Botulism Killed My Broodmare and Her Unborn Foal

Think botulism can’t happen to your horses? Think again. An owner describes her mare’s battle with the deadly disease.
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Botulism Killed My Broodmare and Unborn Foal
Penny munching on alfalfa, just 24 hours before she started showing symptoms of botulism. | Photo: Ashley Godwin

I live in Ocala, Florida, where  most people believe botulism doesn’t exist. But, on Christmas Eve, I lost my 7-year-old Thoroughbred mare and her unborn colt to this horrific disease. I’m sharing our story in hopes that if people see that it happened to us, it can happen to anyone, and that they’ll take steps to reduce their horses’ risk of contracting botulism.

I had owned “Penny” (registered with The Jockey Club as Buck the Attitude) since she was a yearling, so I knew her well. She never raced but was very well bred. I started her under saddle when she was almost 3 and showed her as a hunter.

In 2015 I decided to investigate breeding her in hopes of racing the baby. The next year I bred her to Chitu, who ran in the 2014 Kentucky Derby, the year California Chrome won and stood nearby at Bridlewood Farm, in Ocala. He’s a beauty, so I knew if the baby wasn’t fast, he would at least be gorgeous and I could turn him into a show horse. We planned to keep the baby forever

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Written by:

Ashley Godwin owns Rivermont Farm in Ocala, Florida.

2 Responses

  1. I lost a foal to Botulism in the mid 90’s. She went down and never got up. We took her to Marion DuPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Va but by then it was just too late. I will never, ever forget that. A terrible death.

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