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Mystery of the dead horses gets to Parliament


Written Question presented to the Ministries of Health and of the Environment

The case of the sudden and unexplained deaths of 19 horses at the IHP (Italian Horse Protection) Rescue Centre, located at Tignano (Volterra), has arrived at the level of Parliament, with a Written Question presented by the Hon. Patrizia Prestipino (PD) addressed to the Ministries of Health and of the Environment.

Malicious intent? After two years and 19 horses dead, there is still no clear verdict on the cause of these deaths, meaning that malicious intent cannot be excluded. It follows that the day-to-day management of the Centre for Abused and Mistreated Equines – formally recognised by the Ministry of Health in 2009 – is in a constant state of emergency.

“We have asked the two Ministries whether they consider it appropriate to set up a filtersearch table for the close study and comparison of the multiple data already gathered by various local authorities and bodies, with the purpose of clarifying the cause, or causes, of death of the horses. This would in turn guarantee the safety and welfare of the remaining animals at the Centre”, declared the Hon. Prestipino. “We have asked the Ministries to specify what they are prepared to commit to doing, in order to give a speedy response to a nightmare that has already gone on for two years”.

The first sudden death of an otherwise perfectly healthy horse with no ongoing pathologies happened in December 2018, shortly after the Association transferred premises to its current site at Tignano. This death was followed by 18 more, with practically identical symptoms. To date, no investigation has revealed a clear cause of the deaths, which therefore remain a complete mystery. Investigations have been carried out by the Carabinieri del nucleo forestale, plus toxicological analyses of the soil and water in the pastures, autopsies and other post mortem investigations.

IHP President Sonny Richichi said “My heartfelt thanks go to the Hon. Prestipino for having brought this dramatic story to the attention of the relevant Ministries.  For far too long, the staff and volunteers at the Rescue Centre have had no clear idea how to actually protect their animals, because they don’t know what they are protecting them from, exactly. And so they live in an exhausting state of permanent emergency. This cannot just disappear into silence, we must find out what has been going on, not least for the advancement of veterinary medicine and the welfare of horses in general”.



Autopsy performed on Lady Agata gives no clues as to the cause of death (26 December 2020)

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