Thursday, December 20, 2007

Oxygen Chamber Explosion Killed Four Horses; Law Suit Announced

News out of Canada today is that all is not well at Nova Scotia's Horsepower Hotel. Owner Edwin Cameron, who is described on a tourism web site as the largest private farmland owner in Nova Scotia and operator of a bison farm, was the American Quarter Horse Association's 2006 World Pole Bending Champion.

Cameron is suing the manufacturer of his hyperbaeric oxygen chamber, which he says contained a design flaw that caused it to explode, killing four barrel horses that were undergoing treatment inside the unit at the time.

Earlier, Cameron's top horse, 2005 amateur and senior pole bending world champion, The Money Merger, had broken a leg and was euthanised shortly before the Quarter Horse Congress and AQHA World Show; then the chamber disaster wiped out his other horses. He bought horses with enough points from other riders and showed anyway, winning two world championships at the World Show. His wife's horse was killed in a fire around the same time, according to a story about Cameron on the AQHA web site.

It's not clear why Cameron was treating his horses with oxygen therapy, which is commonly used for horses with burns or other wounds, or laminitis. It is also used by human athletes for conditioning and in particular by deep-sea divers suffering from decompression ills.

Speakers from both the University of Tennessee's equine research program and Kentucky's Hagyard Equine Medical Institute detailed their treatment of laminitis with oxygen chambers at the recent laminitis conference in West Palm Beach, Florida. A chamber is in use at Winstar Farm and at Keswick Equine Therapy Center, both in Lexington, Kentucky, at Coolmore's training facility in Ireland and at Alamo Pintado Equine Hospital in the Santa Ynez Valley of California.

Sympathies to Cameron and his family over the loss of their horses. The accident wasn't publicized when it happened. I'll try to keep you posted on the progress of the trial.

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