Owners offer reward for alleged horse poisoning
The owners of Rockridge Farm in Rancho Santa Fe are offering a $10,000 reward leading to the conviction of whoever put a potentially deadly mix of feed containing oleander leaves in the stalls of 23 show horses, it was reported Friday.
“When we opened the (stall) doors at 6 a.m., I knew exactly what it was,” Theo Robinson, the ranch’s assistant trainer, told The San Diego Union-Tribune.
The oleander leaves, which can cause a heart attack in horses, were mixed with sliced apples and carrots and had been put on shelves inside the stalls, he said.
Owner Bill Tomin, who has run the10-acre boarding and training facility with his wife, Debbie, for the past 30 years are offering the reward.
“Someone broke in and tried to kill all our horses,” Debbie Tomin told the Union-Tribune. “They fed them one of the most toxic things a horse can get.”
One of the horses was already down and ill when workers discovered the leaves, the newspaper reported. That horse and two others were rushed to San Luis Rey Equine Hospital in Bonsall, where they received intravenous treatments. They are expected to recover, Bill Tomin said.
The farm has about 30 American Saddlebred show horses worth about $2 million. Four are owned by the ranch; the rest are boarded for clients, the Union-Tribune reported.
Every horse in the barn, plus two pregnant mares and a third horse in an outside corral, had been given the mixture, Bill Tomin said, but it was unclear if they all ate it or how much.
The horses were given mineral oil and charcoal to absorb any toxin, he said. They must be watched for 72 hours and then tested to see if they have any heart damage, he said.
Horses normally will not eat oleander because of its bitter taste.
Five of the horses are world champions, and two are scheduled to compete in the World’s Championship Horse Show in Louisville, Ky., in about three weeks, Bill Tomin said.
He said he did not suspect competitors.
“Nobody does this – this is some wack,” he told the newspaper.
Bill Tomin said he plans to have a security camera system installed at the ranch Monday.
His wife said they suspect someone climbed a gate between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. Thursday and planted the mixture.
The sheriff’s department and county Department of Animal Services investigators are looking into the apparent crime.
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