A horse drowned recently at Lake Wauburg in Florida during a training exercise designed to save large animals in emergency situations.
The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine Large Animal Technical Rescue Team was conducting training exercises designed for water rescue.
University spokeswoman Janine Sikes said the horse was owned by the team leader, UF veterinary college administrator John Haven.
“It is a heartbreaking accident and it occurred only moments after successfully demonstrating the same training with a different horse,” Sikes said.
The team was created to help save horses, livestock and other large animals in crisis situations. It also trains veterinarians and other emergency responders on moving injured animals and rescuing large animals in water and other emergencies.
The team had conducted at least six water-rescue training exercises without incident in the past three years, Sikes said. She said protocols of the training were based on similar programs around the country and reviewed by UF's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
The committee is intended to ensure UF follows federal law related to the use of animals in research and other cases.
Sikes said the university is reviewing whether protocols were followed in the horse's death, but she said she's not aware of any criminal investigations into the matter. She said she could not provide additional details about the incident.
“The incident is under review, and it would be premature to comment further,” she said.