Quality over Quantity

Quality over Quantity
I was talking to a friend about some of the horses we have at the rescue and some of the difficult choices we make for them. We are in a constant battle between quantity and quality of life.

We spend our lives studying and practicing to become the perfect positive trainers so we can best help our horses enjoy their domestic lives. Yet, often training is the last thing on our priority list. With some horses, just having a good day, where they got outside, interacted with their friends, and ate all their meals – this is the extent of their life goals. Not every horse has competitive aspirations or athletic drives.

We have had many older or sickly horses who we are constantly playing the balancing act between the quantity and quality of their time remaining. In one case, we had a mostly toothless, foundered, just broken old mini. She was pretty pathetic, pretty miserable, didn’t like kids, didn’t like much of anything really. But she liked trying to eat some grass. While we knew that letting her eat grass put her at risk for further problems related to founder and potentially ending her life – it was the one joy she had left in her life. So we let her have it. Why watch her suffer for extra long, than just have what she wants, even if it risks a shorter time left. It ended up that she swallowed her own lost tooth and passed away from choking on that – nothing to do with the grass, she never foundered again, so letting her have her one last joy didn’t end up hurting her.

We also have Gummy Bear, when he arrived at our farm the vets gave him a month to live, before his advanced DSLD would become too painful for him to survive. So despite his growingly terrible behavior we’ve never bothered training him!! He learned about clicker training, he plays football with his favorite volunteers, and loves these games – but we never used it for anything practical, like walking beside us nicely on lead  Because we keep thinking “he’s not going to be here long, so just spoil him rotten”… well now he’s rotten!! Haha!! I say this with all the most love for his sweet face! It’s been nearly 2 years, and if he has one day or 1 year left with us, I want every minute to just be wonderful. The only stress he will have is when the vets and farriers come to work their magic, and we will stuff his face with goodies to distract him from it.

We have to recognize what is RIGHT, what is best for our horse, balancing between their happiness and their health. Often the two needs clash. But when I think about my own mortality, I know I need to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and monitor my health with professionals. But I’m not going to cause myself to suffer with extreme diet or exercise or obsess about my health – limiting my quality of life. Being miserable to extend your time being miserable, doesn’t actually help anyone. But of course we need to be responsible.

We need to find this same balance with our animals. How much are we compromising their well-being, by focusing only on their health or their happiness – not a good balance of both.