The Tragic Death of Poetin, a Wake-Up Call to the Horse World

by Yvonne Welz ©2006

Poetin's Death:

Poetin was a world-class German Warmblood mare (Sandro Hit x Brentano II) who won the 2003 World Young Horse Dressage Championships and was also double Bundeschampion. She was the best of the best, and was called "one of the most unique and talented horses of this decade." In 2003, she sold for a world record price of 2.5 million Euro. In August, 2005, she was treated for an irritation of the right front tendon sheath at an equine clinic in Kerken, Germany, and shortly after was sold at an executorial auction for 900,000 Euro. Observers noted that the mare did look a bit off in the walk. (

Poetin passed away on December 12, 2005 - but the story of her death was not released to the public until a press release in late January, 2006. Here is the press release, as quoted on

"The Brandenburg mare Poetin arrived at Xavier Marie's Haras de Hus in Petit Mars, France, on the evening of September 3, 2005. On December 13, 2005, the eight year old world class mare was put down at 16.05h at the farm.

From the moment she descended the lorry at De Hus in France, the Sandro Hit x Brentano II daughter showed clear signs of laminitis on both front legs. From this point onwards everything was done at Haras de Hus to cure this mare. With the help of French and German veterinarians, farm managers Peter and Manuela Stuber and Xavier Marie combined forces to save the life of Poetin. One of the therapeutic measurements was hanging the mare in a trolley system to relieve her from pressure in the legs.

All help to cure the 2003 World Young Dressage Horse Champion failed. On the basis of a severe case of laminitis, which developed into the beginning of the shedding of both front hooves ("Sohlendurchbruch" and „Ausschuhen“), it was decided to put down the mare.
Those who have known Poetin, know what it is to lose such an extraordinary world class horse."

This article is not meant to criticize those who cared for Poetin; they have our greatest sympathies. One can only imagine that a horse like Poetin received the best care that money could possibly buy. In general, most people are trying to do the best they can for their horses, whether it is a $500 backyard pony or a million dollar international dressage superstar.

Wake-up, horse world, and take notice:

Rather, we'd like to give hope to those who see the current trend, and if the horse world hasn't noticed it yet, it should be very clear by now. Our performance horses in the prime of their lives are being stricken down with lamenesses, and even fatal conditions, at an increasing rate. And all the money in the world doesn't seem to prevent this. Something is very wrong with this picture, isn't it?

Those of us involved with barefoot hoofcare have discovered some truths so simple, they have been overlooked in our modern world. This is NOT about shoeing versus barefoot, this is about the internal state of health within a horse's foot. Healthy hooves do NOT tend to get laminitis, and healthy hooves do NOT founder (chronic laminitis). Horses may have severe health issues, such as metabolic problems and genetic traits that contribute to the overall problem, but usually these horses also suffer from poor hoof health (which comes first, metabolic issues or pathology of hooves?) Healthy hooves do not become navicular (heel pain). Horses with healthy hooves - especially if barefoot - do not seem to suffer from the numerous tendon and ligament problems, so common these days (and often due to unbalanced shoes). When a horse has any of the above problems, look at its hooves! They are usually NOT healthy hooves, and, if so, that may be the root cause of the problem! Learn to recognize the state of unhealthy hooves in a horse, and you can fix that problem BEFORE it turns into laminitis, founder, navicular, or even just suspensory and tendon strain!

Why barefoot? Because barefoot is simply the healthiest condition for horses' feet. This is just a clear, simple truth, with no criticism towards good shoeing - and a good shoer will always agree with that statement! Bare hooves flex and move, self-adjust the trim as necessary, allow full contact with the ground, and full support for the internal structures of the hoof. Add a knowledgeable barefoot trim, based on natural parameters, and you simply have a superior hoof.

You don't have to live in fear of these terrible hoof diseases striking your horse! You can prevent most cases of laminitis, and nearly all cases of founder, and so many other lamenesses, by keeping your horse's hooves in a natural, healthy, barefoot condition; providing him with a lifestyle that allows as much natural movement and interaction with other horses as possible; and supporting him with an appropriate diet and exercise regimen.

To be healthy, horses need to move -- and they need to move a lot, every single day. The more expensive the horse, the more our tendency is to confine that horse, to "protect" him. However, there is a HUGE cost to be paid for confining a horse to a stall and creating a totally unnatural life for him. There is a HUGE cost to be paid for applying man-made devices to his hooves that dictate an unnatural hoof form that he must live with, like it or not. And for every famous horse who dies a tragic death, there are thousands more just like it, with equally tragic deaths that go unnoticed by the general horse world. It's time to notice, and time to change the way we care for our horses. Their very lives are at stake.

More about Poetin:

©2006 by The Horse's Hoof. All rights reserved. No part of these publications may be reproduced by any means whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher and/or authors. The information contained within these articles is intended for educational purposes only, and not for diagnosing or medicinally prescribing in any way. Readers are cautioned to seek expert advice from a qualified health professional before pursuing any form of treatment on their animals. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.

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