Ponies at the centre of welfare case in Wales were breaking their teeth as they hunted for grass among stones, a charity’s welfare officer says.
Authorities found 58 ponies living in distressing conditions. They were taken into care.
Brenig Hardacre, 45, of Caerphilly, in South Wales, admitted 30 animal welfare offences when he appeared in Newport Magistrates Court. He was banned from keeping horses and other livestock until further notice, and must perform 200 hours of unpaid work.
The sentence, which included an order to pay £1000 in costs, was handed down on Friday.
Fifty-one of the 58 ponies were taken in by the charity, Redwings, in a big rescue operation early last year after their seizure, along with pigs, cows and sheep, by Caerphilly Borough Council’s Trading Standards Department. Thirteen foals have since been born.
The seven other ponies, in the worst condition, were taken to HorseWorld in Bristol.
All the ponies made a full recovery and have now been offered a permanent home at the charities.
Redwings said the animals had been living in terrible conditions at Old Gelli and Lower Llanerch farms in Trinant.
In passing sentence, the chair of the bench said it was a serious and distressing case of animal neglect. He said Hardacre was put in a difficult situation by his father and asked to run a poorly maintained farm for no payment, but nevertheless he took on a task which was beyond his capabilities and resulted in appalling acts of animal neglect.
He said they did not believe the defendant neglected the animals deliberately, but his mistake was not to involve the local authority sooner.
Redwings’ head of welfare, Nic de Brauwere, described it as a truly shocking case.
“We are delighted that justice has been done at last. I described them at the time as ‘queuing to die’, and that is exactly what they were doing.
“They were absolutely starving, even breaking their teeth amongst the stones looking for grass. To add to their misery they were covered in lice and had dreadful worm burdens. Some of the horses were already dead when we arrived, and many more were dying.
“One elderly mare was on the verge of collapse and had to be supported and helped to stand for weeks afterwards because she was so weak.
“It was utterly unnecessary suffering. We would like to give all credit to Trading Standards for pursuing this case and ensuring justice was done for this poor ponies.”
The council’s cabinet member for community and leisure services, Councillor David Poole, said: “I am truly appalled that these animals could have been kept in conditions such as these, and commend our team of animal health officers and partners at various animal welfare organisations for their swift action to protect these animals in need.
“I am also pleased that the court has emphasised the seriousness of the offences in the sanctions it has imposed in this case.”