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The BBC's Paul Stainton
"These horses appear to be cured of their ills ... all thanks to a little rattlesnake"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 23 January, 2001, 07:54 GMT
A sting in the tail
Horses at Peter Hiatt's yard
Horses walk out at Peter Hiatt's yard in Oxfordshire
The bite of a rattlesnake can be deadly - but a racehorse trainer believes it can also cure.

Peter Hiatt is using the snake's venom in a homeopathic treatment for two of his injured horses.

Lost Spirit and Level Headed were until recently suffering from burst blood vessels.

But they have been on the recovery trail after the prescription of their special medicine.

Hiatt, based in Hook Norton, Oxfordshire, said the treatment had worked wonders.

If ordinary veterinary treatments don't work, then it's worthy a try
  Peter Hiatt
"When they bleed, it affects their breathing at the end of the race so they basically choked," he said.

"Those two now run right to the line.

No danger

"I think if ordinary veterinary treatments don't work, then it's worth a try. It appears that it either works fairly quickly, or it's not going to work."

Liquid containing the venom is imported from America, and is usally added to tablets for ease of application.

Extreme dilution means there is no danger of poisoning the patient.

Homeopathic vet Chris Day said: "We are not getting rid of symptoms directly. We are stimulating the body to heal its own problems.

"Not every horse that bleeds from its lungs or its respiratory system is going to require rattlensnake venom.

No guarantees

"But if the symptoms fit, we will use this medication."

Both horses appear to be cured of their ills and are running in races again.

However, the treatment cannot be guaranteed to produce constant winners.

Six-year-old Level Headed, after a victory last time out, could only finish fifth in a 1m 3f handicap on the all-weather surface at Southwell on Monday.

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