14 polo horses die at tournament

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The Independent US

Vets were waiting for test results today to find out why at least 14 polo horses fell ill and died in a short time before their match at a Florida tournament.

The horses from the Venezuela-based Lechuza Caracas team were being unloaded from their trailers yesterday afternoon when two of them collapsed and others acted dizzy and disoriented, according to a statement from the International Polo Club Palm Beach.



"They started getting dizzy," polo club spokesman Tim O'Connor told The Palm Beach Post. "They dropped down right onto the grass."



Veterinarians already at the event quickly tried treating the horses, inserting intravenous lines and trying to cool them down with fans and water. Observers hung blue tarps to shield some of the horses from the crowd's view.



Seven of the horses died on the polo club's grounds and the rest died after they were taken elsewhere.



The match in the US Open Polo Championship was postponed and an exhibition game with a substitute team was held in its place.



The carcasses of at least 14 horses were taken to a state agricultural laboratory for necropsies to learn the causes of their deaths.



"It could be the water, hay, bedding. We just don't know. When we find out what it is, we will take all the necessary actions," John Wash, the polo club's president of club operations, told the newspaper.



The polo grounds in Wellington, a wealthy equestrian and golfing community in central Palm Beach County, hosts the US Open every year.

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