On Friday, December 21st, I lost my beloved horse, Tango, a beautiful Peruvian Paso gelding. He was only 11 years old and we still don't know what happened to him. It was only 6 hours from when we found him covered in iced sweat to his death. We rushed him to the vets and they assured us that we had done everything we possibly could to save him and that many people had spent thousands of dollars trying to save their horses with the same outcome. That was some consolation but still heartbreaking. They tested for several infectious substances, which so far have came back negative and we're still waiting on the results of other tests. We suspect that Tango may have had Colitis X, which is almost always fatal and the horse dies within hours of onset. We have meticulously cleaned out the trailer and the pasture to ensure that our other horses and llamas do not meet the same fate.
Here's what they say about Peruvian Paso horses:
This horse, one of the world's last remaining naturally gaited breeds, is becoming a sensation among American horse enthusiasts for several very good reasons. There is "something for everyone" in this smooth, elegant animal; riding comfort, strength and stamina for the avid trail rider; calm tractable disposition so important in the family mount; arrogant, flashy presence and action which set the exhibitor and parader apart from others, and investment potential solidly supported by its relative rarity and increasing popularity.
Today, the Peruvian transmits its smooth gait to all purebred foals. No artificial devices or special training aids are necessary to enable the horse to perform its specialty - a natural four-beat footfall of medium speed that provides a ride of incomparable smoothness and harmony of movement.
In addition to an easy gait, the Peruvian's creators desired their new breed to retain brilliant action typified by lift as the knee and fetlock flex, combined with "termino," a movement of the front legs similar to the loose outward rolling of a swimmer's arms in the crawl.
Perhaps the most misunderstood of all traits that distinguishes the Peruvian horse is "brio," a quality of spirit that enables this tractable horse to perform with an arrogance and exuberance that can only be described as thrilling. "Brio" and stamina give the Peruvian its willingness and ability to perform tirelessly for many hours and many miles in the service of its rider.
Tango was with us for almost four years. He had so much energy (they call it Brio) and was so full of life. He taught me so much in those four years: he taught me that respect and trust are earned; and respect and trust are easily lost if you're not careful; he taught me that love is unconditional; he taught me that patience and hard work are rewarded with results; he taught me that sometimes just being together is enough.
I am convinced that the four years Tango spent with us here at Split Rock Ranch were the best four years of his life. He came to us a nervous wreck with a short mane and tail and no trust - he was impossible to catch in the pasture. I worked with him in the round pen to build his confidence and to earn his respect and his trust. He was a quick learner and a willing partner. He soon learned that when in the round pen he knew exactly what to do: he would run his laps around the round pen, first one direction, then the other and soon he would stop, swivel his hindquarters away from me, drop his head and come straight to me in the center of the pen. At that point I could brush him, pick out all four feet, and walk around the pen with him - eventually doing all of this without a halter or lead rope. We worked hard on building confidence and went from coming unglued at slight movements to spooking in place - barely flinching a muscle when I threw a lead rope over his back and around his legs. I was eventually even able to kick a soccer ball between his legs without him even flinching. Now there's progress! His mane and tail grew long and gorgeous and he was ever protective of "his girls". One night this past summer, a bear went through the pastures, spooking the llamas and the horses. Tango refused to leave the side of our 28 year old POA mare, Puff, who is blind in one eye. He carefully herded her to safety, never leaving her side.
So, Tango, if there is a Horse Heaven, I know you're there. A piece of my heart goes with you. Here's one last hug and a kiss on that soft gentle nose of yours.