Swiss Barn Fires Kill More Than 20 Horses

An investigation is underway to determine if the fires at the Swiss National Institute of Equitation are arson-related.
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More than 20 horses are dead after probable arson-related fires incinerated two stables at the Swiss National Institute of Equitation (IENA) in Avenches, Switzerland. The horses were trapped inside during the early morning fires which have been likened to a “terrorist act” by the institute’s director.

“We can only respond to this act by bringing triumph to our values, which are fair play and respect—values which are manifest in the daily relationship between coach, equestrian, and horse,” said Jean-Pierre Kratzer, IENA director.

Seven fires broke out within an hour shortly after midnight on Saturday, July 16, in various locations in and around Avenches, according to the Police of the Canton de Vaud.

Two of these fires destroyed two distinctly separated buildings of the IENA, killing all 11 of the institute’s trotting ponies as well as 13 trotting horses, including one horse who had originally survived the flames but had to be euthanized later in the equine clinic due to smoke inhalation, Kratzer said. One of the 4-year-olds that was killed, Dealer d’Occagnes, had just returned a few hours earlier from a race in Cluny, France, where he had placed fifth in the Prix Super U Presse

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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