Owner describes ‘worst nightmare’ finding 16 dead polo horses

Andrew Williams has described finding 16 “cold” dead ponies in the back of his truck after a routine journey as “gut-wrenching”.
By Riley Morgan

The polo owner of the 16 healthy ponies that were found dead in the back of his truck after returning from a Tasmanian polo tournament on the Spirit of Tasmania. said his livelihood has been put on hold following the tragic incident.

Andrew Williams, who owned and ran Willo Polo Club in Sydney, said it was a “nightmare” when he discovered only two of his 18 horses had survived a routine journey.

“I have done this trip 11 times in the same truck, but I knew something was wrong as I drove through the city of Melbourne a short time after disembarking. So I rang my other truck and asked if his load was travelling well,” Williams said in a statement.

“My head groom said his horses couldn’t wait to get off his truck. I knew then that something was potentially wrong, as mine was not indicating the usual activity. I then arrived in Yarra Glen at a friend’s property. It was my worst nightmare.
“Within an hour of leaving the boat, I had 16 horses that were cold dead and two fighting to survive.”

Williams has coached and captained the Australia Polo Team in more than 16 countries and helped expand polo in Tasmania.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is assisting Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment’s investigation into the death of the 16 ponies.

An AMSA spokesperson said it is “satisfied that the vessel appears to have complied with AMSA requirements relating to the carriage of livestock. An AMSA surveyor attended the vessel on Tuesday 30 January.”

But Williams said in the statement he was still seeking answers from the investigation.

“I didn’t change anything. Yes, it was a warm night. I have asked for answers, but have received nothing. What I know is I saw 18 healthy horses on my truck just before departure in Tasmania, and an hour after leaving the boat in Melbourne I discovered 16 of them were dead and cold,” Williams said in the statement.

“I am a farmer, a polo player and a breeder of ponies. They are the reason I can feed my family. To have that taken away is gut-wrenching. It is with the legal team now and hopefully they will receive the answers I deserve,” he added.

The Wagga Equine Hospital is conducting the autopsies, but the results are still not known.

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