Dr. Don Moore responds to spin of 2 National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board Members


(It doesn’t look like Dr. Leon Pielstick has put on the sterile sleeve yet in the photo above.)

Below we’ve posted:                                                                                                                                                                                                              1) the comment Don Moore, DVM to BLM on their barbaric plan to sterilize wild mares.   2) the response to this from two National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board members – Sue McDonnell (NOT a vet) and Julie Weikel, DVM.   3) Dr, Don Moore’s response to their response.

Here is a copy of Dr. Don Moore’s original comment to the BLM regarding wild mare sterilization experimentation:

Attention Project Lead:

BLM stated it was “investing in a diverse portfolio of research projects to develop new, modern technologies and methods for wild horse and burro management”.   BLM is looking to improve existing population growth suppression methods or develop new methods according to the environmental assessment.  However, BLM does not need to investigate the safety and efficacy of three separate methods of surgical sterilization of wild horse mares.  These three methods have been performed on domestic mares and discounted as a last and least preferred method to manage hormonal issues.

The three surgical procedures for permanent sterilization of mares described in the mare sterilization research project, ovariectomy via colopotomy, tubal ligation and hysteroscopically-guided laser ablation of the oviduct papilla all require certain pre-operative and post-operative considerations  for aseptic surgical protocol and pain management.  Pre-operative bloodwork and a thorough examination are always performed on the relatively few domestic mares which are spayed.  Other options other than surgery are always considered first due to the risk involved with any of these procedures.   Aseptic surgical protocol and pain management is the standard of care for each and every surgery or the performing veterinarian would undoubtedly be sued by the owner and reprimanded by the state veterinary board.

Wild mares will not have their surgeries performed in a sterile surgical suite.  Their surgery will be performed in a non-sterile chute or standing in stocks at the local BLM facility without benefit of routine standard of care.   Unlike domestic mares who are easily handled, the very handling of these wild mares presents additional pre-operative stressors, which cannot be mitigated.

BLM does not possess the statutory authority to treat America’s wild free roaming mares as research test subjects to perform  surgeries which are not the standard of care for domestic mares.

Case in point, is a photograph of Dr. Leon Pielstick as he was beginning to perform a surgery attired in bibs used predominately for working cattle and performing the surgery with a non-sterile plastic sleeve that is used to pregnancy check cattle.  This is not acceptable for a domestic mare, why wild mares?  To learn this procedures has been performed on some of the Sheldon wild mares, undoubtedly in a similar manner, is gross negligence and inhumane on the part of the Department of Interior and the veterinarians who performed the surgery in less than aseptic conditions.

This type of trial and error butchery is a violation of the least feasible management clause of the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

In private practice, colopotomy is considered an inferior procedure with likelihood of post-surgical infections and complications (i.e., colic) especially during these unsterile conditions.  Post-operative care usually lasts several days to often weeks and mares are monitored and in most cases are monitored in box stalls or cross ties, which cannot be accomplished with wild mares. Post- operative bleeding is a situation which cannot be easily remedied even in domestic mares.

Standard of care for tubal ligation and/or ovariectomy is performed under aseptic conditions with a laparoscope and pain mitigation along with private confinement and treatment which can last days to weeks.  Complications can also be colic, infection and pain mitigation is required.

Hysteroscopically guided laser ablation is not a preferred method by board certified equine surgeons because it is considered experimental even under the best of conditions.  Field veterinarians and veterinary students are woefully inadequate to perform any of these surgeries, which in my opinion should only be done by board certified equine surgeons in appropriate surgical suites and with post- operative care performed by educated and expert staff in an equine veterinary hospital setting.

In recent conversations with Littleton Equine Medical Center veterinarians Scott Toppin, DVM, DABVP and Kelly Tisher DVM the following comments were made to me.

Dr. Toppin stated he had serious concerns about the dangerous and inhumane conditions under which these surgeries would be performed. He also stated concerns about the sterility of the procedure and pre and post-operative pain control.

Dr. Tisher shared that their practice equine surgeon,  Dustin V. Devine DVM, MS DACVS, performs  approximately six to twelve of these surgeries with a laparoscope annually.  Littleton Equine is the leading equine veterinary private practice in Colorado.

Mass experimental surgeries performed under these conditions outlined in the proposal, amounts to negligence and abuse.   I believe experiments such as this proposal are unethical, inhumane and unwarranted.   Any veterinarian(s) who would perform these experiments is in violation of the oath taken as a graduating veterinarian, “above all else, do no harm”.  If a veterinarian in private practice performed these procedures in the manner described in this document they would most certainly be reported to and disciplined by the regulatory board of that state.  Discipline would likely mean suspension of that veterinarian’s license to practice in that state.

All horses should be judged the same when it concerns care.  Elective, unethical treatment should not be performed on  either domestic horses or wild horses.   BLM gives the impression that all wild horse areas are overpopulated, when in fact, most wild horse areas do not have a genetically sustainable population without intervention.  This is due to over manipulation of herds to promote adoption, decreasing original herd use areas and allowing livestock to over graze our public lands.  Once again, BLM is exceeding the statutory authority granted by Congress in the management of our wild horses.

Since the inception of the WHBA, BLM has practiced a management for extinction policy. It is ever so clear in the “experimental research policy” BLM is now proposing.


Donald E. Moore, D.V.M


Comments by Sue McDonnell (who is NOT a vet) and Julie Weikel of BLM’s National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board to an advocate who sent an email with link to an article by Debbie Coffey and Dr. Don Moore’s comment to the BLM:

BLM and Fish & Wildlife Service Experimenting on Wild Horses

Responses from Sue McDonnell and Dr. Weikel:

McDonnell, Sue <suemcd@vet.upenn.edu>


Julie Weikel R. E. Cope pielstick@gmail.com

Apr 1 at 7:05 PM

Thank you for the link.  That is very helpful. I trust that you want the information you circulate to be accurate, so I will share what I know.

I work with people who do this procedure in a world class equine vet hospital where I work, the University of Pennsylvania New Bolton Center. I have had ovariectomy via colpotomy done on my own research and clinical mares, and i find it a relatively non invasive procedure for ovariectomy.  I should explain a couple things that you may understandably misunderstand about the procedure.

You mention the rectal palpation sleeve and implicate it as unsatisfactory because it is used also with cattle.  The photo shows what to me looks like a sterile glove over the palpation sleeve. That is how it is done for ovariectomy via colpotomy on a farm or in a clinic or at a vet school hospital for horses. Using the clean (or sterile, Probably can’t tell for sure by photo alone) sleeve and sterile glove, all surfaces (typically only the sterile glove) that contact  internal abdomen of the patient that should be kept free of “germs” are sterile. The sleeve is used as additional coverage that is very clean if not sterile as added protection. The bibs are not relevant, really, and they could be very clean, but it doesn’t matter much since they don’t touch the internal abdomen of the patient.

I will copy the veterinarians on the board, Dr. Cope and Dr. Weikel, to comment if they have time and can add to my comments. Believe it or not, out in the open air can in many cases can be a “cleaner” environment in terms of infection for colpotomy than inside a hospital, where germs and resistant strains tend to accumulate.  If the outdoor area is dusty there would be concerns.  Veterinarians are usually doing their best to protect the animal patient.  I am not a vet, but have worked professionally with veterinarians in a vet school for over 35 years, and have found very few veterinarians who don’t try their best in this regard. I hear Dr. Moore’s concerns, and have not worked with Dr. Pielstick myself, but trust he is doing his best, which looks from your photos to be as good as here at a world class vet hospital or at other fine vet clinics.

I hope this is helpful. Please let me know what you think.

Sue McDonnell
Julie Weikel <jweikeldvm@yahoo.com>


McDonnell, Sue


R. E. Cope pielstick@gmail.com

Apr 1 at 8:30 PM

Thank you Dr. McDonnell for a very thorough coverage of (name redacted) concerns. I concur with all the points you make and add that dust management is routinely addressed during these procedures. I would also add that long term pain management and long term antibiotics are also routine for this procedure.

Certainly any handling of wild horses is stressful for them. However, the goal with these procedures is to achieve population stabilization so that further gathers are greatly reduced and bands can be left undisturbed, thus reducing total lifetime stressful events.

Julie Weikel DVM


And Dr. Don Moore’s response to these comments by Sue McDonnell and Julie Weikel :

The University of Pennsylvania New Bolton Center is no doubt a fine surgery facility.  I am also certain that surgeons at the New Bolton Center operate in surgical suites that are properly vented and sterilized, and for Dr. McDonnell to suggest anything less is to insult the very facility she is works for.

It has been my experience at Colorado State University that surgeons as well as veterinary student observers in the suite, were routinely in sterile, long sleeved surgical gowns and gloves. They also wear surgical masks and caps.  This is the same protocol used by the excellent private practice facility I spoke with when researching these procedures. Standard of care dictates this diligent surgical preparation of the patient and surgical suite.

To suggest a “clean” sleeve is acceptable for abdominal surgery is ridiculous.   Aseptic conditions are the required standard of care for any abdominal surgery and the equine patient is more susceptible to peritonitis than any other species that veterinarians deal with.  To suggest an outdoor “facility” used by BLM could be a better choice than any properly equipped surgical suite is ludicrous.  Academia and research facilities are no longer exempt from good standard of care.

Again, for BLM and the Advisory Board to propose this type of mass experimental surgery under the conditions outlined in the proposal, amounts to negligence and abuse. 

To accept this mass butchery by BLM under the guise of research is inconceivable in a civilized society and to apologize for it suggests a complete misunderstanding of the ethics we as veterinarians pledge to adhere to.

 For BLM to promote that there is over population of wild horses on public lands is without merit.  Most wild horse areas are managed at levels below what is needed for self-sustaining, genetically viable numbers.  Many wild horse areas, such as the Little Bookcliffs (which has long utilized PZP), still need to have additional animals introduced to avoid inbreeding.  The Advisory Board would best focus research efforts to change the current BLM management practice of managing wild horses in significantly smaller subsets of original herd use areas that cannot physically allow for genetically viable, self-sustaining herds.   The next focus should be proper management of the domestic species that are causing range degradation.

Donald E. Moore, D.V.M.

How many wild mares have died from BLM’s sterilization experiments?


Leon Pielstick, DVM, performing a colpotomy

Since the public wants to comment on the BLM’s plans for continued brutal sterilization experiments on wild mares at the upcoming National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board meeting, I’m re-posting an article from 2013 with 24 pages of FOIA documents under it.  Page #22 is an email from Leon Pielstick, and has information on the year, the number of wild mares that received the experiments, the complications and the number of deaths.  A few of the FOIA records below indicate:

2007 – was the Pilot study, 33 mares were spayed.  2 died (6% mortality)

Sept. 2009 – 41 mares were spayed, complication rate 2.7%,.  Pielstick claimed there were no deaths, but the mares were only observed in corrals for 24-48 hours before being released back into the wild.  (this skewed the data and left no reliable information regarding post surgical complications and deaths).  In July 2010 (11 months later) the BLM incidentally spotted about half of the spayed wild mares during a pronghorn survey).  But what happened to the other half?

Jan. 2010 – 8 mares were spayed by Leon Pielstick at the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown, CA

This only includes information on a few experiments.  There have been many more experiments on our wild horses and burros.

BLM and Fish & Wildlife Service Experimenting on wild horses

By Debbie Coffey           Copyright 2013          All Rights Reserved.

(If you missed Part 1, click here)

This article includes documented information obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the BLM, on the field spaying of mares, vasectomies and chemical vasectomies, so that the public can learn more about the experimentation on feral (and wild) horses.

The “Sheldon horses and burros” are on the Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex, and are designated as “feral.”  Feral horses are not protected by the Wild Free-Roaming Horses & Burros Act of 1971.  (Wild horses are barely protected by this act, either.)

The BLM is partnering with Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), another Department of the Interior agency, and field spaying and vasectomies will likely be discussed at the upcoming BLM National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board meeting Sept. 9-11 in Arlington, Virginia.

What you’ll see in the documents at the bottom of this article seem to indicate that there has been experimentation without properly planned protocols (which should’ve included having medication at the site in case of an adverse reaction to any drugs) and with haphazard (if any at all) monitoring after the procedures.  It seems as if the BLM is fishing for “inferences” to push these FWS experiments as a “tool in their toolbox” for population control of wild horses.

BLM should be doing ON THE RANGE MANAGEMENT OF VIABLE HERDS.  Most herds are NOT viable.  Stay on this point:  Should BLM even be doing population control/fertility control on NON-VIABLE HERDS?

It is important to note that the Fish & Wildlife Service has been field spaying PREGNANT mares, in different trimesters of pregnancy.  Mares that are NOT pregnant are called “open.”  In a 6/15/2009 e-mail that Brian Day (FWS) sent to Paul Steblein, Rob Bundy and Gail Collins of the FWS, he said if he “remembered correctly,” during the 1st trimester (less than 112 days), the “disturbance generally causes the re-absorbtion of the fetus.”  During the 2nd trimester (112-224 days) the spaying may “cause abortion.”  And in the 3rd trimester (225-335 days) the fetus/foal “likely completes term.”

However, was this information based on feral and wild mares or only domestic mares?  Was this information based only on Peilstick’s studies?  What studies were done on foal survival if the mares weren’t being monitored after the procedure (to know how many foals were born or died in the wild?)  Seeing a few foals alive from an aerial survey and assuming all of the foals survived is not a scientific approach.

I’ve posted the links to 24 FOIA documents at the bottom of this article.   Here are a few highlights and comments:

1)     In a 7/28/2008 e-mail from Paul Steblein, who was then the Project Leader of the Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex, to Leon Pielstick (the veterinarian noted in Part 1), Gail Collins (FWS, who has also been attending the BLM’s Modoc/Washoe Experimental Stewardship Program meetings in northern CA), Brian Day (FWS) and Rob Bundy (FWS) stating that ovariectomies would cost $200 (with 4 hours next to this cost).

However, in Part 1 of this series, the presentation by Leon Pielstick claimed that colpotomies took less than 5 minutes of surgery time, and “about 15 minutes for restraint, sedation, prep AND procedure.”   It also seems to only take about 5 minutes to apply a freezemark.  So how does 20 minutes add up to 4 hours?

This e-mail also notes that the mares and studs would be turned out immediately after procedure, because there would be “less chance of antagonistic interactions.”  (You might wonder if the mares might also have been turned out to avoid/skew negative data about the procedure.)

2)    In a 7/16/2008 e-mail from Paul Steblein to the same FWS employees above, Steblein noted that in a contraception study (most likely the one done in 2007) there were 2 fatalities from the ovariectomy procedure out of 35 mares.  (However, it seems Steiblein’s information was incorrect, because in Leon Pielstick’s 2010 Proposal for Collaborative Research Effort/Grant application, Pielstick stated that he spayed 33 mares with 2 fatalities in 2007.)

Steiblein noted that Pielstick thinks he can reduce mortality by abandoning the procedure if he “encounters uncertainties” for example, if he can’t be sure the organ he is feeling is an ovary or just stool in the colon.

Stublein noted that there is “greater emotional risk of public with sterilizing mares versus studs.”   (What is “emotional risk,” anyhow?  Taxpayers getting fed up with money being wasted on Dr. Mengele type experiments?)

He also noted “there are always biases in data.”  (We can see that.)

3)    In a 10/21/09 e-mail Ms. Gail Collins (FWS) sent to Dean Bolstad, then Deputy Division Chief of the Wild Horse & Burro Program, answering some questions he had asked about their horse sterilization program.  The answer to #2 states they (FWS) “don’t track bands as they come into the trap, so we don’t have a definitive way of identifying the lead studs.”  She then noted that in an aerial survey, that there were studs they were unable to identify from the air as sterilized studs.  In answer #4 she noted the aerial surveys were to monitor wildlife, and they were limited by funding and personnel.

(A year later in an 8/17/2010 e-mail from Collins to Bolstad, she noted that “We have no data directly investigating the mortalities after the mares were released.  In July 2010 we incidentally observed about half of the spayed mares during our annual pronghorn survey…However, it is important to note that horses were not the primary focus of that effort, and we were not specifically looking for the sterilized individuals.)

Collins also noted mares were kept in corrals for 24-48 hours after they were spayed, and were then released.  She stated “There has been no direct monitoring of the mares since their release.”  She gave the details about the arrow brands used for monitoring the horses:  the arrow points towards the tail of spayed mares, the arrow points up for vasectomized studs and the arrow points down for geldings.

There is also an e-mail from Stublein to Dean Bolstad, telling Bolstad he was pleased with “the emergence of an interagency partnership.” Stublein then seemed to stress “As I mentioned last week, this is a working experiment versus research project dues to lack of staff and funds.”  (So, Dean Bolstad was aware the word “experiment” was used.)

4)    In a 10/22/2009 e-mail from Dean Bolstad to Gail Collins, he states “I know this isn’t a research project” and asks if “maybe inferences can be made” about the data on spayed mares.  Bolstad then noted “I’m not sure how you could measure this at this point in your work unless you were able to count surviving mares in the field.  It would be pretty hard considering the difficulty of reading your arrows and the expanse of the country they live in.”

Gail Collins answered that “While it is not ideal” they made some inferences regarding the foaling data.  Collins also noted that testing the safety of mares in the field would be tested in a proposal that was a controlled experiment.  (Note the use of the word “experiment” again.)

5)    In a 8/17/2010 e-mail from Pielstick to Dean Bolstad, Pielstick noted that horses were spayed at a private ranch called Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown, CA.  Pielstick also noted he received a letter of support from Dr. Eric Davis, an equine surgeon who “works for the HSUS.”

6)    In a 4/7/2010 letter to Alan Shepherd (BLM) from Melinda McDonald, DVM, of U.C. Davis, who noted that wild mares being spayed were “fractious and did fight the restraint of being confined in a chute.”  McDonald noted “There is no question that colpotomy is a surgery which carries substantial patient risks, as does any form of ovariectomy in horses.  Here at UC Davis, we have observed a number of post-operative complications in mares following ovariectomy performed via laparotomy, laparocopy or colpotomy.”

She then praised Pielstick’s experience.  (However, Pielstick is gaining his experience using wild and feral horses.  These are trials.  And other vets may not be as experienced.)

7)    In a 4/27/2010 letter, Dianne Nelson, President of Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown, CA states she supports spaying mares as part of BLM’s wild horse management.

8)    In a 12/19/2011 e-mail from Gail Collins (FWS) to Alan Shepherd (BLM) copying John Kasbohm (FWS and current Project lead) and Damien Miller (FWS), Collins noted about spays that “Per veterinarian recommendation, the mares were held at the processing facility on average 8.1 days following the procedure before release back onto the refuge.

And about vasectomies, “Per veterinarian recommendations, the studs were held at the processing facility on average 3.2 days following the procedure before release back onto the refuge.”

And about geldings “Per veterinary recommendations, the geldings were held at the processing facility on average 19.6 days following the procedure before shipping.”

But, there was no indication of monitoring them on the range afterwards.

9)    In an August, 2011 Independent Assessment of a roundup at Sheldon by Julie M. Weikel, DVM, she  stated that 71 studs were chemically vasectomized on August 24 and 25, 2011.  She also noted one stud died of anaphylaxis from a tetanus toxoid injection.

Also, 32 mares were spayed on August 29th and released on August 30th.  She stated “The spaying of mares was observed by professional management and veterinary personnel from the BLM Palomino facility.”  (Could this have included BLM Palomino Valley manager John Neill and Richard Sanford, the vet for BLM’s Palomino Valley and Indian Lakes Road facilities?)

It seems that chemical vasectomies (also called Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance – RISUG) for horses are also experimental.  The USDA only lists research on chemical vasectomies for dogs and cats, but not for horses.

10) Included is an invoice from the Harney County Veterinary Clinic, owned by Leon Pielstick, so you can see where some of your tax dollars went.

Please show up at the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting.  The public comment time will be on Sept. 10th starting at 3 p.m. (and you have to “register” before 2 p.m. if you want to make a public comment).  Make your voices heard.  Stress ON THE RANGE MANAGEMENT OF VIABLE HERDS.  Ask that this BLM Advisory Board, and the BLM, to give the public proof that all of the herds are VIABLE.  There will be a live stream of the meeting for people to watch online (we’ll post a link to the live stream).


1)  https://app.box.com/s/ep9jn6gazx0go5vhabe8

2) https://app.box.com/s/lmdvkn9ap9yx2jq0etig

3) https://app.box.com/s/q5vl68f6zspnk1d126y1

4) https://app.box.com/s/w161ubwm53ra1ehw7uhv

5) https://app.box.com/s/yqoxrkm87awpcnl8u8g8

6) https://app.box.com/s/4fsx66s69x53znnb2i2o

7) https://app.box.com/s/hrmn42ljt9hbm5es07t7

8) https://app.box.com/s/663lw65o1ibeviuz3qj3

9) https://app.box.com/s/8icv2k4h1tmxtky3kovh

10) https://app.box.com/s/9j7f1q0veoku50247es1

11) https://app.box.com/s/3wh8q0ab7oa52tbwfg3y

12) https://app.box.com/s/y9ufwoewmc5j8ubo23dm

13) https://app.box.com/s/8n6orxyo77r3fye734k2

14) https://app.box.com/s/gynrl3jk6rpggulx97el

15) https://app.box.com/s/p8n1wap6tn9plas06f8x

16) https://app.box.com/s/ksgv2axzctxtge3ag50o

17) https://app.box.com/s/y6izc56axvv3ecuemo31

18) https://app.box.com/s/drkgk40yljl9jzcp0mit

19) https://app.box.com/s/za98fvkxtjxczz5nec9r

20) https://app.box.com/s/1xtkf04irn66h8ig8i1j

21) https://app.box.com/s/q4u8rc14pi189v4omy9k

22) https://app.box.com/s/bx4gsbh7kc00fapdv3tt

23) https://app.box.com/s/b62nmgfdhqsiaiu7feuj

24) https://app.box.com/s/j9oeo9wz476inpz1gwox

As I see it: Sterilization of wild mares is a bad idea

Source:  Corvallis Gazette-Times

 570ad285ca486.imageKiger Mustangs from the Kiger Management Area near Diamond in southeast Oregon are shown in a photo from 2007  (AP Photo:  Jamie Francis)


The Bureau of Land Management, charged with the care of our wild horses, plans to sterilize 225 wild mares surgically at its corral in Hines, Oregon, in cooperation with Oregon State University. Its stated goal is to reduce the number of wild horses in order to decrease the cost of managing them.

Is this a good plan: will it solve the problem? The answer is no.

The planned sterilization experiments are preliminary, so that even if judged successful, they would require further studies; thus any results could not be expected for years. Therefore, it is neither effective nor economical.

Nor is the plan humane. Horses are social animals, forming powerful bonds with each other.

Owners know that horses frequently refuse to eat if separated from a companion. Race horses are often given companions to keep them calm. Wild horses may be even more vulnerable than domestic horses when separated from members of their band. Scientists have observed that a stallion driven from his herd of mares by a younger stallion is often found dead shortly thereafter. It is said these stallions die from loneliness.

As if to corroborate this interpretation, observers have noted that if the younger stallion is not very aggressive, the older stallion may be permitted to stay on the periphery of the herd although not an actual member of it. Their very nature thus reveals the extreme stress wild horses experience when they are driven out of their range, separated from their companions and used in experiments.

Even before invasive surgeries are performed, the helicopter roundups cause immense suffering and death. A horse’s natural defense is to flee from danger: old and young terrified horses often suffer serious injuries or death as they run from the low-flying, noisy helicopters, the very young struggling to remain with the herd. If they are separated, they are defenseless and become the next meal for a predator.

Recently newspapers carried an account of a foal, galloping beside his mother that managed to stay with the herd but wore his hooves down so far that he had to be destroyed. The costs of these roundups or their consequences are not accounted for in the BLM’s plan.

Similarly, the proposed surgeries carry with them a risk of death and danger of infection since they are not performed under sterile conditions. For example, it is not known whether ovariectomy (the removal of both ovaries) will cause the premature death of a fetus at certain gestational stages. (The horses subjected to this experiment will include pregnant mares and fillies barely over 8 months). Furthermore, this procedure includes a greater risk of hemorrhage and evisceration and is more painful than other methods.

Read the rest of this article here.

Priscilla Cohn is professor emerita from Pennsylvania State University. She is also associate director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, Oxford, England and has published seven books on topics such as ethics, fertility control and ethics and wildlife.

Four Horses Dead in First Two Days of UK Grand National Race


Four horses have died so far at this year’s Aintree meeting

Horse Curious Carlos, who didn’t die, falls in the middle of a race at Aintree (Picture: Reuters)

The animals suffered horrific deaths. Two of them – Gullinbursti and Minella Reception – somersaulted and landed on their necks on April 8, the second day of the three-day meeting.

Gullinbursti, a 10-year-old horse who had missed last season due to a tendon injury, was competing in the fiercely contested Topham Chase.

Minella Reception fell at the notorious Becher’s Brook. He was put put down because of the severity of his injuries.

On the event’s first day, Clonbanan Lad and Marasonnien were killed in the Fox Hunters’ Chase.

These tragic fatalities make this the deadliest Grand National in the last three years. Since 2000, 42 horses have died at Aintree.

Andrew Tyler, director of Animal Aid, told Metro.co.uk: ‘It remains a perversely evil thing, a wicked thing to make horses do.

‘Whether or not horses die during these events, they still crash to the ground, they somersault.

‘There’s nothing remotely natural about this event. There’s a field full of people, full of noise, and there’s more whipping done at these big meetings. So you’ve got the noise, the hype… all of this anxiety is transferred to the horses.

‘There’s a law against causing animals unnecessary suffering – the Animal Welfare Act. This event causes animals unnecessary suffering.’

And an RSPCA spokesman told Metro.co.uk that they were ‘deeply saddened’ by the fatalities.

‘The death of any horse is always one too many,’ he said. ‘We, along with World Horse Welfare, will look very closely at the race footage and at what happened to see if the deaths could have been avoided or if any lessons can be learned to prevent future injuries and deaths.

‘We will share our findings with the British Horseracing Authority and if we have any recommendations, together we will do all we can to ensure that they are followed by the racing industry.’

John Baker, who runs Aintree racecourse, told Metro.co.uk: ‘We’d like to express our sympathies to the connections of the horses.

‘You can’t remove all risk from any sport but we acted on evidence to make significant changes here at Aintree, including to the cores of every fence on the Grand National Course, and we’ve seen hundreds of horses compete safely since over the last few years.

‘From 90,000 runners each year British Racing has an equine loss rate of less than 0.2%. This is down by a third over the last 15 years and we must keep working to see that continue to decrease.’