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It’s happened to most of us at some point in our lives: that day when we are forced to make a decision to put one of our best companions to rest. Whether it be to ease their suffering, or due to human or equine safety issues, the decision is never easy. But once they are at peace, another problem arises – what to do with their remains. Horses are large creatures and handling their bodies after death can be quite difficult. Since this is often an emotional decision, it helps to know your options long before that time comes.

One of the primary methods of dealing with remains is to offer a standard burial. One of the problems with this is that not everyone has the available land on which to dig a grave. Also, it requires large pieces of equipment (ie a backhoe) in order to dig the hole, and these are not always readily available. We also have to deal with the presence of underground cables and lines. A hole of that size should never be dug without contacting your local utility company. (This can be done in Connecticut by going to Also, zoning regulations may prevent you from being legally able to bury on your property. Oftentimes, we use an injectable barbiturate to euthanize animals. This drug can easily be leeched into the water table (or your well!) and affect other species. While it is not illegal to bury your horse on your property in CT, be sure to contact your town zoning board to make sure you can do it in your town. Rhode Island allows you to bury, but only on a case by case basis. For more information on Rhode Island disposal regulations, click here. To access disposal laws for various states, link to this map at the Cornell Waste Management Institute and select your state.

But what happens if you can’t bury on your property? How are you going to handle the remains? There are a couple of other options available.

The Connecticut Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, a part of the University of Connecticut, offers necropsy through their pathology department. While it can be difficult to consider this, the learning that can be gained from cases is immense. This is especially true in cases where we may not find an answer. There can be some difficulty in getting the carcass to the college, however trailering options are available. This includes using CT Horse Cremation (see below). Currently, they charge $400 for an equine necropsy, plus a $100 disposal fee. The reason for this low cost is to generate cases for the students at UConn to learn from. While a necropsy may not be totally necessary, it does help students so that they may help more horses in the future. Disposal only options are available, but do cost more.

In some instances, we want to keep the remains as a remembrance of the memories shared. Cremating a horse is a difficult task and requires specialized facilities. Recently, Connecticut Horse Cremation, LLC opened in Durham, CT. They offer to pick up the remains at any time of day using specialized equipment to gently and respectfully move the body. They transport the remains to their facility, where they perform intact private cremation. They then personally return the ashes to you. This service is bundled into one price and you can even establish a pre-payment plan. While this tends to be the most expensive option, it allows you to keep your horse’s remains when burial is not possible or feasible.

While this is a very unpleasant subject, it is important to have a plan in place. Disposing of horse remains can be quite costly and can often come as an added shock in times of emergency. Trying to make these decisions during an emotional time can make the situation even more difficult, so be sure to have this discussion with yourself sooner rather than later.

For more information you can download this brochure from the Connecticut Horse Council which outlines a variety of disposal options.