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Police are investigating whether a Thoroughbred stallion at a stud in Cornwall was deliberately let out of his stable, after which he caused fatal injuries to another of the stud’s stallions.

The incident happened in the early hours of the morning on Saturday, 12 March at the Sporting Horse Stud in Delabole. An intruder is believed to have lifted a door off its hinges, allowing the Thoroughbred Devil’s Jump (“DJ”) to escape. A warmblood stallion, Amerigo Vespucci (“Meri”), then broke out and the pair fought.

“DJ’s door, which is 10ft long and made of heavy wood, had been lifted off its hinges,” said stud owner Marilyn Pilgrim, who checked the horses at 1am. “He did not kick it off by being cast — there were no marks.

“Meri was the alpha stallion here — he loses his rag if he knows other horses are about and wouldn’t have stood for DJ wandering about. He broke out of his stable — we had a bar across the top of it but you can’t realistically keep an angry stallion in.

“We think Meri chased DJ through the gate because he’s crushed his tendon sheath. DJ kicked Meri and broke his hindleg above the hock — bits of bone were sticking out.”

The following morning, the postman discovered the Thoroughbred in the yard and the warmblood on a roadside verge, bleeding badly from a wound. Sadly, vets could not save Meri, while DJ was hospitalised for nearly three weeks.

“We called the police because the whole thing didn’t feel right,” said Marilyn. “A neighbour who lives 50ft from the yard was away for the night, but she normally hears anything. My husband was away driving an HGV — it’s strange that it should happen that same night.”

A police spokesman said the investigation was ongoing, and that a number of other incidents, such as opened gates and missing rugs, have been reported in the area recently.

If anyone has any information, contact Devon and Cornwall Police (tel: 08705 777444; PC Serris, number 6238).

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (21 April, ’05)

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