Polo Pony Tragedy in Wellington

By now just about everyone has read about the 21 polo ponies that died in Wellington, Fla. (some reports now have the death toll at 23).

The ponies, all members of the Lechuza Caracaus polo team, had been scheduled to play in a match on Sunday at the U.S. Open Polo Championship, a 105-year-old tournament that bills itself as the oldest such event in the United States, and which is considered to be the most prestigious in the nation. The remaining ponies on the Lechuza Caracaus team, those scheduled not to play, so far are still fine.

According to reports, the horses began to show signs of illness — breathing heavily and stumbling — at their stable, before they were brought to the polo club. Once they arrived, the horses appeared disoriented and dizzy, their lungs filled will fluid and they succumbed to cardiac arrest.Vets suspect a reaction to a toxin although it is unclear how they were exposed. Feed, bedding and supplements will be examined. Since there are no drug restrictions for polo ponies in the US (in Europe, anabolic steroid use is banned) veterinarians performing necropsies will also look for signs of  drugs — tainted or otherwise. To have so many horses from one team die so suddenly and virtually simultaneously while the remaining team horses remain healthy, makes it seem more likely that these horses might have been injected with a toxin. Results from the necropsies are expected by the end of the week.

Having watched my own horse go down with an undiagnosed illness last year I can’t imagine the heartbreak of seeing a team of polo ponies collapse and die. It must have been a heartbreaking scene.

7 thoughts on “Polo Pony Tragedy in Wellington

  1. Terrible. A real tragedy. Just this last weekend, The University of Virginia Polo team lost a pony and the opposing team also lost one, both within five minutes.
    Each was it’s team’s favorite.
    I’m starting to wonder whether polo is safe for horses.
    I wonder how long it will be before they know what happened in Wellington?

  2. I hadn’t heard either…such grief. Heartbreaking. I hope for the sake of humanity (and the safety of the animal kingdom) the cause will be found to be non-human induced.

  3. Liz, just now visiting your blog for the first time. Wonderful work. Good insight on the polo ponies story, a little education and a personal touch. Well done. Will keep an eye on your AWARD-winning work. (congrats.) Heidi

  4. Your being such sissy’s it was a mistake things happen. I know its sad and all but move on people its not like the worlds gonna end but if my polo pony was one of those 21 I would be angry and sad.

  5. Let’s get down to the real unfortunate economics. Polo has a lot of tradition and MONEY behind it. It’s obvious someone didn’t want the horses playing. Just so happens the ponies that we’re scheduled to play were all fine??? Come on, let’s get real. Someone poisoned them and someone paid to get it done. Who did it is the question? End of story.

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