Does anyone have any idea what happened??

April 20, 2009

Fourteen polo ponies have collapsed and died before a top-level polo match in Wellington, Florida.

Local veterinarians arrived in force in a desperate bid to save the ailing polo ponies, but in the end 14 of the animals from the Lechuza Caracas team were left dead.

The crowd which had turned up to watch the match could only look on as veterinarians worked on the animals, putting in intravenous drips and helping the animals in whatever way they could, including trying to reduce their temperatures.

However, one by one, they died. It is understood seven died at the ground - the International Polo Club Palm Beach - and seven died while being taken to veterinary hospital for treatment. An earlier report suggested four animals were dead in their trailer on arrival at the grounds.

Reports out of the United States suggest two animals remain ill, including a mare whose condition is serious.

The Venezuelan-based team was scheduled to pay in a match against Black Watch as part of the US Open Polo Championship.

It is understood the horses began showing early signs of distress - heavy breathing and clumsiness - before leaving the Lechuza equestrian base and heading for the polo club.

Florida state veterinary authorities are analysing blood samples and post mortems will be performed on the order of state veterinarian Dr Mike Scott.

The animals are believed to have had a reaction to something and it is hoped tests, the results of which could be known as early as Tuesday next week, will reveal the cause.

The horses are understood to be collectively worth more than $US1 million.

Officials erected blue tarpaulins to shield the animals as vets worked on them.

An investigation is expected to be launched by the US Polo Association.

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OMG, can this be??

A stunned crowd watched Sunday as veterinarians tried to save polo ponies from death before the featured game of the U.S. Open polo tournament in Wellington, Fla. Fourteen horses on Venezuela's Lechuza Caracas team died before their scheduled game against Black Watch.

The horses began getting sick and collapsing about 45 minutes before game time. The horses had a reaction to a steroid derivative that may have been tainted with a cleaning solution, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported, citing unidentified sources. The sources said the injections were administered by an Argentine vet not licensed in the United States.
21 horses have died. The results came in this morning that it was poison. How they were poisoned and by what, they'll know in a couple days. Sickening, absolutely sickening.
Wendy, are they still saying it was something mixed in with the steroid shots?
No, I believe they've ruled that out. They taken blood samples so they'll be able to tell what the poison was within 24-48 hours.
Horses Cant Be Sick
Latest News Update

Deaths "unprecedented", says US Polo Association

April 21, 2009

The United States Polo Association has launched its own inquiry into the deaths of 21 polo ponies in Florida.

"This is an unprecedented equine medical event," said the association's executive director Peter Rizzo.

"We are actively working with the management of the International Polo Club of Palm Beach, state and local veterinarians and state and county regulatory agencies, including the State Department of Agriculture and Palm Beach County Department of Animal Care and Control, to determine what caused these horses to die," he said.

"While there is much speculation as to the cause of death, we will have to wait until the Department of Agriculture completes its tests and releases its findings to the owners of the horses.

"In the meantime, we all mourn the loss of these horses.

"There are no words to describe the grief and sadness shared by everyone - particularly the devastated owners of those magnificent horses."

The association said there had been much speculation and rumour over the cause of the deaths.

However, the association quoted Dr Paul Wollenman, who it said was on the scene and led a valiant rescue effort with many local veterinarians and polo players to save the stricken horses: "Based on initial, overwhelming clinical evidence this medical event was isolated to the Lechuza barn and horses and the initial evidence shows no infectious element."
More info.
Polo pony death toll climbs to 21, toxin suspected

The deaths of 21 polo ponies before a top-level polo tournament in Wellington, Florida, is now under state investigation.

The animals, collectively worth more than $US2 million, fell seriously ill as they arrived at the International Polo Club of Palm Beach to play in a fixture as part of the United States Polo Open.

Veterinarians arrived in numbers at the polo grounds to help the horses but the death toll climbed during the Sunday afternoon to 14. A further seven died overnight.

Florida agriculture commissioner Charles Bronson has ordered an investigation.

Bronson said the rapid onset of sickness and death has led state officials to suspect the deaths resulted from an adverse drug reaction or toxicity.

"At this time there is no evidence that these horses were affected with an infectious or contagious disease as there are no other horses affected at this time."

The dead horses have been taken to a Department of Agriculture laboratory in Kissimmee, Florida, and to the University of Florida Veterinary School for post mortems and toxicology testing.

It could take several days before any test results are in, or a cause of death is known.

"Obviously, this is a tragic situation and we are working hard to determine what happened," Bronson said. "But it would be irresponsible to speculate on what may have killed the horses.

"We will wait until the facts are in before making any specific comments on the case."

The state investigation involves the Agriculture Department's Division of Animal Industry, headed by the state veterinarian, and the department's Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement.

Bronson said agriculture officials will wait until test results are back before determining their next step.

The horses were part of the Venezuela-based Lechuza Caracas team, backed by Venezuelan multimillionaire businessman Victor Vargas, himself a player who reportedly pitched in to help the animals when they became ill.

The team's players are mostly Argentinian.

Its team of horses - which are understood to total about 60 - had been kept at the squad's complex near the polo stadium.

The horses were not showing any signs of illness as of Sunday morning.

When the horses were off-loaded from transporters at the event around 2pm, some of the animals were dead and the remaining horses were showing severe symptoms of depression, respiratory problems, a lack of co-ordination, and an inability to stand.

While some horses died at the scene, others died en route to equine hospitals. The remaining seven succumbed overnight.

Veterinarians have told US media that the deaths appear to have resulted from heart failure triggered by some form of toxin.

The animals were placed on intravenous drips and water was used to try to cool the animals down, without success.

It is understood that every animal that fell ill has since died.

Makeshift tarpaulins were erected around the sick animals at the ground while veterinarians tried to save them.

Meanwhile, the Lechuza Caracas team has withdrawn from the US Open Polo Championship as a result of the deaths.

The US Open Polo Championship dates back 105 years and is one of the most prestigious polo tournaments in the US.
Latest update:
Post-mortem examinations of the 21 polo ponies who died in Florida are nearly completed, with evidence of bleeding and fluid in the lungs.

However, authorities are little closer to determining what triggered the deaths, with some toxin or poison still considered the most likely cause.

Investigators will now have to wait for toxicology tests, which could be a week or more.

Post-mortem investigations on 15 of the horses were being conducted in Gainesville at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and the remaining six at Florida's Animal Diagnostic Lab in Kissimmee.

It is understood most of the examinations have been completed.

The Florida Department of Agriculture has confirmed to media that the horses examined to date had suffered bleeding in the lungs. The animals also suffered pulmonary oedema.

Pulmonary oedema is fluid buildup in the lungs that triggers respiratory failure and can be caused when the heart is unable to remove fluids from the lungs.

Investigators are reportedly following up on reports that the horses were injected with a vitamin supplement. The supplement is reported to aid recovery, as opposed to performance.

A report in the Argentine newspaper La Nacion quoted one member of the team as saying that five horses who did not receive the supplement were OK.

Authorities are confident that any medicines or supplements given to the horses would show up in toxicology screening.

The diagnostic lab in Kissimmee is also testing samples of the bedding, hay, feed and water collected from Wellington, where the horses were housed.

As well as tests on body fluids from the dead horses, testing will also be done on samples from polo ponies from the team that were unaffected.

It is understood that blood samples will be tested by the College of Veterinary Medicine's racing lab.

The polo ponies, collectively worth more than $US2 million, began falling ill shortly after arriving at the International Polo of Palm Beach grounds about 2pm on Sunday.

Within hours, 14 of the ponies belonging to the Venezuelan-based Lechuza Caracas team were dead and another seven died died overnight.

Several formal investigations are under way, including state authorities in Florida and the US Polo Association.

The polo team has said it will assist formal investigations in any way possible.

The Lechuza Caracas team is owned by Venezuelan multimillionaire Victor Vargas.


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