07 May 2009

The Tragedy at Palm Beach

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Workers raises tarps to spare spectators the sight of fallen horses at Palm Beach International Polo Club

On April 19, 21 polo ponies recently arrived at the Palm Beach International Polo Club to compete in the U.S. Open Polo Championship suddenly collapsed and died. Why the horses belonging to the Venezuelan Lechuza Caracas (Caracas Owl) died was at the time a mystery.

This ESPN 13:13 video investigates and explains the tragedy.

Polo ponies are routinely given vitamin supplements to help them recover from the stress of match play. The Venezulan team was in the habit of using Biodyl, a French dietary supplement containing Vitamin B12, Potassium, Magnesium, and Selenium. Unfortunately, Biodyl is not FDA-approved, so the Venezuelan team could not import their own vitamins into the United States.

Instead, they had a local pharmacist compound the equivalent of Biodyl, but something went wrong with the prescription, and the horses received a lethal overdose of Selenium.

I would take this incident as evidence of the unintended consequences of unnecessary regulation. Do we really need Big Brother telling us what dietary supplements we can give our horses?

Typically, the ESPN reporters conclude with calls for more intensive regulation.

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