(Sad) You have 1 shot to kill a horse DRT What rifle and load.


Special Hen
Mar 25, 2020
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I worked at a meat processing plant for a short time. Plus, we raise hogs and sheep, and process them ourselves. I’ve killed my share of farm critters.

The .22lr works but must be point blank range and you must know exactly where the brain sits in the skull of the different animals.

I usually don’t get emotional about it, but a bad shot and suffering animal will turn your stomach. It’s not pretty… I usually go for a 9mm or .38 special when dispatching hogs. I like the extra thump over the .22lr

If I had to shoot a large animal like a horse and it was not tame and I could not get a point blank shot, I’m going .30 cal rifle for sure

Not just a bad shot, but ANY way you try to do the deed that doesn't go well. My dad had me kill my first rabbit at 5 years old. I wasn't strong enough to pop it's neck the traditional way and he let me (and that rabbit) struggle horribly before he stepped in and said "Now that you've been a show-off let me show you the right way to do it." I still get a knot in my stomach when it's time to harvest ... But if I am not SURE beyond a doubt I can't get it done quick with my first try, I'll let someone else do the honors.

@swampratt sorry you got tapped. Sucky "job" but you did the right thing. Just because something is right doesn't mean it's gonna be easy. I hate having to do it but it seems to me that it is my obligation to my pet to make sure he/she doesn't suffer when the time comes. Seems like the least I can do ...


Jun 26, 2023
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I would use any controlled expansion bullet caliber with a diameter of 6.5 or greater and a bullet no less than 120 gr with 1000 foot pounds of energy or more at the range I would shoot it just like an elk. I would think the 1000 foot pounds of energy rule would apply here as it does for elk.


Supporting Member
Special Hen Supporter
Mar 18, 2019
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Calumet, Oklahoma 73014
Ok so I was called to shoot an old horse that you could not get near and all I knew is it was needing put down and the vet would only do it if it was roped and in a corral.

That was impossible with this horse.
So I was thinking what rifle as it could be 20 yards or 150 yards.
I found out in my mind what rifle and load as I wanted ZERO suffering and the target would be the brain.

I had no idea how hard the skull was and if a side shot or head on shot was going to be presented.
I do love my 55 v max .223 but I have skidded a 30-30 round up a deer forehead and the bullet took the top of the skull off.

I do not need any skidding and so i thought heavier bullet would be less prone to change directions and go on and enter the head.
Now I chose my .308 18" heavy barrel savage and the load is a very good one for killing critters.
4064 powder and Lapua neck turned case along with 165 Game King HP boat tail.

That bullet has never let me down all 1 shot kills DRT.

I did get a side shot 70 yards and it died on the spot. Fell like a sack of bricks.
Hate that I had to shoot a horse but the owners were very happy it went quick.
I chambered another round and got to the horse quick just to make darn sure it did not need another one.
No need for another.
Told the horse it is in a better place now.

I deer and hog hunt with the mindset of 1 shot kill but I have killed many of them and know what it takes.

What would you choose in your possession when you have just 1 shot?
12 gauge slug

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