Rising dressage star Cabana Boy, an 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Hilltop Farm, was euthanized on Monday, Aug. 23, after a catastrophic injury during turnout.
“He went out first thing in the morning. He goes in a paddock very close to the barn, and he’s been in that paddock for years,” said Chris Hickey, the head trainer for Hilltop Farm in Colora, Md.
Hickey said Cabana Boy was waiting quietly at the gate to come in, and no one saw anything out of the ordinary happen. However, he somehow managed to shatter a knee, and after consulting with a team of veterinarians, the decision was made to euthanize him.
“I’m devastated,” said Hickey. “I grew up with our horses going out. Many of those horses lived out 24 hours a day with run-in sheds. I was raised feeling that turnout is a good thing, and I still stand behind that. I expect my horses to work very hard for me, and I try to take the best care of them that I can. That means keeping them healthy, happy and fit. Things like this make you want to wrap the horses in bubble wrap, but that’s not always the best thing for the horses.”
Bred by Doug and Shannon Langer, Cabana Boy began his illustrious career by becoming site champion at the American Hanoverian Society Foal Inspection in Wisconsin in 2002.
Hilltop Farm and Jane MacElree acquired him as a yearling, as he was by Hilltop’s stallion Contucci out of Britania (by Bordeaux).
Cabana Boy continued his winning ways at Dressage At Devon (Pa.) in 2004 where he took the young horse championship. He earned the national 5 and 6-year-old titles with Hickey and also was the USEF Developing Horse Champion as a 7-year-old.
Most recently he placed third at this year’s Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Intermediaire I National Championships in Gladstone, N.J., Aug. 6-8.
“It’s heartbreaking for Jane [MacElree],” said Hickey. “That horse is by one of her stallions, and he’s lived here since he was a yearling. Cabana was schooling everything in the Grand Prix. Those don’t come around very often.”
Hickey was aiming Cabana Boy toward the 2011 Pan American Games.