A lifelong horse owner who neglected to get advice from a veterinary surgeon and allowed two of her ponies to become disturbingly underweight and poorly has been fined.
Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on Wednesday, July 4, how Judy Shaw, 45, of Dorset Close, Brimington, Chesterfield, kept the ponies Larry and Daisy with five others in a paddock on Sheffield Road, Dronfield, where they were spotted by the public who alerted police.
District Judge Andrew Davison said: “I’m confused she genuinely didn’t believe she needed to seek help to address, assist and treat the two ponies who couldn’t or wouldn’t eat.
“I did not find they were not fed a suitable diet by Ms Shaw but her plan was clearly wrong in her inability to self-diagnose.”
Judge Davison also acknowledged Shaw is a lifelong and caring owner and keeper of ponies who is not cruel to animals, however he concluded she had failed to address Larry and Daisy’s deteriorating condition with expert advice.
He added: “Self-treatment was the act of a reasonable, caring and legitimate owner had it been done for a short period of time.
“But, over a three-month period, in which time I am satisfied these ponies were slowly deteriorating, it should have been obvious to Ms Shaw as a reasonable, caring and competent owner that their weight, and appearance especially, should have caused her to act to bring in professional advice.”
The RSPCA, who were alerted by police, visited the paddock in August, 2017, after the tip-off, according to Judge Davison, and discovered five ponies in a reasonable condition but the state of Larry and Daisy raised concerns.
RSPCA Inspector Michael Darling described Larry as looking like a Jersey cow with prominent ribs and he was in a “pitiful” state and was walking in a slow, laboured manner.
The RSPCA contacted an expert veterinary surgeon, Christine Jamieson, and Larry and Daisy were removed for an investigation and treatment because their conditions were described as “very disturbing”.
The court heard Daisy was not in as bad a condition as Larry but she was underweight with her ribs prominent.
Ms Jamieson stated Larry was unbelievably emaciated and added that she had not seen a pony as bad as this alive.
She said Larry was crawling with lice and she could see them laying eggs on his body and that Daisy also had a similar problem but not as bad and she too was underweight but not worryingly so .
Miss Shaw had been treating the ponies for the respiratory condition Strangles, according to Judge Davison, and she had been feeding them with supplements but this condition can result in horses going off feed.
The defendant described 2017 as a difficult time for her and her family while she was nursing her terminally-ill father-in-law who later died.
She added that she had been feeding the ponies with supplements and was operating worming and lice treatment routines.
But Miss Jamieson stated a competent horse owner should have reacted earlier and called in a vet and the ponies should not have been allowed to get into such a poor condition.
Shaw had pleaded not guilty to causing unnecessary suffering by failing to address the ponies’ condition, denied failing to ensure the needs of the ponies were met with a suitable diet and denied failing to protect them from suffering or disease between June and August, 2017.
However, Judge Davison found Shaw guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to both Larry and Daisy by failing to seek veterinary advice, and guilty of failing to protect Larry only by failing to protect him from lice.
Judge Davison found Shaw not guilty of failing to provide Larry and Daisy with a suitable diet.
Shaw, who is dependent on benefits, was fined £500 and was ordered to pay £750 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
The defendant was not banned from keeping animals and no order was made to deprive her of her ponies.
Following the hearing, RSPCA inspector Rachel Leafe said: “The horses were in a very bad condition at the time we were called out and the vet who treated them said that, in the case of Larry, they had never seen a horse so thin to survive. He couldn’t stand up he was so weak.
“Since being in RSPCA care they have thrived and are back to full health. As no disqualification order was made by the court, the horses will now go back to Shaw’s care.”