I know this is a tough subject, but sometimes the Rainbow Bridge comes quickly and without warning. So, I wanted to get the gears turning just in case you find yourself (hopefully not…) needing a service like this.
EQUINE BURIAL AND CREMATION
I stumbled upon an ad today for Equine Cremation. Wha? I had never thought about that. In my mind, there were only three options and none of them were particularly palatable…
–Home burial (if you have the equipment and if it is legal on your property)
–Necropsy and …disposal (awful term, I know)
–Rendering (Oy, the idea of that truck rumbling up the driveway and yanking at my loved one is just gut wrenching.)
But today, I found several more options that involve cremation and burial… And I wanted to tell you about them. I know it is a rather sad topic, but to me, it is important to think ahead about this. Having lost a horse recently, the last thing you want to be thinking about is how to bury your friend. It is an awful, hectic time and I think it is best to know your options before the time comes.
I never knew that there are services out there which:
–remove the body tastefully – other than the rendering truck…
–Urns/Boxes for equine cremains
–Artifacts and Keepsakes
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The first thing to do is locate a service in your area. It is important to understand what services each facility provides. So I’ll help you with the questions to ask.
You want to find a local service because they do charge to pick up your friend. Most will pick up from a veterinarian or an equine hospital, a boarding facility or your home. But, you want to figure out the pick up restrictions (gate size, area from truck to horse, strategic details…). Also, you want to know how much they charge if you are out of their area.
Most all services will come out at any hour and offer 24 hour phone contact. They know these things don’t happen at opportune times. Most suggest that they are “gentle” or “respectful” but I would ask for a recommendation before I hired anyone to do such a delicate service.
And, although this is a gruesome thought, many of them will not take a body that has started to decay, so make sure you have this figured out beforehand, if you can.
I googled ‘equine cremation’ in my area. I found one nearby. Shocked. I’ve never, ever even thought about it. Lo and Behold, there is a service nearby.
So, google (or click here for help in finding a source in your area) and learn what services are in your area. I never want to see a rendering truck in my driveway – and hopefully it will never be necessary.
I found out that most equine cremations are done in a small cat/dog furnace. So, you want to ask this difficult question…
“Can you cremate the whole horse?”
Some equine crematoriums tout that they have the ability to cremate an entire horse. Obviously, this is an important question to ask.
Also, many places will cremate after a necropsy. If I had known about this after Aladdin passed, I probably would have had his remains cremated and buried here.
Some facilities offer the option of allowing the owner to watch the cremation. They do this because notoriously, crematoriums are not always trustworthy to cremate your pet and/or give you the ashes of your own pet – if you know what I mean. So reputable crematoriums offer this service.
But, it is less expensive to cremate in a group. So, if a group cremation is the best option for you financially, some facilities offer this option.
Any crematorium or burial facility should be an upstanding member in a few groups. If you find a crematorium in your area, ask if they are members of any associations. For example:
–International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories (website link here)
–Pet Loss Professional Alliance (website link here)
Make sure they are fully licensed to cremate animals and that they abide by the burial/cremation laws of your county.
BURIAL AND PET CEMETERIES
Some cremations facilities offer burial as well. Here again, make sure how they bury. I found several places that were like a human cemetery where you could pick the plot and decide if you wanted the cremains to be buried or the entire animal (or not the entire animal – be careful here).
A few places offered above ground crypts. Once facility suggested planting a fruit tree on you equine’s grave site. I liked that one.
I was most impressed with the pet cemeteries that looked like parks. To me, these types of cemetaries felt just like what you would think a horse would think was heavenly.
HOWEVER, a very important point to ponder when contemplating a pet cemetery is whether it will be there in 10 years… I mean, do they have a trust or some sort of legal paperwork that states your pet won’t be dug up for condos in a few years? Several pet cemeteries do have those future plans well documented.
BOXES VS CASKETS
I didn’t see any caskets for horses. I am assuming that a horse is buried without a casket. But, they had many, many different types of cremains boxes. (I had never heard the word “cremains” before today…)
I did find one huge cremains box that was stated to house a whole horse. This made me question all the other cremains boxes… None of the other boxes suggested that it wouldn’t contain the entire horse, but I’m thinking that maybe they don’t… Anyway, another good question to ask.
The designs were numerous. Most had either a horse shoe (could be your horse’s shoes) or a photo in the front. Some had etched likenesses, some had special adornments.
I’m guessing that the smaller boxes were for you to take home and put in a special place and the larger boxes were for burial or whatever you’d like.
I saw many, many keepsake items. You can have your horse’s name engraved on just about anything. Of course, you could also have a bracelet or necklace (anklet… anything…) created from his/her hair.
BUT, there were a few amulet-type of pendants. One in particular held some ashes of your pal. I wasn’t sure if this was like Angelina keeping a vial of Billy Bob’s blood around her neck – or if this was cool. I’m still on the fence about that. I think if I had Aladdin’s ashes, they’d live somewhere sacred but I’m not sure I’d carry him around with me. I think he’d be bored or kinda weirded out by that – but of course, I could never be sure… maybe he’d like it. Dunno.
OK, this was very odd to me but also cryptically interesting. Did you know that crystals can be made from your pet’s cremains? I didn’t either. So, if you have a horse, they can take a bit of the ashes and make a crystal pendant or ring. The colors depend upon the elements in your animal’s cremains. Hmmmmm. So, you don’t know what color you will end up with until the crystal is created. I thought that was interesting. At least it is personal. Here is a link to a page with some details about the Crystal Companions.
Well, this concept was totally new to me. I had never heard of this. In fact, I had to go to Wikipedia to see if it was legal.
Did you know that since bodies are carbon, diamonds could be made out of cremains? I didn’t either. These diamonds are called, Life Gems (linked here). A few men started this company in 2003 in Illinois. Hmmmm. The diamonds aren’t cheap… $4000 for up to .25 carats and it goes up to $19,000 for a carat.
Only you can decide if a diamond of your hubby, dog, cat or horse would make you feel better about their passing. Very personal.
The color choices are yellow, blue, white (clear), red or green. You can decide what cut you’d like. And, they all come with a certificate of authenticity as well as a gemology grade with cut, clarity, carat and color provided – just like a diamond you would purchase.
Did you know that Life Gems created three diamonds from locks of Beethoven’s hair? One gem was sold on Ebay in 2008 for $202,700. The proceeds went to charity.
I hope you remember that the information is here and can look it up quickly.
When I was losing Aladdin, I turned to my vets. They told me what they thought was the best idea for him and we decided to donate his body to the state so that they could perform a necropsy and try to determine what ravaged him. But, I never knew I had the option of taking his remains to be cremated and buried here at his home. I’m not sure if my vets knew about cremation either.
I wish I had this information then. Which is why I’m telling you now…
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
JANUARY DROP IN THE BUCKET FUND: THE PAIUTE ORPHAN FOALS
To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate the the ‘Saved from Slaughter Orphan Foals’, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)
Just to update. Atim Creek Pet Crematory has installed a new furnace capable of 2200lb. Hope you don’t need the service – but if you do, we are honored to help. http://www.petcrem.net
What do you mean by they wouldnt cremate the entire animal? Like what part and what happens to the rest?
Companion animal cremation service from 1-1400lb. Edmonton Alberta. Hope you don’t need my services , but if you or any of your readers do? Atim Creek Pet Crematory Ltd.
Im sorry over the loss of Aladdin. Thank you for adding a positive article on this topic. It is a disgrace that large animal vets do not have the compassion of small animal vets when it comes to the disposal of our horses. Majority provide owners with contact information for rendering or composting & do everything they can to dissuade burial and/or cremation.
Why are owners not first and foremost provided with the name of cemeteries that accept horses? Cremation options? I realize they are the most expensive, but horses are expensive! Can you imagine if a small animal vet offered rendering, composting or a landfill as first options for their clients??? OMG! The outrage! Horse owners are also small animal owners, but they are conditioned to accept these less than palatable options because they are told there is nothing else & they believe their vet.
I think it is time horse owners start expecting more from their vets when it comes to the disposal of their horses’s remains.
The pro slaughter faction is so rabidly pro slaughter that they do NOT want any viable options other than disposal via slaughter. They are afraid that if other viable options are available it will increase the chance that slaughter could become illegal AND they would LOSE one of their strongest arguments to keeping slaughter legal. If you listen to them you will end up believing that the only way to dispose of a living creature is to have it consumed by another living creature. Makes you wonder about their position on disposal methods of human bodies. I guess human burial since we are above animals somehow our bodies don’t contaminate the ground – read up on Green Burial- & the cremation of human remains doesn’t contaminate the environment, but cremation of horses does. All the trash that goes in a landfill is of no concern, unless of course it is a dead horse, then look out the world is coming to an end.
What is amazing, is people believe this propaganda, including people like vets who have advanced college degrees.
Pro slaughter advocates so want to protect slaughter, that the option you chose for Aladdin, when offered as a low cost option to owners & an excellent opportunity to learn more about equine health, that “we wouldn’t want to use up their budget on that” unbelievable!!! Horse owners pay state sales tax on everything we buy for our horses, yet we are not entitled to services provided by the state at a discounted rate???
There is a need for horse disposal options that are similar to those provided for dogs and cats, or any animal that we love, no matter what it’s size. Hopefully entrepreneurs will see the need & develop the resources to meet the need.
Again my condolences for your loss of Aladdin. Fifteen years after losingy first horse, a horse u owned for over 25 years, I still find it difficult.
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When my first horse passed away after a freak pasture accident, I was completely unprepared. Fortunately, my trainer was not only able to give me great advice, but arranged for my horse to be buried in peaceful spot on the property.
I don’t think the death of a beloved companion is something horse owners ever want to think about, so we don’t. As sad and depressing as it can be, you are absolutely right. It’s better to have a plan then be rushed into making a decision that you might regret later once you can think more clearly. Thanks for doing the research and enlightening me about the many options that horse owners have.
I also have bracelets and fobs from Tally’s tail hair — in fact, I had them made for several other people who loved him, as I had sufficient advance notice to clip all I wanted from his luxuriant Morgan tail…
It was such an awful time, but it would have been worse if I’d had to scramble around not knowing what to do with him afterwards. But as I live in eastern Massachusetts, I could use the services of Angel View (where a beloved dog and dear cat also are buried). They were so kind and nice. I do recommend them. They have a variety of options depending on what you can spend. And they are members of the IAOPCC.
Thanks for writing about this topic. It is good to be prepared, and I think many people will make better decisions if they are not under the pressures of time and grief.
Our Sweetheart is buried here. But, I’m having a bracelet made from some of her tail hair. I also have a lock of her mane in my keepsake box. Hopefully, all our equines can be buried here.