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Kidderminster horse owner given ban after RSPCA finds pregnant mare ‘emaciated’

A man from Kidderminster has been disqualified from owning horses after failing to properly care for a pregnant horse that later had to be put down after losing her foal.

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The horse was found in an emaciated condition

William Thornton, also known as Dennis, admitted two offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and was sentenced at Kidderminster Magistrates Court on Monday.

In a case brought by the RSPCA, the offences related to a bay mare owned by Thornton, 25, of no fixed abode.

The animal was found to be in very poor condition, despite notices left by an RSPCA specialist equine inspector weeks earlier providing advice on improving welfare standards to prevent the horse’s condition deteriorating.

The district judge disqualified Thornton from owning horses for six years and gave him a community order involving 120 hours unpaid work during the next 12 months.

Thornton was also ordered to pay costs of £400.

The horse was found in an emaciated condition

RSPCA inspector Suzi Smith attended the site in Timber Lane, Stourport, on December 9, 2022, after the charity received reports about the welfare of horses kept there.

She left an advice notice regarding a bay mare, known as Gypsy Speedy, who at that point was identified to be under an ideal weight, and advice was given to Thornton to provide additional forage and to ensure a farrier attended.

But after returning on January 18 she found no action to have been taken and subsequently the mare’s condition had deteriorated.

In her witness statement, inspector Smith said: “The pregnant bay mare was visibly severely underweight. She had deteriorated a lot in the five and a half weeks, with her spine, pelvis and shelf above her ribcage being exposed despite a thick winter coat.

"There was no additional forage, and the grazing available was insufficient to meet the needs of the equines.”

Inspector Smith called a specialist equine vet to attend, who examined the horse and confirmed she was suffering unnecessarily given her poor body condition and lack of nutrition available.

West Mercia Police attended and placed Gypsy Speedy into the care of the RSPCA.

In their witness statement, the vet stated Gypsy Speedy’s body condition score was just one out of five.

They added: “The body condition score of the animal was unacceptably low and the animal was being caused unnecessary suffering.

"In my opinion, the cause of the poor body condition was due to malnutrition, starvation and/or or an inadequate parasite control programme.

"The mare has been caused suffering for at least six weeks and would continue to suffer if the circumstances did not change.

“In my opinion, the owner has failed in their duty of care by failing to provide adequate food, by failing to implement a suitable parasite control programme, by failing to provide adequate farriery and by failing to seek veterinary advice."

Inspector Smith added: “It’s very sad when we identify an animal that is at risk and clearly discuss with the owner changes and improvements they need to make in order to prevent their animal from suffering, but that advice isn’t taken.

"Thankfully, in the vast majority of our work, owners take on board this advice and make the changes that are needed and the lives of the animals are vastly improved. Sadly there are some cases, such as this one, where animals are caused to suffer as a result of owners who refuse to take the required action.”

Due to her poor health, Gypsy Speedy lost her foal, despite the best efforts of vets and the RSPCA’s equine care teams.

She later became very unwell herself, and vets made the difficult decision to put her to sleep to prevent her suffering further.