Fourth horse lost as owners vow to get to the bottom of mystery deaths

  • The owners of three horses who died within 36 hours in mysterious circumstances have now lost a fourth, as they pledge to find out the reason for the deaths.

    Cobs Freddie and Phantom, and Shetland Mr Ed, died at the end of April. Tiny, another Shetland, was taken ill with similar symptoms a fortnight ago.

    Owner Emma* told H&H the 16-year-old gelding “hung on for about 10 days”.

    “The vets were keeping him alive, and comfortable, in case we managed to find out what had caused it and if there was an antidote but it got to the stage where even if we’d found out, we didn’t think he’d have any quality of life, so we let him go on Saturday,” she said.

    Emma said some vets – not all – believe the cause could be grass sickness, but “that just doesn’t fit”.

    Of four dogs who had also been ill, and had been walked on a bridleway bordering the horses’ field, two have since died. Emma’s own dog was ill, and dead rabbits have been found in the horses’ field.

    “And two people in the village were taken to hospital with diarrhoea, sickness, lethargy and shortness of breath,” she said. “They were tested for Covid-19 and it wasn’t that, and the vets say it’s unrelated and to stop clutching at straws. I might be, but they don’t know what it is, and these people live behind the horses’ field.

    “If I’m wrong, fine. It’s horrendous but I’d take it. But there are too many other things going on.”

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    Emma and her friend who owned Freddie have sent soil and foliage from the field for analysis, as well as bloods from Phantom and Mr Ed, while police have also sent the dead rabbits for tests, which they hope will provide some answers.

    “I feel a mixture of emotions at the moment,” Emma said. “Between disbelief, grief and anger, because we don’t know.”

    Emma has set up a fundraising page to help with the costs of the investigations.

    “I wouldn’t have done it for the vets’ fees as that would have been wrong,” she said. “But I want to raise awareness, and I’m 100% committed to find out exactly what’s happened in this village.”

    *Not her real name.

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