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Mystery of the dead horses, IHP: “Autopsy performed on Lady Agata gives no clues as to the cause of death”


An autopsy performed on Lady Agata has not revealed any clear and definitive cause of death. The mare was the most recent horse to die suddenly at the IHP Rescue Centre located at Tignano, Volterra. To date, therefore, there is no explanation for the deaths of 19 horses at the Centre since December 2018. The autopsy on Lady Agata was carried out by Professor Carlo Cantile, specialist in Veterinary Pathological Anatomy, vice Director of the department of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Pisa.

“I performed an autopsy on Lady Agata just a few hours after her death, and found a laceration of the aortic arch which had caused a substantial influx of blood into the pericardial sac, which blocked the action of the heart, thereby causing death”, Cantile explains. “Further histological investigations are required to establish whether there were any changes in the artery walls which would have caused a predisposition to tearing.”

Professor Cantile also performed the autopsies on Sugar, who died on 18 October 2020, and Ola, who died on 17 November 2020, both in a very similar manner. Ola had an intestinal inflammation, and Sugar presented signs of bilateral atrioventricular insufficiency. In Prof Cantile’s opinion, neither of these cases would be “sufficient to explain their sudden deaths”.

Cantile concludes, “To date we cannot exclude deliberate lethal doses of a poisonous substance or drug, given the rapidity of the deaths of otherwise healthy horses. Further analyses and investigations are essential”.

Sonny Richichi, President of IHP, adds: “The sudden deaths of 19 horses at our Centre over the past two years are proving to be a riddle for the scientific community as well as for us. We fervently hope that with the world-renowned expert Professor Carlo Cantile heading the scientific investigations,we can finally shed light on this matter, both to guarantee the ongoing safety of the animals at the Rescue Centre, and to identify anyone deliberately responsible for these deaths, and bring them to justice”.



IHP, another horse dies at the Tignano rescue Centre (19 December 2020)

IHP, sudden death of a mare. There have been 18 cases since 2018 (17November 2020)

IHP: three horses dead at the Tignano rescue Centre (April 2020)

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

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