Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The backstory...

I just got permission to share a little bit of the backstory behind the post on euthanizing animals

I was contacted by a friend who owned a horse who needed to to be "put-down".

I agreed to assist and called the horse-owner's foreman.
I generally carry a Ruger .45 revolver with a snake load in chamber one, the foreman carries the same setup in .44 mag due to the high population of venomous snakes in my area-of-operation.

The foreman advised me he only had a compact 9mm today and could I bring a suitable tool. I chose a .41 mag with 210 grain solids.

The following will clearly show poor decisions and how suddenly life can change.

I arrived to find an older 1800 pound draft horse lying in the stall, (16'x24'). 
The stall was on the southwest corner of the barn near an exit, the horse was lying in the s/w corner of the stall and his head facing north, feet facing east. 
The foreman and helper had removed the 2, 12' long panels on the east side of stall and had positioned a tow strap to drag him away from barn wall to prevent damage to structure.

I was told "he cannot get up" and that he weighed 1800 pounds. I was worried the use of a center pole as a fulcrum point might cause more damage to the structure. The owner was not present 

I have been around cattle off-and-on my whole life, never horses. I have shot numerous deer, small mammals, and put down dogs.

I moved to the north side of the stall patting the horse on his head and talking to him.

I removed my weapon, stepped back one step, resquatted and placed the bullet through the skull from his ear towards nose.

The two men were standing at the east side of the stall where the panels had been removed but out of the line of fire.

The horse immediately tried to stand then brought his head back down. I had stood and was moving backwards when his skull violently connected with my left foot.

I was wearing steel toed work boots.

The impact  while moving backwards knocked me on my ass. He continued to struggle as I spun around to run, my left foot did not hold my weight and I fell forward, crawling away.

I stood and limped to a position between the two men and was focused on my pain.

( I have been in fights, attacked, and prepared for attack but this situation and pain caught me totally off guard.)

I looked up to see the horse standing looking at me from 12", head facing north, barn door to the south. I fired a second round through his lungs, (and bullet exited the barn through west wall.)

He still stayed on his feet, the foreman to my right then pulled his 9mm and fired 2 rounds at his head.

The horse dropped and I proceeded to find a safer spot to evaluate my injury.
I removed my boot with some difficulty and drove myself to ER.
During the 5 hours there I studied my very poor performance 

  • Never presume an animal will die peacefully.
  • Never remove a stall panel exposing you to grave danger.
  • Never be that close to that size animal at that time.
  • The steel toed boots kept my foot from being crushed only bruising the top.
  • Another 3" inches would have shattered my ankle, several inches more would have broken my neck (because I was squatting)

Joe comments: It is also pretty easy to look on the internet to see where the vitals are for any particular species...if you have ANY inkling things might get too interesting. Don't assume the are in the same place for every species.

For example, the heart-lungs of many African species are lower (relatively speaking) than North American species because many African species have humped backs...perhaps to radiate heat. Long-haired species like bears and musk-ox have vitals that are relatively higher because the hair hangs down and biases their silhouette lower than their actual body.

Always have an escape plan.

Distance is your friend.

Don't trust verbal information. The "experts" said the horse could not get up. They were wrong.

A tip of the hat to my friend who wishes to remain anonymous.


  1. My Aunt knew someone (They are all horse people) who had to have an old horse put down but wanted to go the way of humane lethal injection. So instead of a quick and cheap bullet from my cousin, the vet came out to do the deed. Then she was going to just drag it off to the far side of the quarter to feed the vermin and coyotes, but "No, the injection solution is now considered a toxic chemical and poison the local critters too". So, the costs climbed now to include a visit from the rendering truck (Knackers for you Brits). As opposed to a 45-cent cartridge. So, there you go.

  2. Rendering horses euthanized with pentobarbital-based euthanasia solution went off the table back in the 1990s, as concerns grew about Fido getting barbiturates in the 'animal protein digest' component of his dog food, regardless of dilution factor... necessitating burying or incinerating any euthanized by 'lethal injection'.

  3. Don't use a pistol for a job better suited to a rifle.

  4. I'm possibly going to help out with a larger critter soon. Timely information. Thank you. Very very much.

  5. Even with a lot of experience, such as at a slaughter house, large animals will surprise you. We had always used a Colt woodsman .22 to kill cows, and limit the amount of brain damage. Some people at the time, pre brain wasting disease, liked to eat the brains. The animals always dropped like sack of spuds...until one didn't stay down after dropping. This steer was built like a greyhound, probably weighed 2500 pounds and after being shot, dropping dead like, and was rolled out of chute on the floor for processing. It promptly got up and ran around the facility until it finally realized it was dead. An exciting time was had by all. Oh and it had managed to find the only cranny in the building to ram into and die, we had to winch it out. That was the only one out of thousands.

  6. just back from long trip to catch up and read this. my $00.000.02 offering is you have to realize the skull, critter or human, is a closed vessel. first bullet hopefully will do the job. second bullet and you'll receive a wonderful lesson proving hydraulics theory works perfectly in practice. back in my shurfin' days had to put car-struck deer down, it was moving and had to take that second shot. didn't notice the shoes and pants till I got home, and wow, that was a conversation with Home Management that night.


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