When It’s Time

Photo © Heather N. Photography


I have been around horses my entire life. When I mean entire, I mean sitting in front of my grandfather on the saddle at 6 months and screaming my head off when they tried to take me down off the horse. I have been taking care of ponies and horses as long as I can remember. Each horse has a personality, a skill, or some other attribute, and I enjoy learning about each one.  

With the deep, deep joy of horses, comes the equally deep and even more difficult decision to euthanize a horse. No giving it a euphemism, such as “putting down,” because it is unpleasant. No, this action needs to be done with a clear and concise decision.

I was 12 when I was present for the first time. We lived on a working farm and had over 100 head of cattle, plus our horses. Sometimes the circle of life is difficult to see in real time. I understood, the best a pre-teen could, what had to happen. It wasn’t even a choice; it was required. Did I cry? You betcha. We all did.  

We spend our lives taking care of animals, putting their needs in front of ours. You thirsty after riding?  Tough, take care of your horse first. You don’t want to go out in the cold? Not an option because the animals need to be fed. They count on me, and I’m not letting them down. Never have, never will.

Now, here I am 48 years later, and the decision has been made for one of our horses. He’s been on the farm so long, we have no clue how old he is. Somewhere north of 35, but he won’t make it through the winter because of some current health issues.  

It’s time.

Photo © Lauren Mauldin

The special ones are the hardest. Several of my family members just can’t be there for it. I don’t begrudge them their own feelings. We each have to handle death in our own way. They want to remember him in the best way possible.  

It will be my honor to be with him. My honor to hold him. My honor to have spent time with him. And no matter how many times I have to do this, it will be my honor to be there for them, because they were there for me.

For me, I want to be right there in front of him. I want him looking in my eyes. I want him to know he isn’t alone and I’m right there. I will talk to him like I have every day for these past decades so he hears my voice. I will not leave him until his soul has gone on.  

And then, I’ll cry.

Pam Saul is a Certified Bookkeeper (CB) and the founder of Farm & Equine Business Services (F&EBS) and Saul Bookkeeping, residing in the Agricultural Reserve in Montgomery County Maryland on her family’s 200-acre Rolling Acres Farm. Hailing from a longtime ‘horse family’, Pam is part of the family-run team behind Rolling Acres Show Stables; her sisters, Patty Foster and Mary Lisa Leffler are two of the top Trainer/Rider combinations and her parents, Samuel & Janice Nicholson have run Rolling Acres Farm for over 46 years.  Pam’s background led her to start her own bookkeeping business having first-hand knowledge of how challenging it is to keep finances for the equestrian business.