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DYING WOMAN'S DEATHWISH FOR HORSE

Updated: May 10


Barbara Scott Collins and her horse Brady who was the be euthanised following her death
HORSING AROUND: Barbara and Brady celebrating Christmas three years ago

A woman’s dying wish to be buried with her horse – that was very much alive – has been turned down, leading to threats towards those who worked to save the animal.

Barbara Scott Collins, aged 70, died last month, just three weeks after a shock diagnosis of stage IV cancer.

Divorced with no kids, Barbara’s pride and joy was her horse called Brady and, according to reports, her express wish was to have him euthanised on her death so they could be buried together.

However, with no mention of Brady’s fate written in her will and with no concrete evidence to support the claim, animal rights campaigners along with friends of Barbara, contacted their local senator to save the horse’s life.

Beloved


With the vet booked to put Brady to sleep on the 26th of April, a last-minute reprieve was issued, but it was a decision that has since divided the small town of Sandwich, in Massachusetts with some residents volunteering to “finish the job” for Barbara.

According to Kathy Booth-Frasier, manager of Crescent Moon Farm where Brady had been stabled, Barbara didn’t want her beloved horse potentially passed around from owner to owner if she should die.

 "She was thinking in the best interest of the horse," said the farm manager.

However, Allie Hammond, Brady’s former owner, wasn’t convinced.

"I don't want to see him lose his life," she told the local news. "And I don't think Barbara would, either."

Brady the horse facing euthanasia after his owner passed away
FAMILY TIES: Allie once owned Brady who is pictured here with his sister, Saphy

That’s when Steven Xiarhos, the Republican representative for Cape Cod got involved – issuing a stay of execution.

"I think we can find someone, somewhere, that will, in a way, honour Barbara, and resolve this situation in a positive way," he said.

But while the politician’s intervention bought Brady an eleventh-hour reprieve, the backlash has been furious, with many of Barbara’s friends now afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals.

Speaking anonymously to MumsHaynet, one woman who was friends with Barbara for more than eight years, said: “Rumours started that there was a will and there was a directive in the will stating she wanted Brady put down, but then it transpired that there was no will.

“Then it was said that as she was dying, she expressed this wish, but no one has come forward to say it was expressed to them.

“I spoke to her a week before she passed and probably for the first time in our friendship we didn’t talk about horses. It was just about her.

“I believe she would have said something to me because she was an animal rights activist and she loved Brady.

“I also don’t think Barbara realised how little time she had left because she was talking about fighting her illness. Then I got a phone call from another friend saying Barbara had gone and they were going to put Brady down.

“I was both heartbroken and confused.”

Threats

As if dealing with Barbara’s death wasn’t hard enough, her friends were rocked by threats as they galvanised to find a retirement home for Brady.

“I was surprised by the hateful things that people have said,” revealed Barbara’s pal.

“I know we can all disagree on topics, but it was getting pretty rough out there. There were threats directed at me, saying they would find out where I live because they thought the horse was going to me.

“They were saying, ‘I don’t have a problem going there and taking him and doing what Barbara said she wanted.’

“Others spoke about horses being property, and as Barbara’s property, Brady needed to be put down. Other people believed he was disabled and sick and it was mean to keep him alive, but he isn’t disabled. He apparently has a stifle injury, but that’s no reason to euthanise him.”

 In the most recent statement issued by State Representative Steve Xiarhos, it was revealed that Brady had found “a beautiful forever home” where it was hoped the horse would “now live out his days in comfort and care.” 

“Brady's former owner died without a will, so the focus was on finding the best solution for his final years,” said the politician.

“We are grateful for the collaboration with a local veterinarian, the family, and a horse farm owner, who worked together to provide a safe and healthy forever home for Brady.”

Brady ridden by one of Barbara Scott Collins's pals
FRIENDS FOR LIFE: Brady ridden by one of Barbara's friends

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the passionate response to the story locally, the news received a mixed reaction with some applauding the decision while others remained appalled that a dying woman’s wishes for her injured horse had not been granted.

For Sarah Urwin, a counsellor/psychotherapist specialising in animal-assisted therapy in the UK, the intensity of feeling both from the public – and possibly from Barbara – is indicative of the strong bonds that humans can form with animals.

“Research indicates that being with animals promotes social interaction, increases emotional comfort, decreases loneliness and anxiety and provides a source of self-esteem and a sense of independence,” Sarah told MumsHaynet.

“So, it’s not surprising that animals often become strong attachment figures for humans.

“Of all the animals we humans are drawn to bond with, perhaps horses have the most powerful impact on us.

“Creatures of myth and legend, with their wild origins, they are big, beautiful, and powerful, offering us a link to wilderness and freedom, whilst at the same time being sensitive, responsive, willing and curious enough to allow themselves to work with and develop close partnerships with humans.

“They are direct and honest, meet us in the present moment and can’t lie because they don’t separate how they feel from how they act. 

“It is no wonder then that sometimes the exceptional bonds of trust that develop between horse and human cause us to make extremely protective decisions about their lives, out of fear and concern for their future welfare.”


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