CAÑON CITY — Andrea Incitti and Katie Knight, both horse owners in Pueblo West, say their horses are like their kids, so they were rattled when a sudden outbreak killed over 100 horses less than one hour away.
"I think that we were all in shock and wondered right away - Oh my god what could be killing these horses?" said Incitti, who has had horses since she was five-years old.
According to a report on Friday, 102 wild horses died at a complex on the Colorado Department of Corrections land in Cañon City. Horse owners nearby are feeling less nervous, now that the Bureau of Land Management believes they have identified the cause - A common equine influenza.
Doctor Romy Nicoletta, an Equine Veterinarian in Walsenberg and near Pueblo, says this type of influenza (subtype H3N8) is comparable to the human flu, but most domesticated horses are vaccinated against it.
On top of being unvaccinated, these wild horses at the complex were round up from the Sand Wash Basin in an emergency effort by BLM in 2021.
"This population of horses, we do know that they have exposure to some wildfires in the last year and that may have damaged their lungs... Which potentially could be leaving them predisposed... So more at risk for a high mortality, high death rates."
As the horses in this heard of more than 2,000+ rapidly passed away, members of the horse community grew more and more concerned, according to Knight.
Knight is the Vice President of the Arkansas Valley Dressage Association, which has a show coming up towards the end of May.
"We were starting to see people sign up and the minute this news hit, my perception is that all applications stopped."
If any horse owners are planning on taking their horses anywhere amid the "outbreak", Dr. Nicoletta recommends "everybody should get a hold of their vet, get an appointment to go in and get your horses boostered."
You can read the BLM release and veterinarian report regarding the horses' potential diagnosis here.
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