Family’s Three Miniature Horses Die Mysteriously, Within Hours Of One Another

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BATTLE CREEK, Mich.- Two horse owners in Calhoun County are devastated after losing three animals that have been in his family for years.  Jeff and April Hunter said the death of their miniature horses remains a mystery.

The couple is willing to pay for information that would answer, what killed their three horses?

The Hunter’s family farm, where they kept the horses, is off Watkins Road in Battle Creek.

Five years ago, April Hunter got a miniature horse and instantly fell in love.  Soon she and her husband got two more to keep the horse company.  Each day the horses had a routine but on Thursday, June 20th, the routine ended without warning or clear reason why.

Jeff and April thought their three miniature horses, 15-year-old Pepper, 5-year-old Peanut and 2-year-old Buck would make anyone who met them animal lovers too.

Jeff said, “They would run all over together in the pasture, just yesterday they were having a ball.”

That’s what makes their discovery Thursday so disturbing.

“We did nothing different.  For years, the same routine,” he said.

Thursday morning they found the 2-year-old, Buck, dead in the field.  When they realized the other mini horses were sick as well, they thought this was much more than a simple coincidence.

Within hours of finding Buck, another horse was sick.   Jeff said, “Her tongue was hanging out, she was staggering.”

They called both a vet and the police.  The Hunters couldn’t explain what was happening.

Jeff said, “Maybe someone was pulling a practical joke or threw something over the fence later in the morning and poisoned them.  It’s awful that three mini horses die in the same day.”

April said the vet tried for hours to save the third horse, “She was suffering, she was just in cold sweats.  Her body was cold.  It was just the best decision to put them down.”

Within eight hours all three of the family’s horses died.  The Hunters felt helpless as they filed a report with police.

“They (the police) said there is nothing they can really do about it because there is no evidence,” said April.

They are sharing their story as a warning to others and they are hoping that someone can shed light on what exactly killed their pets.

Jeff said he is willing to pay $500 to anyone with information on what happened to their horses.  They ask that you call Battle Creek police with any tips you may have.

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  • Roger

    Anyone think to do blood screens to find if it was deliberate, environmental, or just nature in itself with a virus or something. While I know these were not humans, I would think someone would still do a pathology on them. That way it can be dealt with in all 3 types of circumstances, either by finding who or what is responsible and ensure the safety of any other animal housed at this location.

  • Cindy

    I would definitely ask the vet to perform a necropsy with full toxicology tests. Horses don't just get sick and die within a day. They definitely had to eat something (poisonous plant, poisonous chemical, etc.). I hope they find answers!

    • Marilyn

      I totally agree with you Cindy……necropsy should have been done on all three horses to determine the cause of death…sometimes the County doesn't charge a fee for this, if poisoning is suspected…not knowing what they died of makes it difficult to heal from this horrible tragedy…

    • Me Here

      And poisonous plants don't just pop up for the poisoning on ONE random day, unless their pasture / grazing area had changed very recently.

  • Marilyn

    It seems like the Vet that was out treating the remaining horse would have suggested testing these horses. At least they would know if it was delibrate or not. Or if there is something in the field that made them sick.. Yes they should have them tested!!

  • IMOP

    The only way to truly find out what happened is to do a necropsy on the animal(s). And that is quite expensive. I would at least run blood tests to see if they were poisoned or is it viral. As a former horse owner it is highly unlikely for 3 animals to just up and die within 8 hours of one another with no reason indicating a problem.

    • Marilyn

      Years ago, I found one of my miniature horses dead in my pasture, and didn't know what happened, so I called the County and they said because the horse was not sick before it died and it would be poison, they only charged me $50 for the necropsy…it was determined that the colt died of an allergic reaction to a bee sting on his tongue…very sad…but at least I knew what happened to him, and I didn't worry about the rest of my herd getting sick or poisoned too.. Depending on your State or County, you can inquire about the charge for a necropsy for your animals…Certainly having your personal vet do it would be expensive…I'm sure.

  • sheryl

    It sounds like triple E to me. Eastern Equine Ensephilitis and it will kill a horse quite quickly and they do stagger and act funny sort of drunk acting so to say. It is a sad thing to see. I lost a horse and a miniature mule to the disease back in 2004 and my vet had me take my horse to MSU for an autopsy to make sure and that is exactly what it was. And both had to be put down because they were suffering as well it was horrible

  • Marilyn

    This is horrible and devastating…did you have a necropsy done on all 3 horses…to determine what the exact cause of death was? Usually your County would do this free of charge or for a nominal fee, if there might be a chance of someone in your area that might have poisoned them…if it wasn't poison the necropsy would determine the cause of death.
    I'm so very sorry for your huge loss…sending prayers and healing thoughts for your family during this difficult time…

  • Me Here

    Jeff said, “Maybe someone was pulling a practical joke or threw something over the fence later in the morning and poisoned them. It’s awful that three mini horses die in the same day.”

    Now I'm not detective, but there is no way this was a "practical joke". Someone or something poisoned them. I think that's damn obvious.

  • Tonya

    An autopsy would have been worth the money. I would also have the water and soil tested if they really want to know what happened.

  • Scherzerfan

    I don't know squat about horses but I love and care about all animals. If there was foul play in the deaths of these darling ponies, I hope the rotten person(s) are found and punished to the fullest. So very sorry for the family's loss. I would be heartbroken.

  • jeff hunter

    Thank you for your comments my saying joke ment maybe whomever did this just wanted them to get sick and not die they did blood on last horse results not back yet we always ;pet harmful things away from them they were playing day before just like in the clip we have chickens and ducks ate same food and there fine .we are still heartbroken and numb from this I think some wackjob put antifreeze in a Apple and fed it to them . I believer of karma and God someone will slip up and expose themselves

  • Judy Butcher

    My heart goes out to you, I lost my little stud a month ago and it is heartbreaking:( Is there and wild cherry trees they could get to? I know a man who lost a whole herd of ponies because of eating the leaves off wild cherry trees.

  • shelley

    I am so sorry for your loss! Our family has rescued 7 minis in the last 9 months. They are the sweetest. I hope you get some anwers and foul play is not the reason. How could anyone be that cruel?