Despite Mysterious Horse Deaths, Summer Camp Continues - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Despite Mysterious Horse Deaths, Summer Camp Continues

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SALISBURY, Md.- Each summer kids straddle the backs of playful horses at the "Summer Fun" camp at the Salisbury Baptist Temple.

"Not every kid gets that opportunity," said horseback riding camp owner Oren Perdue, of Salisbury. "Some kids come to camp they've never touched a horse."

That first encounter usually isn't their last, according to Perdue. Kids come back each summer looking for their favorite horse. But this summer things will be a tad bit different.

"Yeah it's sad. It is sad but we know that, you know that they get in their upper 20s, they are not going to stay with us much longer."

Three of Perdue's horses, he said, died of old age, at 27 years of age.  But what happened to the other two?

"Two of them disappeared," said Perdue. "Found out when we did find them they were dead. Why they disappeared we don't know."

Wicomico County Animal Investigator Dr. Marla Stevens is looking into these deaths. She said horses never run away from their herd. So why did these two?

"There is a toxic substance that comes from corn that is grown in a drought year," said Perdue. He believes "moldy corn disease" is to blame.

"Horses are just like humans. They get stomach troubles, liver troubles, heart troubles and everything else."

Stevens said if a horse eats contaminated feed, it could affect its mental capacity, and drive the horse crazy.

Perdue said he grows his own feed.

Producing your own feed can increase the likelihood of contamination, according to Stevens.

In a couple days, Perdue will know if toxic corn was the cause of death. Until then, he is shopping around for new horses, before the first rush of excited camp goers for summer fun.

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