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.
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.