In a police report, trainer Elizabeth Mandarino claims responsibility for her pony’s death last week at the Devon Horse Show.
The report states, “Elizabeth reported that she accidentally put down this pony, Humble, at the show.”
The 2003 Welsh gelding was reported dead to show officials on the morning of May 26th. Rate My Horse PRO broke the news story soon after.
The Bedminster Township Police report states, “Mrs. Mandarino explained that one of her horses had died [that] morning as a result of her mistakenly administering a shot in the wrong fashion to the horse which resulted in the death”. The Amber Hill Farm owner filed the report as a part of a larger complaint she made in early May alleging internet harassment.
The harassment investigation has since been closed because it did not meet the statutory requirements.
Eyewitnesses saw injection
According to sources, Humble was being tacked up when he dropped to the ground and went into convulsions. Minutes before the pony died, while already in the grooming stall, Mandarino administered an injection.
Kathy Meyer, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for USEF, says the accident report regarding the pony’s death at the horse show stated, “the pony was found dead.” Meyer admits she had not heard the allegations that the pony died at the end of a needle, but said the steward followed the correct procedure in reporting what he was told.
Steward James LaHood filed the report. Initially, he had no comment regarding the matter. When pressed regarding the specifics of the situation, LaHood became chafed saying, “That is my report, it is confidential. She cannot give you that information and I will have her job – I will have her fired”.
United States Equestrian Federation Rule GR 1035.u states:
“To report to the Federation details of injuries relating to both humans and equines on the official Accident/Injury Report form provided by the Federation. In the event of a fatality, the Federation or weekend on-call number must be notified as soon as possible but not later than 24 hours after the incident.”
The rule does not state accident reports are confidential.
A necropsy has reportedly been ordered by Mandarino.
Dr. Kent Allen, Chairman of the USEF Veterinary Committee, Drug and Medication Committee, and FEI Medication Subcommittee has no specific knowledge of this incident, but explains what may be found during the necropsy. In the event of a sudden death, it can be challenging to detect certain substances. “If you can’t find abnormal levels it doesn’t mean something wasn’t administered.”
In the necropsy, they are looking for evidence of venipuncture, in other words, evidence of an IV injection site. Dr. Allen says horse owners should not be administering IV drugs to horses and cites one of the numerous problems the untrained injector can encounter. “Injecting drugs mistakenly into the carotid artery can lead to a violent and immediate death.” He advocates for education and the responsible use of injectable drugs for therapeutic needs or under the supervision of a vet.
Meyer says the USEF will request a copy of the results for the safety committee to review. Ultimately it will be Mandarino’s choice if she decides to hand over the information. Mandarino is not currently being investigated by the USEF in connection with the pony’s death. Meyer says, “in order for there to be an investigation, a protest must be filed stating that a USEF rule was broken”.
If an official protest is not filed by June 13th, the incident could escape further review.
Note: The names of the accused have been redacted from the police report (below) since the police determined no crime against Elizabeth Mandarino was committed.
Filed by Amber Hill Farm’s Elizabeth Mandarino
Update December 2012
Our team broke the news leading to the New York Times front page article in December 2012.
Read the article by multiple Pulitzer prize winner Walt Bogdanich and contributor Joe Draper.
Matthew Orr produced the video segment.