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21 Horses drop dead before Polo Match - Updated

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posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 05:29 AM
This is concerning. I've never heard of this type thing happening before unless we're talking about Yellowstone buffalo.

Fourteen thoroughbred horses dropped dead in a mysterious scene Sunday before a polo match near West Palm Beach, Florida, officials said.

Two horses initially collapsed, and as vets and team officials scrambled to revive them, five others became dizzy, said Tim O'Connor, spokesman for the polo club.

It sounds like a gas effect to me. This is very strange.


added link

[edit on 20/4/09 by masqua]

Updated to reflect 7 more deaths overnight.

[edit on 4-20-2009 by Valhall]

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 07:13 AM
reply to post by Valhall

Poisoned water at the grounds would be my guess. Autopsies will no doubt be done and the cause revealed. It could have been deliberate or perhaps something natural like blue-green algae.

If this was deliberately done then it would be interesting to know why someone would do such a thing to innocent animals.

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 07:25 AM
My vote is the feed. There's a type of botulism that can form in spoiled hay - usually if it's been left in the rain and then baked in the sun - it basically ferments inside the bail. A farm near me lost close to 200 horses that way. The crappy thing is that you can vaccinate the horses against it for less than $2 a dose.

edit: Spoiled hay is usually only sold as cattle feed because their digestive systems can handle it. So, cutting costs on the feed and the vaccine is probably what caused these deaths. I expect to see a lot more of it in the future, if not animals left to outright starve.

[edit on 4/20/2009 by mythatsabigprobe]

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 07:40 AM
reply to post by mythatsabigprobe

There's always the performance enhancing drug option. Horse trainers are notorious for giving horses 'speed'. It could have been a hot dose.

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 07:57 AM
I doubt the feed killed them. Polo horses are extremely spoiled and well taken care of. I don't pamper my horses to much and never came close to losing them because of feed issues. I never feed moldy hay, which is easy to is moldy grain. My horses don't get that vaccine either. In fact, I never heard of it before and I've had horses for over 30 years of my life.

It was either drugs, water contamination or some freak gas problem.

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 08:02 AM
In 25 years of training, breeding and showing horses I’ve yet to hear of such a horrific tragedy (beyond barn fires).

I’m so sorry to hear about this and though it will remain a tragedy I surely hope it’s not found to be a deliberate attack.

You can be sure the horses were heavily ensured - but that can’t replace all the years of training and care, love an detention put into these incredible creatures.

How sad...

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 08:02 AM
Feeding hay in the morning to horses that compete in athletic events would be odd. Too much bulk that digests too slowly. At night yes, but signs of poisoning from botulism would have shown up earlier than the following day. The horses high temperatures would however indicate infection of some type.

Australia had an outbreak of a flu-like virus, originating in bats, that crossed into stabled horses in Brisbane some years ago and it affected the lungs and killed quickly. From memory quite a few horses died before it was controlled by quarantine measures. The horse trainer at the first affected property also succumbed to the virus quickly despite intensive care at a top hospital.

I hope the US case isn't similar to the Australian one because there is no mention of quarantining other horses that would have been at the polo field or any special hygiene measures to prevent humans spreading it around via their boots or similar.

[edit on 20-4-2009 by Nineteen]

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 08:07 AM
Seven more horses died overnight.

It could also have been poison, or toxic bedding. I'm wondering what could be wrong with the bedding. In our area we mainly use wood shavings from pine or cedar.

This is so tragic. We lost a 23 year old mare a week ago and it devastated us. I can just imagine what the owners are going through, losing healthy young athletic horses like that. It really hurts bad.

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 08:09 AM
Right now there saying its up to 21 horses dead and still no clues... I agree it would be odd to feed them before a match but not unheard of. I would also point out I have gone to buy feed and walked away finding the bails had things like witch grass or jimson weed mixed in

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 08:12 AM
reply to post by Nineteen

Feeding hay in the morning to horses that compete in athletic events would be odd.

No odd at all.
My horses had a hay net in front of them at all times (for the most part).
In the trailer, out, in pit stop stalls, in completion holding stalls, in between events once they were cooled off...

By the time I was finished grooming, tacking up and the horse was warmed up for competition there was no worry about any ill effects of having eaten hay.
Worse would be a horse completely stressed out and ill at ease from no hay at all - IMO.

It's perfectly understandable for someone to question the hay.

What isn't understandable is 16 horses falling ill on at the same time on the same hay, as, I don't know anyone that competes in any discipline in the equine industry that allows their horses to eat hay from the facility where they're competing - unless they are stabled there for long periods of time.
I always took my own hay as did any other owner.

Water on the other hand?
Even though I transported a good amount of my own water there were times when I was forced to use water where I was stabling/showing my babies.



I’m wondering what kind of fly spray this stable uses?

It’s not uncommon for a stable to have automatic sprayers to *mist* the barns and paddocks close to the barns for flies.
If the *mister* had a poison in it or the fly spray was mixed incorrectly - it could possibly get into the water buckets - or - into the hay - even something the horses breathed in?

Would make more sense than feed - unless of course it was a deliberate attack.

Poor things...


[edit on 20-4-2009 by silo13]

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 08:29 AM
Two horses had symptoms right after they got off the trailer. It doesn't sound like there was enough time for their environment to have been a factor.

We always take our own feed to events when we trailer our horses. Luckily in our area we don't have too bad of a problem with poisonous weeds.

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 08:42 AM
This sounds like awful news. How sad for the horses. At Dreby last year, one of the horses had to be put down right after the race, I cried. I hope they find out what happened.

From this cbs article, the vet says it looks like poison.

" Apr 20, 2009 9:15 am US/Eastern
21 Polo Horses Drop Dead In Fla.

Officials were waiting Monday for test results to find out why 21 polo horses from a Venezuelan team fell fatally ill before a match at a Florida tournament. One veterinarian said it looked like some kind of poison was to blame."


Since Derby is mere weeks away, I hope the cause is found quickly. I wonder if any of these horses were derby horses.

[edit on 20-4-2009 by hotbakedtater]

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 08:48 AM
reply to post by hotbakedtater

Since Derby is mere weeks away, I hope the cause is found quickly. I wonder if any of these horses were derby horses.

No no no don't worry, no Derby horses were involved.

Though I have to admit I got a *horsy person* chuckle over that one...

(Absolutely NO offence to you - that chuckle)...

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 08:53 AM
Just wondering if there was any more news on the cause of the collapse.
Makes my heart hurt to see that so many of them were affected !!


posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 08:56 AM
reply to post by mythatsabigprobe

Molded hay can sure kill a horse, but I seriously doubt that's what happened in this particular case. A horse that has eaten moldy hay usually have other symptoms that appear, and can be treated immediately, before a horse will die. Unless the person caring for the horse is totally clueless, which I also doubt in this case. Polo, race, rodeo horses are VERY WELL cared for and pampered. They cost a lot of money and have to be in peak physical condition to do what they do. Moldy hay can usually be smelled as soon as a flake is broken off the bail, so no horse person would ever feed moldy hay intentionally. And ya' don't let a dimwit care for a $100,000 horse! So, I would rule that out.

The grain they were fed would be a more likely cause, but since it was only these particular horses, and not others fed the same kind of grain, that also seems unlikely. High performance horses are fed basically the same kind of grain as other horses, it is just amped up with additional vitamins and minerals. If a lot of feed was contaminated by something, there would be hundreds of cases of horses being sick, kinda like the incident with the dog food a couple of years ago. Same thing with it being the water. Any horse that drank from the same water supply would be sick.

Since this was just one particular stable, it had to be something that ONLY these 24 horses were exposed to. It could be some disease going around their stable (kinda like the flu gets passes around from one family member to another). Although that is highly unlikely also. These horses are pampered and vet checked constantly. Trainers just don't use horses that even have the slightest indication that something is wrong before an event.
So, I'm thinking it had to be something they were given or exposed to between the vet check and going on the field. Could have very well been some performance enhancing drug they were given or something someone intentionally slipped them.

Whatever it was, it was something that only these horses were exposed to or there would have been a field full of dead horses. So, that eliminates a number of things.

This really interests me because I have worked for race horse trainers, broke and trained horses of my own and, many years ago, cared for a stable of Polo horses that belonged to the University of Oklahoma.

There have been many cases over the years of owner/trainers having their own horses "murdered" in various ways so they could collect the insurance money. Also, cases where a competing owner/trainer killed a horse so their horse would win.

hardamber, I also have never heard of any kind of vaccine for botulism in hay.

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 09:22 AM
My horses also always had a hay net in front of them. If I was going to a barrel racing event and they would miss their normal feeding time, I would just grain them early enough for them to digest. Fortunately, I never lost a horse, but my barrel horse gave me more than one scare. He always managed to get in areas of the barn he was NOT suppose to and get into the grain or the small fenced area I put any molded hay. That horse was too dang smart! I had to change the latches on the stalls because he figured out how to open them!

I had forgotten about that case in Australia until it was mentioned. That was terrible. It is possible these horses were exposed to something and just didn't develop any symptoms until too late and exposed other horses. If that is the case, I sure hope they find out what it is and are able to prevent it from spreading and killing other horses.

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 10:39 AM
I know this is unthinkable, but any chance of politics here? Someone down there in the states thinking that this might be a (sick) way to get back at Chavez or Venezuela?

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 11:01 AM
reply to post by Nineteen

Insurance fraud would be the best guess, if it was indeed foul play. Horses, particularly expensive ones like polo ponies, are heavily insured.

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 12:07 PM
Could be the cause.


Cantharidin can cause severe skin inflammation and blisters. It is absorbed through the intestine and can cause symptoms such as inflammation, colic, straining, elevated temperature, depression, increased heart rate and respiration, dehydration, sweating, and diarrhea. There is frequent urination during the first 24 hours after ingestion, accompanied by inflammation of the urinary tract. This irritation may also result in secondary infection and bleeding. In addition, calcium levels in horses may be drastically lowered and heart muscle tissues destroyed. Since animals can die within 72 hours, it is imperative to contact a veterinarian as soon as blister beetle poisoning is suspected.

posted on Apr, 20 2009 @ 12:17 PM
You might want to read what happened to a couple of dogs in the Houston area
before jumping to any conclusions on the horses.

It might be something in a vacine that's contributing to this sudden illness/dizzy death.

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