A Suffolk woman has been found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to more than 30 horses as well as a large number of dogs in her care after they were found emaciated and living in their own faeces.
Following an initial welfare concern about a group of ponies kept on land near a railway line, World Horse Welfare Field Officer, Jacko Jackson and RSPCA Inspector, Jason Finch investigated the premises where they found over 30 miniature horses in a variety of sheds, barns and fields – many living up to two feet deep in their own faeces.
In addition to the unsuitable environment, most of the ponies were underweight and many had badly overgrown feet, dental problems, worm burdens and eye infections.
Stallions and mares were housed next to each other with only a small fence to separate them, causing unnecessary stress and fighting between the herd, with expert witness for the prosecution vet Peter Green describing the property as ‘massively overstocked’ with ponies and lacking in adequate grazing or space for them to exercise. Dogs were kept in small cages without fresh water or food and were described as ‘depressed’ by another vet, Kerstin Politz.
Ms Marilyn Read was convicted of 29 offences under Section 4 and Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act and has been given a six-year ban from keeping horses and dogs, with a three month suspension to enable her to rehome the animals currently in her care. She was also ordered to pay £2,500 in costs which will be paid at a monthly cost of £50. This prosecution is Ms Read’s third under the Animal Welfare Act having been previously convicted in 2007 and 2004 respectively.
The original 35 ponies seized in summer 2014 are now in the care of the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare where they are undergoing rehabilitation with a view to rehoming them in the future.
World Horse Welfare Field Officer, Jacko Jackson said: “We are pleased that this case has now come to a resolution but at the same time disappointed that the sentencing was not stronger given this was Ms Read’s third conviction.
“Ms Read was offered a range of help and support from World Horse Welfare, the RSPCA and other charities but was unwilling to accept the fact she was unable to cope with the numbers of animals in her possession.
“No one person could possibly look after more than 70 animals (horses and dogs) and ensure they all received the appropriate levels of care, something which was clearly demonstrated in the numerous health problems suffered by both the horses and dogs on Ms Read’s property.
“Now that the case has concluded, the ponies can undergo intensive rehabilitation, a process which has had to be put on hold during the two years this prosecution has been ongoing.
Many people don’t realise that any horses or ponies in our farms as part of a prosecution case can only be given basic care and stallions cannot be gelded which means they must be individually housed instead of living in herds or groups as our other horses do.
This understandably places a huge strain on our resources, so it’s positive that the team at our Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre can now begin work with these ponies.”
TRAINER Dan Skelton sent out an impressive winner at Plumpton yesterday hot on the heels of Thinger Licht the previous day at Fontwell Park- confirming his runners are back at their best as the Cheltenham Festival approaches.
Baratineur, a five-year-old ridden perfectly by Robert Dunne, justified 13-8 favouritism when he took the lead two from home and went for the line, winning by five lengths. His trainer said: ” On that performance he could go for the Sussex Champion Hurdle here at the end of March, taking in a novice on the way. He couldn’t have done it better today.”
Horsham trainer Gary Moore was back in the winner’s enclosure with The Green Ogre, ridden by son Joshua in the Handicap Steeplechase over two miles and one furlong.
Moore said: ” He is an easy horse to train, which makes my job easy. I’m very pleased with that run. He was moved out of his box into a barn, which he has enjoyed and it has made a difference to him.”
One local horse which particularly caught the eye in the Joan Collinson Memorial Handicap Hurdle Race was Albahar, a five-year-old owned by Mrs Kate Digweed and trained by Chris Gordon.
The grey gelding pushed 16-1 winner of the race, Lewes-trained Planetoid, all the way to the line. Chris Gordon trainer said: ” He is a dual purpose horse and ran a blinder when winning on the Flat at Chelmsford last week. He would have done even better here on better ground.”
The Colin Tizzard bandwagon rolled on when The Cider Maker ridden by Michael Legg won the Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase and the Gay Kindersley Memorial Salver.
His rider reported that the horse ‘jumped brilliantly and had bags of scope’. The trainer’s son Joe had saddled him up and said: ” That will have given him his confidence back. He couldn’t have done better and I’m really pleased with him. He has had ulcers and a wind operations, but that run couldn’t be faulted.”
Lewes trainer Suzy Smith had a winner when Mariet won the Peter Earl Memorial Mares Handicap Hurdle Race, ridden by 5lb claimer Jack Sherwood. The 9-1 shot was always prominent, and was driven out after the last to win by a neck from the Fergal O’Brien trained Lilywhite Gesture.
It was a well-deserved victory for Suzy Smith. The seven-year-old chestnut mare had started her career in racing by winning a National Hunt Flat race and went on to win a handicap hurdle,also at Plumpton,before her latest victory yesterday.
A note for the diary: Plumpton’s next meeting is an Anglo Irish Raceday on Monday March 14.