Suspicions Confirmed About Hoof Problems, Emergency Preserve for Horses Desperately Needed

Both Dr. Gary Garcia, DVM, and Mr. Marc Paulhus, former Director of the Equine Protection Division of the Humane Society of the United States contributed disturbing evaluations to the most recent proposal presented to the Government of the Bahamas.

Included in the Proposal for a Provisional Emergency Preserve for the horses, both evaluations confirmed suspicions about the causes of the horses' growing hoof health problems, and the fact that no foals have been born since Hurricane Floyd.

Hurricane Floyd blocked most of the horses' trails in the forest with fallen trees. The horses moved back onto the citrus farm where their immediate ancestors were rescued after the slaughter of the 60's.

According to Dr. Garcia, "At this point the horses are in grave danger of causing their own extinction. With the prior suspected losses as a result of humans and wild dogs, they now have placed themselves in a dire situation. As of my visit on October 27, 2001, there were sixteen horses remaining. My general assessment is that the lush grasses within the orange groves have caused the majority of the herd to become obese, this leading to the occurrence of laminitis and in some more recent cases a more debilitating toxic laminitis or "founder." Another contributing factor may also be toxic weeds among the grasses." [One mare, Atria, died last spring from toxic laminitis] for two photos comparing the two habitats, click here, download time about 10 seconds on a 28 modem.

Marc Paulhus offers the following insights: "Ranging almost exclusively on property maintained for agricultural purposes by the Bahama Star Farm, the horses are no longer roaming freely over their original habitat. The area they now occupy presents certain dangers that may account for the dramatically reduced live foal birth rates noticed in recent years, as well as high mortality among the remaining adult horses and especially their offspring. They now exist largely within intensely maintained citrus groves and are therefore exposed to agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. While the consequences of exposure to these chemicals are not fully established, it appears likely that such exposure may have a serious deleterious effect over time. Also, the heavy use of fertilizers deemed appropriate for the primary agricultural purposes on the farm, nevertheless produces overly rich forage for the horses that may very well be a factor leading to noted instances of obesity and nutritionally induced lameness (laminitis).


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