This is for when we know there is no cure for an ailment, and we decided that we are no longer going to try and solve it. Our focus changes from “curing” to providing comfort in living, however long that will be until death comes on its own time frame. Witnessing the day to day changes in the body of the horse in hospice can be challenging. It’s easy to fall back into wanting to fix it, even when you know it can’t be fixed.
Here are my top 10 tips for providing comfort care for horses in hospice.
1. Provide food, water, shelter, and let the horse decide if and when they want it.
2. Say hello. Touch base. Love them. When it’s time for you to go, it’s ok to leave. When you leave, tell them when you are coming back.
3. Is there anything I can do to support the horse? Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t. (You could give a pain medication if it’s relevant, or not).
4. You can stop taking vital signs. They are data, but you aren’t going to do anything with them. You can take them for your own knowledge, but if it’s stressful for you to know this data, do not take the vital signs.
5. Are they pooping and peeing? This again is data.
6. Flower essences can be a wonderful compliment. My favorite Bach Flower Essence for hospice is Olive for energy.
7. Thank their body for continuing to do its job housing their spirit.
8. Keep things simple. Herbs, flower essences, body work, etc can all be wonderful compliments, and there can be many choices. Sometimes too much choice can be too much. Find what resonates with your horse and stick with that.
9. Is there something your animal likes? A favorite food or treat? Where do they like to be itched?
10. Do not underestimate the power of your presence. You are enough.