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Horse in small pen: RSPCA picture

Woman sent to prison after horses found in heart-breaking conditions

18th November 2022

A woman has been sent to prison for 20 weeks and banned from keeping animals after a number of equines in her care had to be rescued.

Following a prosecution by the RSPCA, the 60-year-old, who was of no fixed abode, appeared before Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on October 25, 2022 for sentencing.

At a trial – heard in her absence in July last year – the defendant was convicted of two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a total of 13 horses.

The court heard how she had failed to explore and address the poor condition of 12 equines, and caused unnecessary suffering to a 13th horse – a chestnut gelding called Cracker – by failing to seek appropriate professional veterinary care for an infected wound on his leg. She was also found guilty of a further count of failing to meet the needs of two horses.

An arrest warrant without bail was issued following the trial and she was discovered by the police over a year later and held in custody.

She was sentenced via video link to 20 weeks’ immediate custody, banned from keeping all animals for 10 years and ordered to pay £500 costs.

RSPCA inspectors, a vet and officers from Bransby Horses had attended a location in Branston Fen, Bardney in July 2019 following concerns raised by the police who were in the area dealing with an unrelated matter.

At the location they discovered a large number of horses in an unacceptable state, with many in poor body condition.

Many of those found outside were kept in areas where there was little to no grass available in any of the enclosures and there was no shelter.

Inside a barn were three penned areas housing two ponies and a horse. Upon entering the barn the first small enclosure housed a chestnut pony in poor bodily condition, with the equine’s spine and pelvis clearly visible and hooves overgrown. The pen was very small and was constructed from a combination of metal gates and wooden pallets, measuring approximately eight feet by eight feet.

Further into the barn was a slightly larger enclosure with six feet high fencing, giving the pen the appearance of a cage. A bay coloured horse in poor bodily condition with ribs, spine and pelvis clearly visible was housed in this pen. The horse showed signs of stress and was unable to move around freely; his hooves were also overgrown.

Sadly one young colt was in so much discomfort and pain an independent vet advised he should be put to sleep on welfare grounds and to prevent him suffering further.

RSPCA court picture
© RSPCA court picture of chestnut pony


Speaking after the case, RSPCA inspector Kate Burris said: “The conditions which these horses had been kept in were unacceptable and so many of them were in such poor bodily condition with their ribs visible and overgrown hooves – it was heart-breaking to see.

“We are so very grateful to Bransby Horses for taking on such a large number of horses and I am so pleased that they have all thrived since being in their care.”

Rachel Jenkinson, Bransby Horses Welfare Manager, said: “We were able to provide the specialist care and attention these horses needed thanks to the fantastic support we receive from the public and we thank them unreservedly – it doesn’t bear thinking what would have happened were it not for charities like us and the RSPCA.

“Following a long road to recovery the horses we took in that day have recovered well but the trauma they endured cannot be ignored. We would urge anyone who is struggling to care for their horses or who knows someone who is, to please call our Welfare Hotline. We are here to help and will do everything in our power to prevent a situation such as this happening again.

“Keeping horses is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly.”

In mitigation the defendant said that she had failed to attend the trial as her mother had been ill and that the horse with the wound to their leg had been under vet treatment.

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