. These methods are disrespectful, unsafe, and potentially hazardous.
It’s unclean and unbefitting of a noble creature such as the horse to pass from this world in such a crude manner. If you care about your horse, go the extra mile and do the right thing when the time comes. Not only does the law compel you to do so, but it’s also the morally right thing to do.
How to cope with the loss of your horse.
People grieve differently, and not all of them need the same recovery time. The truth is that if you were really close to your horse, you’ll never forget about it. You could end up owning and caring for tens of horses throughout your lifetime, and you’ll probably remember each and every one of them.
There’s no clear and easy way to cope with loss, whether we’re talking about losing a person or an animal companion. They’re both “loved ones,” and they both mattered to you in a specific way.
What you can do is focus on the good times you had together. The problem with this is that so many things can fall through the cracks. The cracks in our memory, that is. The solution to this problem is simple: keep a journal. Keep a journal and write down some of the most important and pleasant experiences you’ve had with your horse.
Do this now before you forget most of them and your horse has already passed away. When the time comes, you’ll cherish that journal and the memories inside.
Another thing you can do is to keep your horse’s halter. The reason why you would like to keep the halter of all things is that these are usually made specifically for the horse. They’re personal in that way. Keep the halter, place it in a nice spot in your house and look at it whenever you want to remember your cherished equine friend. It helps, it truly does.
A word on horse insurance.
Should you insure your horse, and does having insurance help when it comes to dealing with a horse’s passing? If you do have the means to get insurance on your horse, I highly recommend that you do so. Being insured will help you navigate through the unpleasantries of dealing with your horse’s death, especially when it comes to finances.
However, you should also take note of what you’re insuring exactly. Some companies will even compensate you for the loss of your horse, but not all of them are willing to. If your horse was insured, you’ll want to “help out” the insurance company by taking a few simple steps once your horse has died.
- Take pictures of the horse’s body in order to identify the horse. Look for special markings, but also take note of any damage and injuries. This can help with figuring out the cause of death.
- Get your hands on some vet records, and perform any tests you deem necessary.
- The insurance adjuster will give you instructions on how to dispose of the horse’s body. Do not attempt to do this yourself right after the horse has died.
Depending on where you live and what laws you will need to follow, your options of dealing with your horse’s death might be rather limited. It’s always a good idea to be informed and to prepare for the worse both financially and emotionally.
This is especially true if your horse is ill or particularly old. Thank you for having the strength to read this article, and I do hope that it will help you when the time comes. If you have any further questions or would like me to add something to this article, don’t hesitate to get in touch!