On Friday afternoon, surrounded by friends who were there to comfort and say goodbye, Sasha was humanely euthanized. It is never easy to make the decision to let a horse go, but it is especially difficult when that decision is being made because we fear for the safety of the horse and for the people around her. But having spent the past six months evaluating Sasha, consulting with trainers and veterinarians, and carefully observing her behavior, we came to the conclusion that humane euthanization was the right decision, for Sasha’s safety and for the safety of anyone handling her.
Sasha was originally rescued by SAFE in March 2008 as part of the same animal cruelty case that brought Sinatra, Phoenix, and Summer into our care. She was three years old at the time of her rescue. She was adopted in November of that year, and her adopter put her into training to start her under saddle. But after more than four good years together, Sasha’s adopter contacted us, saying that she sadly could no longer afford to keep Sasha and asked us to take her back. We encouraged her to responsibly rehome her horse, and Sasha was offered for sale. In January of 2013, while being ridden in an arena, Sasha reared up and fell over backwards. Her rider fortunately escaped without injury, but Sasha herself was badly hurt and had to be hospitalized for a week due to complications from her fall. At that time, we advised her adopter to seriously consider humane euthanization, because a horse that shows willingness to rear and flip can be an extreme danger to herself and to anyone around her. Sasha’s adopter felt that the accident was just a fluke that would not be repeated. She continued her attempt to rehome her. SAFE eventually agreed to take Sasha back when those efforts were unsuccessful.
We knew that there was a possibility that her tendency to rear and flip would persist and that her outcome could be euthanasia, but we opted to carefully give her the opportunity to learn new behaviors. Unfortunately, on the day we brought her home, Sasha had an accident in the trailer. After hauling quietly most of the way to SHS, there was a clear disturbance in the trailer and the trailer window was knocked open. Sasha emerged from the trailer with an ugly laceration on her poll and a wound on her withers. It was pretty clear from the damage to the inside of the trailer and the damage to her head that Sasha had gone up and over.
We invested in medical care to treat her injuries, and started carefully working on training…both on the ground and under saddle. The two separate trainers who rode and evaluated Sasha both came back with the same report…that they could feel that at any given time, Sasha was ready and willing to go “up”. Rearing and threatening to rear was a coping mechanism for her anytime she was unhappy. Even more troubling was when Sasha began rearing while being handled by volunteers, even just when being led from turnout to her stall. It was utterly unpredictable behavior with no clear triggers that anyone could identify. Unfortunately it gave us serious doubts that Sasha could even be just a companion horse, if she was showing us signs that she could not even be handled safely on the ground.
Several days ago, a third flipping incident occurred. Sasha was being worked on the ground, and was simply asked to back up a few steps. She refused, and was asked again. This time, she reared up and flipped herself over. Even though she fell onto the soft sand footing of the arena, she managed to slice her lip open, requiring stitches inside and out to close the wound. We were extremely lucky that none of the people on the ground were injured. We were extremely lucky that Sasha wasn’t more severely injured. And we had reached the point where we could no longer rely on luck to keep everyone safe.
Sasha has demonstrated on multiple occasions, under multiple situations, that she lacks a sense of self preservation and is willing to endanger herself and others. We do not believe that Sasha is adoptable to any situation, even as a companion horse, as she is not safe to handle on the ground. We believe it was the right decision to humanely euthanize her to prevent her from injuring herself—possibly catastrophically—and those who handle her.
Rest in peace, Sasha.