Random drug testing for polo ponies

WELLINGTON, FL (WFLX) - The deaths of 21 polo ponies in Wellington is now sparking safety changes involving equine supplements.

A Florida equine pharmacy improperly mixed a vitamin cocktail which was given to the horses that died.

Now, all polo ponies in our area may soon be subject to random drug testing.

That testing could begin in just months as hundreds of horses are expected here in Wellington for the start of polo season.

According to published, reports all members must now submit their horses to random blood or urine testing.

This while state and federal agencies continue to investigate the deaths.

The ponies, from the Lechuza Caracas team, collapsed back in April minutes before a big match at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington.

Within a week, authorities determined the animals received a toxic dose of a compounded vitamin supplement from Franck's Pharmacy in Ocala that had been prescribed or prepared improperly.

Necropsies showed "significantly" increased selenium levels in the horses.

Selenium is essential for normal cell function and health in animals, so small amounts are included in supplements and feed for horses.

Large doses, however, can be deadly.

This comes after the Polo Association formed a committee consisting of 21 volunteers, including veterinarians, players, trainers and owners.

The members looked over rules, safety standards and policies.

The pilot program for random testing is to begin in January.