Heartless Sofiya – All Heart

A pretty bay filly was in a very dark place at the end of August, and with some exceptional dedication, patience and care she has moved into the light.

Heartless Sofiya (Cape Canaveral, out of Atocha Queen) was fighting fit by the middle of the racing season, and had 1 win, $12,746 in earnings and was settled in to being a racehorse. Her bright future clouded over in August when she was diagnosed with a serious medical condition. She was at Delaney Veterinary Services, where the vets and staff worked diligently to treat her almost around the clock. The intense medical care worked a miracle, and Sofiya recovered sufficiently to be moved to Westana Equine for rehabilitation. Under the daily guidance from the advisory team from DVS, Sofiya began a new journey. Her path was no longer from the track to the winner’s circle, but a journey from the brink of death to life.

Heartless Sofiya as a yearling

“Sofiya never gave up,” says Westana Equine Manager Christine Cake, “There were entire days when she spent almost 24 hours lying down. But every day she struggled to her feet. And every time she tried, we helped her. If she had quit trying, we would have quit.”

Assistant Manager Jessica Hutton added “As long as she wanted to fight, we fought with her.”

Sofiya’s transition from the clinic to Westana did not go as smoothly as planned. Sofiya was recovering from pneumonia and needed daily antibiotics and wore a nebulizer to help clear her breathing. Her pneumonia cleared up and they were heartened when she was on the mend. Unfortunately, she had a bigger battle to fight. A bacterial infection set in and she was on a roller coaster of high temperatures and fever. She was so sick the team worried about laminitis. She wore ice boots, which had to be changed every couple of hours, all day, every day. And every night Christine and Jessica took turns to spend an hour with her to settle her in. They were glued to the live camera stream on their phones, and could be there almost immediately if Sofiya was struggling to stand or showed signs of distress.

Heartless Sofiya with Nebulizer

Her tendons started to deteriorate from the infection. She was unable to move normally and would swing a front leg ahead, with her toe flipping up from her damaged tendons, and wait for a team member to stabilize her leg and then place her hind leg forward. Then take a step with the other front. She had very little coordination or balance, which is mentally distressing for a flight animal. It was a grim time for the entire staff watching her stagger to her feet and awkwardly move around. But Sofiya continued getting to her feet.

Slowly, with great effort and with her dedicated nursing team she was able to stand, then walk for 2 minutes. And then five. And then she graduated to being allowed into the courtyard at the main barn at Westana. Initially, she could only graze outside for a few minutes, and then the team had to get her back inside for rest. She would graze, lie down in the courtyard for some sunshine, and then get up and move back to her stall. Weeks of demanding care were taking a toll on the entire team, but Sofiya kept making herculean efforts to get up and walk to the courtyard. And Westana was committed to her for the long haul.

Heartless Sofiya napping in the Westana Courtyard

Sofiya progressed by baby steps. But she did make progress. Farrier Darcy McKinney was called in to place special shoes on her front feet so she could place her foot flat when she stepped and not flip her toe up. Dr. Jodie Santarossa did some additional therapy and equi-taping to increase circulation and support the tendons. Lorna Kiff was called in to do some massage therapy to relieve Sofiya’s body soreness. Other medications continued. And everyone involved was working together to keep her comfortable and keep her moving.

Farrier Darcy McKinney shows extended shoes on Heartless Sofiya

Sofiya’s bright shiny coat has turned dull. Her bloom has yet to come back and she’s still thin. She has some bedsores from the medications and her time spent flat on her side. She has a long way back to being completely sound and healthy.

But she is alive. And not just alive, but bright-eyed, alert, eager for the walk out to her paddock each morning. She nods her head cheerfully at the team when they pass her stall, demanding attention and a neck rub or kiss on the nose. She is gaining strength every day. She has regained enough mobility and coordination to canter and kick up her heels when she is turned out.

Heartless Sofiya with Christine Cake

Westana Equine owners Pam Proud and Bob Cramers are overjoyed to see the progress that Sofiya has made. Pam said “when you see a horse fight so hard to live, we knew we had to do everything we could for her. She’s special, you could see in her eyes that she knew we were trying to help her.”

Attending veterinarian Dr. Lana Delaney said “there were a number of times when I didn’t know if Sofiya would live, she was so very ill. But, she’s a fighter and the team at Westana nursed her through some long, long days and nights.”


World Heavyweight Champion boxer Jack Dempsey said “A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t”, and by that definition, Heartless Sofiya is a champion. Sofiya wanted to live. And the team at Westana never lost hope. Their care and devotion brought her through some dark moments and today she rewards them with a whicker, a toss of her pretty head and a sideways prance in her stall. Heartless Sofiya, and her team of caregivers, are all heart.

Heartless Sofiya Grazing