ETeSelle - what beautiful horses! My dear old gelding died of sheer old age 2 years ago,and I still miss him so much. How awful to find your boy had such a disease - I guess he didn't show it.
Well, he did, but it wasn't diagnosed. For 18 mos or so before he crashed, we'd been having various problems. Stuff that it was hard to put a finger on--he just didn't FEEL right to me. Vet came out and he was checked for lameness, and even neuro stuff (which as it turns out it was, but the testing didn't show that early on). I had him on ulcer meds b/c he was losing weight. The vet couldn't find anything wrong (and I think thought I was nuts). It was all very gradual--so it was hard to be SURE.
Then one day it was OBVIOUS--he was unable to walk correctly. We thought it was EPM and put him on Marquis (the anti-protozoal med) right away while we awaiting the test results. But then we realized he was unable to swallow. He was at the vet clinic, on IV fluids and being tube-fed, for 2 weeks. The tests all came back negative. Finally they scoped him and saw all the melanoma up in his gutteral pouches (which affects them neurologically). At that point it was obvious there was NO cure and I had to let him go.
I've done a LOT of second-guessing myself over the 2 years since--I feel I should have pressed the vet harder, etc. I know it wouldn't have mattered--there was nothing they could have done anyway--but I wouldn't have kept him going for so long if I'd known what it was (those last 2 weeks were probably very, very hard on him) and I wouldn't have kept riding him. So there's guilt. I know he would never blame me and I know that when I see him at the Rainbow Bridge he'll be strong and healthy and happy to see me. But it's still very hard.