Twenty-one horses die at International Polo Club

Posted by Rachel Leigh email

WELLINGTON, FL (WFLX) - It was supposed to be a day of some of the worlds finest polo; instead, horses began falling ill.

Polo fans were told several horses had collapsed, some were dizzy and getting worse. Sadly, it was too late to save many of them. Seven horses died at the International Polo Club, seven more died while being transported for treatment. In all, 21 horses have now died.

All of the horses were part of team Lechza Caracas. Vets believe the horses suffered a fatal reaction to vitamins, medication or perhaps some kind of insect repellent. The news traveled quickly through the tight knit equestrian community.

Laureen Capone and her two daughters, live near the Lechuza stables and came to lay flowers outside the gate as a memorial.

This is the press release from the Polo Club:

WELLINGTON, FL - The polo community and fans were saddened today at International Polo Club Palm Beach when the announcement came that horses had died prior to the start of a US Open Championship match this afternoon.

"Our hearts go out to team Lechuza Caracas and hope that a speedy answer can be obtained on what happened to their magnificent animals," said John Wash, President of Club Operations.

Lechuza Caracas, was scheduled to play a match at 3 p.m.  As they were preparing their horses for the day's competition, two collapsed and several others began exhibiting dizziness and disorientation.    Veterinarians from Palm Beach Equine, International Polo's consulting veterinarian group, and other horse related groups rushed to the scene and began treating those exhibiting symptoms.  All were removed from the International Polo Club and before that operation was complete another seven had succumb.

Consequently, the scheduled polo match was postponed and an exhibition game with a substitute team was performed to further protect the horses owned by Lechuza Caracas farm in Wellington.

The cause of death and illness has not been determined. Necropsies and other testing to determine the cause is being conducted by Kissimee Diagnostic and the State Veterinarian Dr. Mike Scott in conjunction with Palm Beach Equine.

International Polo Club Palm Beach maintains a staff of on-call veterinarians and is following the advice of its medical staff.

Polo ponies are well trained thoroughbred horses that play polo long into their mid teens.  During a game or match players take extra precautions to not over exert their animals and change horses as often as every chukker and sometimes half way through a chukker.