It has been nearly 6 months since the sad death of our beloved Caña. I finally feel stong enough to write about her, though I will never forget her
Caña came to us in January 2016 along with another horse, Sierra. They had both been working at another trekking centre over the mountains from us and needed a new home. The trekking business was downsizing.
Unfortunately, Caña arrived with what we were told by her previous owners, and assumed ourselves, was thrush. It turned out to be much worse and when we removed her shoes we found the full extent of the problem. All four of Cañas feet were badly infected with canker (a disease that is next to impossible to treat and a poor prognosis for success). Her feet and heels were bleeding and oozing white puss.
Incredibly she wasn’t showing any lameness but her feet were so bad and so painful to the touch. We can only assume that as it affected all 4 feet, she couldn’t show lameness as she couldn’t limp!
We immediately called the vet and so began months of treatment. Soaking all four feet daily in special solutions, as the months went on, a new mixture of treatments were tried and tested. The transition to barefoot helped a lot but it was a constant battle to keep the infection at bay.
Helping Caña to enjoy people
When we first took Caña on, her previous owners described her as ‘not a cuddly horse’. This was a huge under statement. Caña was so sad and shut down, she literally shuddered if you even put a finger lightly on her. With the aid of a clicker and treats we set to work to help her accept human touch more readily. After a lot of time and patience, we were gradually able to catch her, tack her up, ask her to lower her head for her bridle (relaxed) and be mounted at the mounting block without rushing off, all at liberty.
We started to ride her once her feet had started to heal; the vet assured us that movement would help her recovery. When she came to us she was neck reined with a bit. At the grand old age of 24 we transitioned her overnight to bitless with 2 reins and she was amazing! I loved riding her.
With all the months of positive reinforcement, she really responded to my voice. Though she had a huge, long stride (she was a very tall horse), I only had to say ‘stand’ for her to stop and wait for the other horses to catch up.
Caña’s last day
20 minutes into a lovely ride on a beautiful sunny September day last year, the dreaded event took place. Our lovely Caña was kicked in the leg by our old mare Capri, breaking it badly. It all happened so suddenly, one minute we were walking along, chatting and enjoying our ride, then suddenly Caña was rearing in pain. Luckily our fantastic vets came very quickly and poor Caña was put to sleep very peacefully in the olive grove where the accident happened.
After all the months working with her, we had a strong bond and I really loved her. I miss her gentleness and beauty, she was a very special horse. I console myself that her feet would never have been 100% – canker has a habit of never quite going away, and she has been spared having to tolerate the constant treatment for the rest of her life. She died when her health was at it’s peak of improvement, after a very happy summer of going on picnic rides and being loved by everyone.
She did not have to struggle through another winter, which I know would have taken it’s toll on her feet especially as she was inclined to get mud fever. Despite knowing this, I will never stop missing her.