Owner’s warning after two horses die from acorn poisoning

  • The owner of two horses who died from acorn poisoning – while another remains in veterinary hospital – wants to warn fellow owners of the potential risk to their horses.

    Linda Savage’s warmblood Juno was found dead in his field in Kent last Wednesday (13 September). Her pony Merlin had to be put down the following evening and her cob Rocky was taken into hospital in the early hours of Friday morning.

    Vets fought hard to save Rocky all weekend and his condition has vastly improved, but Linda wants to warn others of the “insidious” poisoning that took her other horses.

    “It’s been an absolute nightmare,” she told H&H. “You can’t imagine how bad it is until you see it.”

    Linda said Juno was found lying down by a young girl.

    “She saw him lying down and went over for a cuddle,” she added. “It was only when she went to put his head in her lap that she realised he was dead.

    “We got the others in and I realised Rocky wasn’t quite right either so I called the vet.”

    Linda said the vet gave Rocky an injection, which seemed to have an effect, but by the next morning, her pony Merlin also looked ill.

    Despite the vet’s best efforts, Merlin’s condition worsened.

    “By tea time, I knew,” Linda said. “He was just lying there, looking at me, and I knew he was dying. I said we had to put him out of his misery and he went very quietly.”

    Late that night, Rocky also took a turn for the worse and he was taken to Bell Equine clinic.

    “The vets phoned at 2.30am and said they didn’t think he’d make it though the night,” Linda said. “They were just getting through every hour and when I went to see him on Saturday, he was just lying there; he had the most dreadful diarrhoea, ice bags on his feet as he had a raging temperature and they were worried about laminitis, a heart rate of 100.

    “On Sunday morning, I thought I’d have to have him put down but when I got there, he was on his feet and he just put his head on my chest.”

    Rocky improved and although he was then found to have a blood clot on his neck, Linda said the vets are hopeful he will recover.

    She was full of praise for the Bell staff, her own practice Milbourn Equine and her livery yard.

    “Everyone at the yard – staff and the other liveries – has been absolutely marvellous, they couldn’t have done anything more,” she said.

    “I’ve thought before it would be nice to have my own place but something like this happens and I thought: ‘thank god I’m here’. They were up all night, they took Rocky in to Bell, everyone was brilliant.”

    Linda said her horses have been kept at the yard for years and that neither they nor any others have ever been affected by acorns, including all the others currently living in the same fields.

    “I don’t know if it’s worse because lots of green acorns have blown down this year,” she said. “Mine live out all the time too; they weren’t coming in or having feeds.

    “As soon as the acorns are there in future, mine are coming in, this isn’t going to happen again.

    “I was unlucky but I want to make sure everyone is aware what a truly awful thing this is.”

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