In Memory of Teka, My Favorite Horse

June 24th, 2011

By Dan Miller

Dan Miller's TekaTeka, my small (about fourteen hands high) Paso Fino – Quarter Horse mix who died on June 23rd due to a snake bite, was my favorite horse; I have never known one better.  We knew each other well and I loved him.  Here is a photo of Teka taken soon after I bought him.  He eventually became grayer to the point that he looked a bit like Robert E. Lee’s horse, Traveler, except that his mane was naturally hogged, probably because he habitually stuck his neck through the fence to get the grass on the other side, always greener and better tasting.

I bought him about five years ago as a five year old and trained him as well as I knew how.  Before I bought him, he had been ridden little, in a severe bit, and was skittish. He then seemed to resent being ridden.  As we worked together, we got to know and understand each other well.  As we progressed, it seemed as though he could read my mind and I his.  Only the most subtle leg pressure, weight shifts and rein signals against his neck became needed to ask him to do what I wanted and after we had worked on his training he always obliged.  I used only a simple bosal, no bit in his mouth and no leverage to amplify my requests.  Teka’s favorite treat was a banana.  Whenever he saw me, he pawed the ground in anticipation.  He seemed a bit jealous if I rode one of the other horses first.

Teka was young, only about ten.  Somehow, I’m reminded of this song by Jimmy Buffett.

Teka had a good but short life for a horse and for him to deteriorate in old age would not have been good, for either of us.  At least we were together about an hour before the end and I think he knew that it was near.  He seemed to appreciate that I was with him, even though I had to give him an intramuscular injection.  As always, he did not flinch when I gave it to him.  I shall treasure his memory always.

(This article was also posted at Dan Miller’s Blog.)

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7 Responses to “In Memory of Teka, My Favorite Horse”

  1. Tom Carter |

    Dan, I’m very sorry for your loss. I suppose some people don’t understand how one feels at the loss of an animal who has become, for all practical purposes, a part of the family. It may be easier to understand where dogs and cats are concerned, but horses can also be loved and treasured by their owners. There’s something almost mystical about some horses, the really good ones. May Teka rest in peace.

  2. Dan Miller |

    Thanks, Tom

  3. larry ennis |

    Please except my condolences for the loss of your friend Teka. Tom is correct in his assertions about pets that have the ability to become a member of the family(or so it seems).

  4. Dan Miller |

    Thanks, Larry. They certainly do, dogs perhaps to a greater extent than horses because dogs generally live in the house. However, once you get to know a horse his “horseality” becomes just as noticeable as personalities and dogalities.

  5. d |

    I feel your pain,greatly.. I miss my horse Mariah,the best horse to ever live,who also died at 10. I agree,though, she didn’t want to get old and decrepid. I cried like a baby on the side of the road,as I held her head out of a ditch full of water,as she died. I miss her more than any person,I have ever known. This loss,I have never gotten over. Mariah was my comfort through a divorce,and many so many heartaches,I cannot count. I will miss her,until,if God allows,I will ride her into heaven. I also,lost my best friend,Denver, second best horse to ever live. I do not have a real horse now,because,I don’t think I could survive another loss. I can’t seem to open my heart to another horse,because of the fear of losing them. I will remember Mariahs’ comforting neigh,whenever,I went out my door,from her first breath,to her last,until I take my last breath.
    I have never felt that close to a dog or cat. The best thing for the inside of a man or woman,is the outside of a horse,no truer words were ever spoken.I am so sorry for your great loss,my friend.

  6. Dan Miller |

    Thanks, d

    Your kind words mean a lot to me. I last saw Teka when I administered an intramuscular injection recommended by our vet who based, on a description of his symptoms — unsteadiness and unwillingness to walk — suspected colic. As I was preparing the shot, I noticed some blood mixed with his urine as it dripped out; I collected about 50cc in a bottle for the vet.

    Within minutes of the injection, I noticed some small drops of blood coming from the injection site as well, something I had never before seen. Neither was a good sign, but I had hopes that he might recover. I put my arms around his neck and he leaned against me. Perhaps he foresaw what was going to happen, very soon. Looking back, I think he did.

    Teka was dead an hour and a half later. When I called the vet to tell him that Teka had died and told him about the blood, he thought it a near certainty that Teka had been bitten by a snake; there are some very venomous critters here. The vet now has the urine sample and we should know for sure today or tomorrow.

    I was not there when Teka died; our worker came to tell me that he had. I did not go see him then, preferring to remember him as when he was alive. That’s the way I shall remember him, always.


  7. d |

    My mare,Denver,had the same symptoms,and it was West Nile..I sat with her all night,that night,and petted her. It was cold,so I covered her with a blanket and watched, as the life left her beautiful eyes. The saddest thing I ever saw. To feel so helpless,to watch a huge,1200 pound animal,who was in perfect health her entire life,so vulnerable and helpless, was horrible. She looked into my eyes,yes,really,and then closed her eyes and passed. She was too big to move,so the vet came out,but said she would die. It was the longest night of my life. I had owned her for her entire life,so my pasture was very empty after she died,and still is. My other mare,Mariah,had been hit by a truck,my son or husband,still not sure which,left the gate open,so had to be put down,by the vet.This was equally,horrible,but not so torturous. Neither one of them has the guts to tell me who really did it.
    I hope your lab results come back, a snake,totally no one’s fault. I still feel guilty and relive scenarious that would’ve prevented their senseless deaths.You will always miss him,it has been 18 years since Mariah,but seems like yesterday. I will never forget the trust and love in their eyes.

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