The One and Only...Tekka
Our beloved Tekka crossed the rainbow bridge in September of 2016.
In April of 2012, I was contacted by a woman who needed to place several horses she owned due to her divorce and the loss of her home. She had three children to raise on her own, and financially, she could no longer afford her four horses. But regrettably, I couldn't help her. Having added nineteen horses in the last few months due to the big rescue from Animal Control, there was no way we could take on four more, so I had to tell her "no." As it turned out, she was able to place three of them herself, and two weeks later, she called me again, begging me to take the oldest of the horses, a Thoroughbred gelding, named Tekka. He was the only one left, and we would be his last hope. She explained that he was a wonderful horse and that her children loved him, and could not bear the thought of a horrible ending for this guy. So, I agreed to take him on, hoping we could place him fairly quickly.
Tekka was everything she had described. At twenty-five, he was still sound and in great condition. We started riding him right away so that we could learn about his personality and abilities. We quickly discovered that he was an amazing trail horse. Then in June, I was contacted by R Ranch in the Sequoia National Park region of the Sierras. They had a stable that offered trail rides for guests, and they were looking for a few horses to add to their string for the summer. They explained that these trail rides were only walking rides, that the horses all had two days a week off, and that they were ridden no more than once a day. I did some checking and called them back about three days later, agreeing to lease them two horses for the summer. One was Tekka, and the other was a friend he had made, named Snowflake. (You can find Snowflake's story in the Rainbow Bridge pages.)
As summer came to an end, we found ourselves in a predicament. We had to move the entire Rescue and I was desperately searching for a new place. I asked R Ranch if they could keep Snowflake and Tekka for us until we got moved, and they agreed.
We moved to our current location on October 15, 2012. It took us about a month to get everything set up. But now I had no volunteers as we had just moved two hours from Tehachapi! The only help I had were my two children, Hannah, seventeen, and Payton, thirteen, and we had sixteen horses to care for. (Chris didn't come to MOP until June of 2013.)
To keep the workload within manageable limits, I started looking for a foster home for Tekka and Snowflake. MOP would still pay for their care, but this way, they would not have to add to the workload and they would still get the attention they deserved. We found an amazing lady named Sue, who lived only two miles from us. She wanted to have company for her single horse, but could not afford to take on the costs of another one. She was excited to be able to foster two horses for us. However, winter had set in, and coordinating a time to get them when it wasn't snowing in the Sierras was a bit of a challenge.
Finally in January of 2013, I was able to make the trip to the high country to get them during a break in the weather. They had been taken care of in excellent fashion, but the two were excited to see me, nonetheless. I was happy to see them, too.
We made the trip home without incident and unloaded them at Sue’s. They seemed to like the place! I was relieved. I went once a week to deliver their food and to visit them. My goodness, Sue lavished them with such attention. She groomed them every day, rode them a couple of times a week, and was happy for her mare to have company! This was working great. Then, five months later, in June 2013, Sue called to let me know that someone who had been a visitor to her ranch, and had been spending time with Tekka and Snowflake, was interested in adopting Tekka. By this time, Sue had taken on a few more horses as boarders, and her mare was no longer alone.
We met this family and went through the pre-adoption process, checking references and watching them interacting with the horses. Before the process was over, they asked if Snowflake could go along with Tekka since the two were so attached to each other. We agreed. But, Snowflake was going on a feed lease, and not as an adoption because she had developed Melanomas and we knew her days were numbered. We agreed that when the time came, we would come with our veterinarians and be with her to take care of the final act of compassion (humane euthanasia). The wife of the new family had a special soft spot for Snowflake as she herself had beaten the odds in her own battle with a rare cancer a few years before.
Per our adoption contract, horses must never be sold or given away until we are contacted, and a new home is approved. It is also in our contracts that we have first rights to a horse if the horse must be re-homed. All adoptions come with an initial trial period of ninety days.
At the ninety-day mark, I made a visit to Snowflake's and Tekka’s new home. Snowflake was fat and happy. Tekka had lost a little weight and did not seem himself. I talked with the new owners about this and learned that the wife, and mother of three, at just thirty-one years old, was battling a return of her previous cancer. For the last month, she had been in and out of the hospital and needed to receive chemo again. I offered to take the horses back, but her son had become so attached to Tekka that she didn’t want to give them up just yet. She also said that at this time, Snowflake was her strength. We agreed to stay in touch, as things went forward, and she agreed to give them back if things looked grim for the family. We talked about Tekka’s weight loss, which at this point was not so much. He was not too thin, but he HAD lost about fifty to seventy-five pounds, and it was unexplainable. He was receiving adequate amounts of feed but, they told me, he was disinterested in eating at times. I asked if I could have a vet come and look at him. The next week, he had a full exam, including blood work. There was nothing medically wrong. so we discussed adding some supplements to his diet. The husband was the one caring for the horses now. The wife could only make short visits to them.
Two weeks later, I got the call that they needed to return the horses. The wife was fading rapidly during the chemo treatments, and now could no longer go outside at all. They were afraid she might not make it. I went to retrieve the two horses the next day. Tekka had lost another fifty pounds, and was so depressed that it made my heart hurt.
Today, I am positive that at that time he was picking up on this family’s stress and sadness. Tekka is absolutely the most sensitive horse I have ever known. He is an 1100-pound ball of sympathy and empathy! Tekka continued in his depression for about a week after he returned home, but, each day, I saw light returning to his eyes. Within two weeks, he was his normal self and was regaining his weight.
Unlike Vinny and Merlin, Tekka is an introvert. He is quiet and sensitive. You can literally see it in his expression if he has made a mistake, or has done something wrong, and he is so sorry. It is almost as if he actually cries about it inside. This is a horse that should never be yelled at. I once asked a farrier to leave after yelling at him. All Tekka had done was move very slightly because he was uncomfortable hiking his back leg into the trimming position. The farrier went ballistic, yelling and demanding that Tekka “STAND STILL!” I saw this horse’s heart break. I am not kidding. He was crushed because he was trying so hard to hold still and be a good boy, yet even so, he got in trouble. But, he is an older horse. It's very difficult for them to stand with one leg twisted up behind them while they get their feet trimmed. They get stiff sometimes, and need to stretch or warm up beforehand, and sometimes they need to have a break from holding their legs in those positions for a long period of time during the trimming process. I told the man to leave, right then. I am a bit protective of our horses, and I am not saying that they do not need to be disciplined sometimes, but in Tekka’s case, he did nothing wrong, and did not deserve the angry response he received from an impatient person who misunderstood him. (Fortunately, Chris was a farrier for eighteen years, and he does all of our farrier work now.)
Because Tekka is so sensitive, he is a REMARKABLE therapy horse. People sense that he is empathetic, probably an empath, and I have witnessed many people break down crying during an exercise with him, holding his neck tightly and just sobbing--letting their hurts out--some for the first time in their lives. Because he has such a mellow and quiet demeanor, he is also the perfect horse to dispel people’s fears about horses. (Feeding time is a different story, though. There is nothing quiet about him at feeding time. He is the biggest talker on the ranch and has earned the nickname “Talking Tekka” because he whinnies and nickers constantly until the feed cart gets to him for his turn. He makes me smile every time!)
Tekka is also a lover of children and a big hit at kid’s camps for activities ranging from painting him to grooming him, and sitting on him while being led around the arena for special balance and confidence-building exercises. He is one that we can assign to eight kids at the same time to surround and paint on him. He won’t budge an inch, for he does not want to step on anyone or cause anyone even accidental harm or fear. He is very aware when it comes to this sort of thing. Tekka is the ideal horse for a kid's camp. The kids love to just spend time hanging out with him.
In October of 2015, we discovered that Tekka has a malignant type of tumor in his neck. As of this writing, we are still researching possible treatments The tumor is in a spot that makes it difficult to remove, so we are hoping to shrink it so that it CAN be safely removed. He is still happy and full of life, but he has an open tumor on the right side of his neck. The cancer could be working its way through his body, but we are hopeful now that Dr. Sam has taken him on as a patient.
I have had to say good-bye to many friends on this journey, and I know one day soon, I will have to say good-bye to this special horse that is all heart. We will not put him through unnecessary treatments that could actually shorten the time he has left, so we are still researching this carefully.
Tekka still enjoys his food, the turnouts with his friends, and the company of everyone here at MOP. For now, he is not in pain. As long as he is happy and wants to live, we will do all we can for him. We will cherish every day he has left on this earth.
(In Tekka's story and a few others, I have mentioned that we were sometimes assisted with the care of our rescued horses by several "foster" homes. If you have space for one or two horses on your property, providing foster care for a local horse (or donkey) Rescue is an excellent way to help in the Rescue of homeless equids. It requires no money, just your time, and some accommodation space.. The Rescue for whom you foster will generally pay for feed and veterinary care, although, if you choose, you may contribute in this way as well, providing the feed is approved by the Rescue. In return, you will get the gratitude of the Rescue and all the benefits that come from interacting with horses.)