A 21-year-old rodeo horse is recovering from wounds sustained in an attack by a 10ft-long alligator in western Florida.

Crown was cooling off in a pond at his owner Mike Ramasanto’s farm in Newport Richey, Pasco County when the reptile is thought to have grabbed him.

The attack left the gelding with huge open wounds at the top of his back legs but he escaped without critical damage.

“The worst area was one strand of muscle about an inch around that was severed but there is no damage to the stifle or any nerves,” Mike told H&H. “The biggest thing is the loss of skin over the muscle — we’ll be treating the wounds as if they were a burn.

“He’s been doing well so far, though the heat is a bit much,” he added. “The antibiotics and the topical medications are more bothersome than anything.”

Warning: very graphic images.

The family has owned Crown since he was a three-year-old and although he had not competed for the past two years, he was in regular work with Mike’s daughter, being used for grand entry [flag bearing parades before rodeos] and sorting cows.

“Fortunately the vet said he was in excellent health, which will absolutely help in his recovery,” said Mike. “We expect him back to 100% within about 10 months. Unfortunately he won’t rodeo any more but he will be a great horse for my grandson to learn on.”

It is thought the alligator is still on the property and it has not yet been captured.

In Florida, there is a lottery system to hunt alligators — with people being awarded two or three “tags” to allow them to do so — but Mike believes it “doesn’t seem to be working” as attacks are on the increase.

Under the law, you are allowed to kill a gator on your property if it has taken livestock but otherwise you need to call a state trapper. Any gators that are over 6ft are put down.

“Attacks always go up during mating season, it’s just the attacks the last couple years have been larger alligators,” Mike said. “The alligator population in the state of Florida has blossomed in the last 20 years and while gator attacks are pretty common, gator attacks on horses are very uncommon.

“A gator will usually only take something that it knows it can drag in. Unfortunately we’ve had three gator attacks in the last 5 days here in the state. I’ve been doing this all my life and I’ve never had one attack a horse before.”

While his horses were moved to safety after the attack, there is only so much it is possible to do to protect them

“My pasture is nine acres with a pond in it, and to restrict them from the pond would be crazy in this heat,” Mike said.

“Crown has been a part of our family for 18 of his 21 years and we are doing everything we can to take care of him and to show the same love and devotion to him as he has done for us,” he said.

Continues below…



Mike has set up a gofundme page to help pay for Crown’s extensive veterinary treatment.

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.