Source: The Courier-Mail
FIFTEEN horses have now died at a property at Kooralbyn, in the Gold Coast hinterland - and authorities don't yet know why.
The devastated owner of the horses, Steve Hogno, and the large Beaudesert equine community were anxiously awaiting word from Biosecurity Queensland about the possible cause of the mass death.
An emotional Mr Hogno said he only moved 25 quarter-horses to the Kooralbyn property 10 days ago from Oakey near his Toowoomba home.
They were to be part of a planned multimillion dollar sprint racing facility in the Kooralbyn area.
Mr Hogno made an urgent dash from Western Australia, where he is working in the mines, when he heard about the first horse deaths yesterday afternoon.
"I left straight away when I heard the news and got here at 5.30 this morning," he said.
"It's very sad - my partner and I have breed them and cherish them.
"They have a few ticks on them but I don't think, and the vets agree, that it's enough to do the damage that's been done."
Kooralbyn resident and horse owner Doug Wilson said he and wife Lisa watched helplessly yesterday morning as some of the horses died in apparent agony.
"It's just distressing to watch a beautiful horse die in front of you - choke to death - and there's nothing you can do," he said.
"They were thrashing around and not in a good way."
Mr Wilson said several locals risked their safety to comfort the stricken animals, ignoring the threat of Hendra virus.
He said while it was a relief Hendra had been ruled out, "let's hope there hasn't been an intentional poisoning or something stupid like that".
One of the surviving horses appeared to collapse when it was moved into a temporary holding yard this afternoon.
Mr Hogno said Biosecurity Queensland had ruled out Hendra virus as a cause but the deaths of the horses remained a mystery.
"The Hendra tests have come back clear which still leaves it as a mystery, but at least it will put the local community's mind at rest that there's no Hendra in the area," he said.
Mr Hogno said post-mortems would be carried out on some of the dead horses to try to solve the mystery.
However, the test results were not expected back today.
The surviving horses would be moved to another property to see how they responded to different feed and water, Mr Hogno said.
Some of the horses have been euthanised but most have dropped dead in the paddock.
Biosecurity Queensland yesterday confirmed five horses had died and another three were seriously ill at the property southwest of Beaudesert.
But it's since been confirmed that 12 horses have died.
Local horse rescuer, Heather Mackay, who has been on the property since yesterday, said she had seen three horses die herself.
"To be honest they're just dropping to the ground dead," Ms Mackay said.
"(They're) having seizure-type movements and some of them are taking a while to die.
"No one is being allowed on or off the property at the moment."
Horse deaths at Kooralbyn
Biosecurity Queensland this morning confirmed two more horses had been euthanased.
Test results are expected back on the horses today to rule out the Hendra Virus.
BQ said yesterday horses on the property were not showing signs of Hendra virus, which has killed 21 horses this year in NSW and Queensland. READ MORE