Saturday, April 29, 2017

Tanka and his symptoms

What happened to Tanka?

Well, I do have a theory.

Guttural pouch infection.

Possibly caused by strangles, possibly the fungal kind.

When I first got Tanka I kept him away from my other horses for quite some time because he had a bit of a nasal discharge.

I took his temperature but it was normal.

Had my concerns but they were minor.

I was concerned enough to buy him a blanket but then didn't need to use it.

He did cough once in awhile but that cleared up and it was very occasional to begin with.

He also had a funny snort.  Everyone said it was a fairly normal snort but I didn't believe that.  I thought it was an odd snort and I was keeping an eye on that.

Called the vet about the nasal discharge once but she said it was probably allergies and that it was common when it is so cold out.  Mentioned the snort!  Mentioned my worries and fears of strangles but his temp was normal so she didn't think it could be that.  She said she didn't think she needed to come out to see him.

Strangles has been going around in Nevada but it is said that it will often clear up on its own and there was no clear indications that he had strangles.

Tanka certainly looked healthy with a beautiful shiny coat.  We did worm him.  He ate well and drank plenty of water and seemed to poop fine.  He kicked up his heels and played.

So, here it is 6 months later, I have worked through numerous behavioral issues and Tanka is a much improved horse.

We got him successfully saddled a few times and he wore the saddle pad a few times but Tanka got absolutely explosive when we cinched the saddle up.  Since Tanka has always been a worried horse, we thought he was green and would get over it.

I had him successfully saddled one day.  I was so proud of him.

He didn't look real happy.  I worked with him on being okay with the saddle and the blanket.  I used a bareback pad that cinches a number of times.

Then, we tried the saddle again a couple weeks later.  I asked him to walk around the pen.  Suddenly, he absolutely exploded.  He was in a blind panic!  I dove out of the pen.  The trainer and Hubby said that I was being over worried which I do tend to worry.  And it is quite true that green horses can buck.

I really thought "Wow, that was truly a blind panic."  I know horses can buck when they first get saddled but "Wow" is what I kept saying.  

I did pull up my big girl panties and I asked the horse to move around the round  pen since we thought he would just have to get used to the saddle.  I successfully got the horse tied up and unsaddled.

We naturally said it was due to his being a green horse.

A few days ago we saddled him, tightened the cinch and then Tanka exploded again.  He finally calmed down a bit, was willing to hold still but was still trembling.  I got next to him, loosened the cinch strap and he settled a bit more.  I pulled the saddle off with no problem.

Once again, we chalked it up to his being a green horse.  I was willing to try again although I was getting really scared of cinching him up.

I did notice that his back feet were moving up and down when the cinch was tightening on a couple of occasions.  Uncle Cal says that means he had colic.  In one or two articles on the internet, colic was mentioned as a sign of guttural pouch disease.

Now, Tanka was eating, drinking, pooping just fine so .... and the word colic can mean so many things.  I don't think Tanka actually had colic.  I think he had some sort of pain but not stomach or intestinal problems.  With strangles, there are a lot of secondary things that can happen but are pretty rare like internally swollen lymph nodes.  Just something to know.

Naturally, we thought that he was unhappy about the cinch because he didn't like having something around his belly.  I worked on that by putting a rope around his belly, rubbing and scratching his belly, using a bareback saddle pad.  All of that went okay and then trying the saddle again.

Then the incident yesterday where he pulled back hard while I was cinching him.  We didn't even get the saddle cinched up tight.  I said "There's nothing we can do about that now." As I climbed out the pen so I wouldn't get hurt.

Tanka rushed  across the pen, dropped his head and started gushing blood from his nose and mouth.  We stood there stunned.  I said, "This is not going to end well."  We called a vet.  The trainer managed to get the saddle off Tanka.  He bled and bled.  He finally went down and I thought he was dying.  Just before the vet got there, Tanka stood up.  I don't know how he had the strength to do that.

The vet said he could give him some shots and see what happens. To look at his lungs would need x-rays.  It could be done but would run into thousands of dollars. I told him that I didn't see how Tanka could survive this and that he was too dangerous to try to ride him at this point even if he did somehow manage to survive.  We certainly couldn't trailer up to the college between his weakness, his fear of people and the expense.

The vet thought putting him down was really the best option.  Even with shots of antibiotics and such, I would just find him in a pool of blood tomorrow morning having not survived the night.

I hope everyone reading this can realize that over the last 6 months there have been little things that didn't add up to a diagnosis.  I have a very experienced horsewoman helping me.  I called a vet.  I loved this horse and observed him carefully.

Tanka had behavioral problems but we worked together to develop trust and he had improved so much.  I could be above him.  I could safely lead him.  I could touch him with the dreaded bag on whip.  He was desensitized and cooperative with coats, hats, blankets, a giant Easter bunny.

Moving objects became no problem.  I had stuff hanging up high and he got over it.  Flags and bags flapping in the wind became no issue.   He pushed or kicked the big ball on command.  He even was getting more accepting of people.  He would take treats from people.

I worked with him to not be afraid of people and dogs walking on the street, in the neighbor's yard, around our yard.  I set up scarecrows and did creative things so he could see "people" in the yard.

I worked with him to stop spooking at the shrubbery and the wind moving leaves and branches.  I could walk him in the wind safely thanks to Carson James Rhodenizer and his training techniques.

He was always a bit of an odd duck but he was my duck and he trusted me so much.  When he first got to my place, the trainer and I commented on his sound mind.  He could learn and he did learn. We theorized that he had spent much of his time alone on five acres in the desert but he seemed to be overcoming so much.

Tanka had 6 months of love and the best grass hay and clean water every day.  He had a nice pen and a good shelter.  He had a person and he liked having a person.  He was a one woman horse and did not trust others but he was trying to overcome that because I asked him to.

I worked with that horse in the dead of winter, in the sun, the wind and the rain [okay, it was a few sprinkles].

In the end, what I believe is most probable is:  Tanka got an infection in his guttural pouch.  The guttural pouch infection isn't super common.  Quite possibly due to strangles.  Strangles can, in rare cases, cause internal problems, intermittent colic-like symptoms, a small amount of nasal discharge.  Not necessarily obvious symptoms.  The infection ate into his carotid artery which runs along the pouch.  The artery finally burst causing huge amounts of blood to gush from his nose and mouth.

I miss him nickering when I come around the corner.  I miss him looking in the window from his pen so see if I am coming out to feed him in the morning.  I miss having that purpose to go out there and enjoy working with him.  He was young at four years old and he enjoyed his life here.

I will always remember how hard he tried for me.  How much he wanted to please me.  How he seemed to like having a person.

I loved that horse.

PS-The universe just loans us our critters.  He has gone home.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Tanka Time for the Last Time

Tanka Time for the Last Time.
It is with great sadness that I let you know my handsome Tanka has passed away today from an unusual condition. Something ruptured and he bled from his nose and mouth.
The vet came out and he was put down.
Tanka tried hard for me and did his best. I will love my handsome horse forever. I do not regret having saved him from a terrible fate in Mexico, I feel that he considered himself loved and was content as my horse.
For all of you that followed Tanka's story, I thank you for your thoughtful comments and the enjoyment you got from reading of his progress.
RIP my dear friend, may you run in green fields forever. You gave me 6 special months. You will be remembered always.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tanka throws a fit

Tanka time
Well, it was the good, the bad and the ugly today. Everything was going along pretty good until it wasn't :)
I had Tanka meet the neighbor. Then a new neighbor came by. Had Tanka meet him. I thought Tanka did pretty good considering how he feels about new people. He came up to the rail but wouldn't let the guy touch him. That is still an improvement that he walked right over.
I showed the new neighbor how Tanka could do a number of things like back, turn fore, turn hind, pick up his feet.
My trainer and I worked on getting the back belly strap on the saddle. We got that done and decided why not put the saddle on Tanka.
I thought it was going reasonably smoothly. I had the front strap buckled when Tanka seemed to notice the belly band looked or felt different. Tanka all of a sudden sat back and started thrashing around. The trainer kept a hold on the lead rope which was wrapped around the new sturdy post I had just put in.
I moved to get out of the way of Tanka.
I told him he was being a fool and needed to settle down. Trainer said don't talk to him. Okay by me. I moved the saddle rack out of the pen while Tanka kept throwing a fit.
He finally calmed down. I approached him and let him stop snorting and fussing. Trainer said just act like nothing ever happened. I told her not yet, let him have another minute or two.
I then got in there like nothing ever happened. Told him how brave and handsome he was. Rubbed his shoulder and got a hold of the saddle strap. Loosened it and let him settle again. Went ahead and lifted the saddle off with no problem and set it to one side on the rail where Tanka could see it.
We left him tied out there so that getting the saddle off wasn't all that fun!
Let him off the halter later and gave him some hay and water.
This evening, I went out, took the saddle rack and saddle and pad into the pen. I let Tanka sniff it all over. I moved the saddle to the mounting block. Let him sniff it all over again. Carried the saddle around with me while he was on the lead following me. Sat in the saddle on the mounting block for some quiet time on the lead and he sniffed the saddle again.
I desensitized using an old sheet and an old crinkly sounding coat. Let the items go below him and asked him to walk with the items "following" him by holding them next to him.
I picked up the saddle and had him walk with me and the saddle on both sides. Then, walked him out of the pen, set the saddle down on our way by the shed and took him to his home pen.
I felt like we really did end on a good and trusting note today. He had a soft eye and came over to me easily.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Tanka and the saddle pad

I got the saddle pad on Tanka this afternoon.  Left him alone in the round pen wearing it while I got a few things done around here.

One of the neighbors came by and Tanka thought it was okay that we sat next to the pen and talked.  Tanka also sniffed her shoes.

I got in thepen with Tanka and had him walk/trot/lope, turn, walk/trot/lope.

We did great on one side and not on the other.  Turns out the bareback saddle pad had slipped to one side.  Tanka looked very nervous about that.

I went ahead and got a halter one him since he was thinking about turning and bolting.  I pet him and then rubbed towards the saddle pad watching to release the pressure as soon as I saw a change.  I loosened the saddle pad but didn't take it off.  I positioned it back on him correctly and retightened it.  Worked with the hind, fore, back, step, walk, walk out a bit on the lead, turn.

I finished by walking him out of the round pen, having him step over a few logs and such in the obstacle course.  Then, took him to his home pen.  I took off the saddle pad and then rubbed him on both sides.  He wanted to see it on both sides as well so he could sniff it thoroughly.  Fine with me.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Saddle Pad Today

My handsome Tanka. He got groomed. His front feet got cleaned and I did pretty good with stretching his back feet out. I then put on his saddle pad. He wore it for about an hour and a half while I sat with him, worked with Hubby and such. I got back in the pen with him, got a halter on and asked him to do a few things for me. He seemed to gravitate to the mounting block so we worked on that while he was wearing the saddle pad. Worked on head shy by raising my arms up over this head. He is doing better. Obviously trying to release at the right time! Walked him back to his home pen with the saddle pad on. Asked him to stand still while I took off the saddle pad. He wanted to take a close look at while I rubbed him with my free hand. Went to his off side and rubbed him while he took a close look from his other eye at that thing that was on him  Pony got some love and a bit of grooming. Wiseguy got some grooming and his adorable tiny hooves cleaned. [The photo is not from today.]

Tanka tries the saddle again

Tanka had his saddle on again today.
He shied pretty good once while I was putting the saddle on. I took it off and did better at being more direct with the saddle lifting and gently tossing it on instead of looking sort of sneaky like the time before.
He wasn't too happy about the saddle although he did not completely fall apart. I had to reach under Tanka to get the cinch. I asked everyone to just hold still while I reached under since Tanka and I have done this before and we have been fine. The trainer and Hubby cooperated which gave me confidence that they were listening.
We took all the steps nice and slow.
Eventually I walked him around on the lead rope wearing the saddle. I asked him to back, step, move fore and move hind and then go around in both directions while I walked him on the short lead. I wanted to distract him from the fact that he was unhappy with the saddle being on. It did work. He looked slightly humpy but never did have a meltdown and he looked better after a bit of that.
Tanka was pretty unsettled today. When the trainer reached out to Tanka, he jerked away. She went ahead and worked with him alone in the pen to try to desensitize him to her. I thought that was a good idea since he has accepted her previously.
That went fine.
We then let him hang out with the saddle on for a good hour.
Hubby was there and so was the trainer. We sat and talked while Tanka contemplated the saddle. He didn't look too happy about it. He is a funny horse. He would look at it by turning his head from one side to the other.
Once he finally came over to stand near us, I decided we could go ahead and catch him to get the saddle off.
Tanka did not want to come to me in the round pen with his saddle on. I asked him to walk and change directions and walk then tried again . He still didn't want to come to me.
He shied at the bag on the fence even though it didn't bother him at all for the whole morning. He started to come into my space in the center of the pen. I said "Don't you dare come over the top of me." And he didn't :) That made me happy.
After trying the move your feet 3 or 4 times I finally decided to block his energy and get him to stand still. I moved to in front of his driveline [not directly in front] and got him to stop. I managed to get up to him and pet him and get the rope on his halter.
Hubby stood outside the pen holding the lead while I carefully unbuckled the cinch and loosened it. Hubby held still and I asked him to please not do anything to surprise the horse. I managed to get the saddle off the horse.
It is somewhat windy today. And we had a few sprinkles. The trainer and Hubby were there. Plus we saddled him. I think it was a lot for Tanka in one day. He wasn't a nervous wreck but he was unsettled.
I do think it was good for him today. Yes, I asked him to stretch his comfort level but I don't think I let him be pushed too far. He will chew on this and by tomorrow, he will realize that no one tried to hurt him and it wasn't so bad.
I went out in the brisk wind this evening and handed out carrots to everyone. Tanka was still just a bit unsettled in the wind and I could tell he was a bit unhappy with me but he decided he could take carrots from me anyway :)
I'm so glad I got to work with my horse today since the weather is going to be bad for the next couple of days with lots of wind.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Peaceful day with Tanka

Tanka Time

Peaceful day with my handsome horse.

I used the bag on a whip to round pen with him.

I put my coat on his back and sides and up on his neck.

I have an old sheet that I fluffed over the top of him on his back. I even rubbed his face with it.

I let him play with my coat and the new giant bunny and the mounting block.

I used a rope around his middle to keep working with him to accept the pressure of the girth. It is easy to let off the pressure when he makes a change when using the rope.

I had him step and turn and back with the rope around his middle.

I asked him to step up to the mounting block. He was swinging his butt out so I changed the game plan, moved the block to near the fence. He managed to step up perfectly several times. I moved my feet like I might if I was going to get on. I carefully reached over the top of him to pet him on his other side a bit.

It was all going so good, I walked him down the driveway and through the orchard.

I felt a level of trust between us. It was a good day.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Tanka and the Easter Bunny

Tanka Time
Tanka says Happy Easter with his new desensitizing friend...the Easter Bunny.
We finally had a day to do some training. I bought that bunny yesterday for half off at the grocery store so it was in our lesson. Tanka played with it on his own. Eventually I rubbed it on him and put it on his back. I slid it off him and let it drop to the ground. He did great.
Tanka also picked up the noisy tarp today and shook it.
I used the bag on a whip to have him walk, trot and lope free lunging. [This was a horse who couldn't handle the bag on a whip at all a couple of months ago.]
We did some of the usual moving the feet while on lead...fore...hind...back....step.
I worked a lot at the mounting block. I worked him to slowly step up to the block, move his hind over to the block. I was amazed that I could think about him moving one particular foot, look at that foot and he would move it. I told him square up. He is somewhat resistant to having his hind end near the block but that is okay. I just walked around him and asked for one step over with the hind.
He rested near the block when he was positioned properly. However, if he moved I asked him to walk in circles on the lead, change direction and walk. Then, we lined up with the block again and hoped he would figure out that was the good deal.
I finally managed to step up and down on and off the block without Tanka moving several times. I thought that was great so I called it a done training session.
This morning a neighbor came over with her new puppy. Tanka did really well. He took a carrot from the neighbor and was fine with the puppy. He sniffed the neighbor and didn't look worried.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Tanka tries on his new saddle and saddle blanket.

That last photo is my wonderful neighbor and trainer with Tanka.

I got Tanka in the round pen and had him walk, trot, walk, turn, trot, lope, turn just enough to get him wanting some air:)
I brought out the saddle and the blanket and I let him look them over on his own in the round pen.
My trainer came over and we got the saddle on Tanka.
We did that three separate times. Of course, we showed him the blanket and the saddle and put the blanket on and off several times before actually putting the saddle on him.
The first round of having the saddle on, we asked him to step a bit but mostly let him hang out. He showed he was good with it then worried then good. He is a very expressive horse.
The next round of trying on the saddle, I walked him around and then I got him to step up to the mounting block. I jiggled the saddle. I got up on my tip toes. Got up and down the steps a few times. Had him go around the mounting block and stand again. The trainer told me how to help him to get the idea that he is to have his butt near the mounting block instead of turning his butt away from it. He did pretty good at all that.
Last round of trying on the saddle, I saddled him and then the trainer worked with him and he accepted her. Tanka has had a fear of people. He let Hubby and the trainer be out there without looking too worried. This is big for Tanka. She had him flex his neck and head towards the stirrup on each side. I walked Tanka around a bit and we called it good. I finished off by taking off the saddle without the trainer holding the lead.
We took our time and didn't rush Tanka. It was very rewarding to see Tanka accepting the saddle without too much fuss. I loved the way Tanka seemed to say "Yeah, I get it, you are going to put that stuff on me."
I let Tanka sniff the blanket and saddle and nibble on it and he even licked the blanket. So funny and cute. He seemed to think "That's mine."
I'm so excited and it felt great to get out there and work with Tanka today. The trainer said I am just what Tanka needed. Someone willing to take her time and work with him patiently. I am content.

My tack room is official

The weather has been awful for days. The wind has been bad and it has been raining here and there.
I am going through horse training withdrawals and decided the best thing to do was clean out the long shed and make a space for everything.
I ordered a saddle cart that is like a dolly for saddles and I will be able to use that when it arrives. In the mean time I have my new saddle sitting on a wicker basket out there.
So, ropes and saddles and bridles and extra halters and horsey desensitizing toys are all in one place now. The training surcingle and the pony harness and the mini harness are all in there. The mini horse cart is in there.
Also, I have a space on a high shelf for alfalfa pellets and sand clear and the spare bag of dog food and other items the dogs will eat until they are sick! Hopefully, the dogs can't reach it. I installed some hooks on the doors to keep the dogs out, as well. There's also a gate to keep them out of that area but I have very talented dogs so they might manage to get in there anyway.
Naturally, this has been a three day job since I had to clean out the wooden shed so I could move stuff from the long shed to the wooden shed. All the stuff in the new all horse stuff area had to get rearranged and moved. That included about 400 rakes and shovels and hoes [okay, maybe not quite that many] that I had to build a rack for on the other side of the shed so I could move them.
I am desperately hopeful that the wind will clear up and training can resume again. I showed Tanka the new saddle and he tried to eat it so at least he likes it.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Spring is here and it is time to get organized

Spring is here and we are getting our big April storm right now.  Fortunately, this year the storm is pretty warm so far with some rain and not snow in our area.

It is frustrating not to be working the horse but what can you do?

I decided to rearrange the long shed so I have one side being a tack room and the other side being for irrigation supplies and yard tools. Of course, that meant disassembling the current tool set up and redoing it on the opposite end of the long shed.

 A bunch of stuff from the long shed is moving into the wooden barn shed next to the house for storage.  Stuff like paint supplies and tile grout and tiles.  Electrical wire.  A paint sprayer.

We are going to use the wooden shed as an extra storage for the garage.

All the extra dog food and horse food/supplements will now be stored in the long shed on a high shelf that the dogs can't reach.  In addition, the long shed is going to get some much needed hook and eye closures to keep the doors from being opened by the dogs.

I have a saddle cart coming in the mail.  My new saddle and blanket can be stored out there once I am done rearranging. I have a ton of horse training toys and they can go in there as well.

 Wiseguy's horse cart  is in there already, along with his harness.

It always feels good to be more organized.  I'm going to work on this some more today even though the weather is horrible.  

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


I got a saddle for $100 and a nice wool blanket for $70 so we are ready to get Tanka into a saddle and start working him like that.

Cash helped me show off the new saddle blanket.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Tanka in the Wind

I'm pretty proud of the fact that Tanka and I made it out to the round pen, even going down the driveway and back in the wind which was blowing pretty good. We did stops and backs and steps and a few turns and yield hind ends. I decided not to let the wind defeat me and I asked Tanka to step up to the mounting block. 

I sat by the round pen with him and read a book for awhile. I wanted him to see that the wind isn't a problem and I wasn't worried. Tanka got some carrots and he decided to snack on the hay that was in there. 

We finished up with a walk back to his home pen where I again asked him to pay attention to me by stopping, backing, etc. He looked so content when we got back.