Sudden Death of Horses
Italian Horse Protection Investigates
(Update 1)

This is a short followup to what is happening at the Italian Horse Protection Association Rescue Center in Italy.
Earlier this year (2019) the IHP found itself in the grip of a tragic crisis. The organisation suffered the loss of 9 horses by a sudden and unknown problem or sabotage that ended the lives of those beloved equines in a matter of minutes, one after the other.

Article written by Jonathan Fleming.

Founder Sonny Richichi, ensured toxicology tests were carried out, veterinarian tests were executed, post mortems were underway, soil sampling was done, field water was tested and more, but none have delivered any answers to the mysterious deaths.

The medical report of the post mortem carried out on the ninth horse, which died on 21 February, was released on 18 March, one and a half months following the 8 other deaths that occurred between 31 December and 3 January. The investigations carried out by the Pisa Istituto Zooprofilattico Lazio & Toscana did not reveal any precise cause of death, though did note abnormal lesions in the trachea and bronchial passages, and some heart lesions, but nothing which could directly indicate the cause of such a sudden death. Numerous toxic substances were tested, as well as bacterial and viral infections, plus analysis of hay, but again, all proved negative.
This means that many potential causes have been eliminated without throwing any light on the actual cause of death.

The Pisa laboratory is currently carrying out a series of tests on the samples from the 8 horses that died in close succession, hoping to identify something of a cause. These samples, initially frozen and held by the University of Bologna and the Istituto Zooprofilattico of Bologna (where the autopsies were carried out) will now be sent to Pisa. This move was agreed at a meeting of the Director of the Unità Operativa Sanità Animale, ASL Toscana Nordovest, the Director of the Ministry of Health Animal Welfare Office, the Regione Toscana ‘allevamenti e igiene urbana veterinaria’ and the Direttore Sanitario of the Istituto Zooprofilattico Lazio and Toscana. During that meeting, other decisions were made, in particular, it was considered both necessary and urgent to alert ARPAT (Agenzia regionale per la protezone ambientale della Toscana) in order to ascertain the presence or otherwise of contamination; in addition a more detailed gathering and coordinating of data was requested, including data from other tests, analyses and blood samples from 25 horses, together with hay, feed and water samples.

To date nothing is known about the analyses of selenium and vitamin E levels, nothing is yet known about the analysis of the water available to the horses, and there is no news regarding any findings from ARPAT which monitors the state of the environment; carries out checks on the sources of pollution and the resulting impacts, dealing with the identification and prevention of risk factors for environmental and human health.

“This is an unacceptable situation,'' commented Sonny Richichi, President of IHP. “It leaves us both perplexed and bewildered, especially when we read in the local press that the authorities are thinking of closing the investigation. For this reason we have decided that, in addition to writing the nth request for information to the local health authorities, we have decided to present a detailed complaint to the Pisa Prosecutor’s office (who have already opened a file on this case of the mysterious death of the horses) detailing the facts of this affair, reconstructing step by step what has been witnessed by many who were physically present, or who have furnished us with relevant information. We can never accept that the death of 8 horses, whose demise has been cleared of any deliberate poisoning by the authorities themselves, should be dismissed without explanation. Not least because this situation is damaging the Association, which has been obliged for over two months to set up a crisis management of the horses, difficult for the staff and the animals, given that we are afraid to let them out into the pastures or to drink the water. This situation is draining all our resources, with heavy consequences for the association. Our work is to report mistreatment, investigate illegal goings-on which exploit horses, to rescue equids who are suffering appalling conditions – work which IHP has been carrying out for over 10 years in all of Italy. We are now seriously limited by not knowing what has killed our horses, and could kill more. We are waiting for concrete answers.”

Do you think you can offer any answers or suggestions that the Italian Horse Protection could look into for their investigation? If you can, please contact IHP (live links are in the footnote of this page).
You can drop an email to Compose and send an email now
Or contact them through their Facebook account
Or through their Twitter account

You can find our previous articles about this worthy nonprofit at these links which are given in order of release:
1. Neglect of Italian Horses
2. IHP - On The Move
3. Sudden Death of Horses
And now there is a further update continuing the saga
4. (Update 2) Sudden Death of Horses

This is a CNF Feature Article

This page is embeddable, click for code
Head/Cover picture by: Head image by: IHP (
Head/Cover image description: Over two months on and the horses are still penned in and unable to roam free in all that beautiful Tuscan land.
Article written by: Jonathan Fleming
Article edited by: Charity Needs Foundation
Article Length: Words count is 923 from 5654 characters
Released — 29-03-2019 @ 04:29
Modified — 29-03-2019 @ 12:29 - Added explanation of what ARPAT does and a link to it in the footnotes.
Modified — 19-11-2019 @ 19:04 - Added link in article and footnotes to a further update continuing the saga.


  • ARPAT:
    ARPAT monitors the state of the environment; carries out checks on the sources of pollution and the resulting impacts, dealing with the identification and prevention of risk factors for environmental and human health.

  • Donations:
    Send donations direct to IHP through their PayPal account: IHP PayPal Account
    Your donation will help to suvive this misfortune

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