Around 2006, I was boarding my first horse, Morkie, at a barn in middle Tennessee. The barn owned bought several horses from a kill auction that summer and I fell in love with a gelding whose name had been Garfield. He was unbearably skinny and unbearably sweet. I was in love and I called him Tiki.
Tiki was clearly severely malnourished but he wanted to be with people. He followed us around the pasture and, for a sum of $600 (his purchase price and initial vet bill), my family bought him from the barn owner. Tiki had a forever home with us and lived to be about 19 years old on our farm before we humanely laid him to rest when his EPM finally began manifesting neurologically.
He never made it to the show ring but Tiki taught me a lot about horsemanship and about believing in someone. I backed him myself and he came with me all over Tennessee and Kentucky. We stopped riding him when the EPM began to affect his coordination and, eventually, eye sight.
Of unknown breeding, Tiki wasn’t much to look at but I was as proud of him as any young teenage girl could be. I started him on my own and took a lot of pride in how far he had come. He hated trailers, pawed when he ate his dinner and loved just about everyone and everything else.
Had my family known how much we’d spend on vet bills to figure out his mystifying health issues, who knows what may have happened. But I honestly wouldn’t change anything. He taught me perseverance and humility. In his later years, Tiki began losing weight again. It was very humbling to have to explain that his disease didn’t allow his body to absorb nutrients properly to other horse people with raised eyebrows.
I don’t know how his ultra-narrow chest fit his large, puppy dog heart but it did. Nibbles is the only horse I’ve had since Tiki that can come close to that “pick me! pick me!” attitude. Thank you, Tiki, for teaching a teenage girl so much. I’m so glad you found me.