...my treasures do not sparkle they clink,
they shine in the sun and neigh in the night...



Sudden death of horses: the search for the reason continues. National protocol


Many institutions are cooperating on a multidisciplinary level. IHP: constructive comparisons for the common good.

A technical committee was convened on Friday 20 December, and met at the Pisa Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Lazio e della Toscana, with the purpose of an in-depth study of the results of analyses carried out on the most recent three horses which died suddenly between 17 and 22 October of this year, at the Rescue Centre run by IHP (Italian Horse Protection Onlus). These three deaths follow earlier incidences of unexplained sudden deaths this year – eight in January, one in February and one in July, making a total of thirteen. All are deaths with no explanation.
Representatives of IZSLT and ASL, among whom Rosario Fico, Head of Centro di Medicina Nazionale Forense Veterinaria, examined the case so far, in a situation of as yet very unclear clinical evidence. They launched a new phase of the enquiry together with the veterinary surgeon of the Rescue Centre and other experts, contributing in the fields of toxicology, chemistry and botany. Also still involved in the ongoing case are the Carabienieri Forestali, since foul play has not yet been excluded. In addition, there has recently been a Ministry of Health instruction requiring all national public veterinary services to intervene as a matter of urgency, should any similar cases occur anywhere within the whole country.

“Friday’s meeting was positive and proactive. We have requested a meeting with all the public bodies who have been looking into the sudden and unexplained deaths of the horses for almost a year now, to share all the information available to date, and to set up a multidisciplinary group, including all professional bodies willing to help us”, said Sonny Richichi, President of IHP and coordinator at the Rescue Centre in Volterra. “In spite of modern analyses being so accurate, so far it has not been possible to identify the cause of death of these horses. The most recent spate of cases in October, made us even more determined to probe deep into the cause of these deaths, to examine the facts from all possible angles, and to seek help and advice in as many areas as possible, in order to analyse what has happened over the past year from all possible clinical angles.”

The willingness of the institutions to continue their scientific investigations is very much there: there is the calling of the technical committee requested by IHP, the controlled management of the Rescue Centre horses, where shortly there will be research into the botanical examination of the area, the involvement of the canine anti-poisoning sector of the Carabinieri, and the monitoring of a group of horses which will be a control group.

We add to this very positive meeting a decision by the Ministero della Salute which has recently published a national protocol of action following similar cases, a direct follow-on from another request put forward by IHP recently, and in full concordance with its own policy on equine welfare: to create a service available to all horse owners who might, in the future, find themselves in the difficult situation of confronting the sudden death of one or more of their own animals. “They have told us,” Richichi adds, “that the case will be open to all relevant cases which occur within the next phases of enquiry. The 31st of December marks the date of the first sudden death of a horse, which happened before our very eyes. Our grief will be with us forever, but for our Association what is most important is that a negative experience like this, the deaths of so many horses we loved, should be transformed into a body of knowledge and support for the common good and for equids everywhere".


Preliminary results autopsies three horses who died in October (5 November 2019)

Volterra, the tragedy continues

Another two horses die at the IHP Rescue Centre (19 October 2019)

Sudden death of horses: IHP lodges a complaint

Another horse died at IHP Rescue centre

Sudden death of 8 horses at the IHP Rescue center