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Florida horses killed by lightning

Four horses, including Honey, a two-year-old rescued Saddlebred, were killed by lightning on June 29 at the Avalon Riding Academy in Odessa, Fla.

Honey, a foal that had been rescued and cared for by the students, was among four horses killed as they grazed in a pasture.

“It sounded like a giant was running across the roof of the barn,” Avalon owner Pam Roush told The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times newspaper. She was describing the sound made by lightning as it apparently hit a lightning rod on one side of the barn before homing it on the four horses.

“It couldn’t have been more horrible. But at least they died instantly.”

Roush said the storm, which came through about 6:30 p.m., had calmed to a drizzle when the bolt hit. It missed another group of horses grazing nearby.

Honey was a pregnant-mare-urine foal, one of thousand of foals born each year to mares that are kept for the sole purpose of using their urine production of Premarin, a widely used hormone replacement drug.

These mares are impregnated and confined to their stalls so their urine can be harvested. Their foals are often auctioned and slaughtered for meat-packing plants.

An organization called the PMU Adoption Network rescued Honey and about 30 other foals and brought them from Canada to Gainesville, Fla. Before Roush bought the mare in January, she got the academy’s youth group of about 50 teen and preteen girls to agree to groom and train the mare.

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