Sallisaw Police and the Sequoyah County Sheriff's Office are investigating the deaths of several horses at the Sallisaw Equine Training Center, formerly Blue Ribbon Downs. The lessor of the center, Recil Payton, a horse owner and trainer, said the deaths were more likely natural or from illnesses common to horses, such as colic.
Police Chief Terry Franklin said, "We are working on the investigation together. It is a cooperative effort between the police and sheriff's office. Ron Lockhart took one of the dead horses to OSU today to find out about the cause of death."
Lockhart confirmed he took the carcass of a dead horse to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater Tuesday for testing, but it could be weeks before the results are known. Lockhart said a horse owner contacted the Sallisaw Police Department Friday morning, because she had two horses die within the past few weeks, and six other of her horses are still sick. She believes the horses may have been poisoned. Lockhart said he has asked for assistance and guidance from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission and the Department of Agriculture. But he was cautious about the possible causes of death."It may not be anything at all, or it may be something else such as a communicable disease," he said.
Payton said the owner-trainer who contacted the police lost a horse to colic several weeks ago, and she lost a pony horse more recently. Payton said another horse that died Monday died of colic, according to the owner. That was the carcass that was taken to OSU for a necropsy. But it could be weeks before the test results are known, he said.
"It could be several different things," Payton said. "But poisoning would be hard to believe."
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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