Neglected pacer had fine American racing record

Danny B under foster care in November 2010, eight months after his seizure by the New Zealand SPCA.
Danny B under foster care in November 2010, eight months after his seizure by the New Zealand SPCA.

The stallion seized in a New Zealand horse neglect case was a fine American pacer who earned more than $US450,000 on the track during a long racing career, records show.

The stallion, Danny B, made a phenomenal 336 starts and, as a seven-year-old, ran a world class mile time of 1 minute 51.2 seconds.

The son of the renowned stallion Albatross ran his last race on March 7, 2003, at the grand age of 13, finishing his career with 55 wins, 51 second placings, and 50 third placings. His stakes earnings totalled $US462,979.

Two brothers pleaded guilty yesterday to 12 charges over the care of standardbred horses following the completion of the Crown case in a horse neglect jury trial in Christchurch.

John Blackwood Williamson and Douglas John Williamson each admitted one charge of ill-treating Danny B. They also admitted the wilful ill-treatment of six other horses, relating to younger stock euthanized due to poor development which veterinarians said resulted from poor nutrition, aggravated by heavy worm burdens.

They also admitted five charges of failing to meet the behavioural and physical needs of horses. They were discharged on six other similar counts by Judge Jane Farish following their guilty pleas on the 12 other counts.

The discharges related to horses that were seized with a body score on the Carroll Huntington scale, from 0-5, which had scores of 2 or better.

Danny B was given a body score of 0 at the time of his seizure, late in March of 2010.

The Royal New Zealand SPCA national chief inspector at the time, Charles John Cadwallader, gave evidence in the trial of going to a property on March 29, 2010, at Halswell, near Christchurch, with a group of SPCA inspectors.

Danny B in November 2010, eight months after his seizure.
Danny B in November 2010, eight months after his seizure.

He said the property was in disrepair, bare of grass, the water containers were empty, and the husbandry needs of the horses were not being met, so it was decided to remove them.

The inspectors went to one shed on the property and found Danny B standing in a thick covering of faeces, with no food, and a bucket with filthy water in it.

Cadwallader said it was “pretty damn shocking” and the horse was as bad as he could get while maintaining life.

The stench from urine was overpowering.

Danny B had little hair, every rib and backbone was showing, his mane was knotted and he showed a depressed demeanour, with his head down. His skin had rubs and one of his back legs was clearly swollen.

Cadwallader said Danny B was in such awful condition that he could not move out of the stall. Nibble marks were found on the wood of the half-door.

He said he was in half a mind to shoot him there, but the veterinarian made the decision to give him a break, so he was fed and watered, then managed to hobble to the horse transporter.

Danny B went to a foster home in North Canterbury, where he was seen to be head-weaving – a trait also observed in the stallion at the Halswell property.

Danny B was even observed eating his own faeces, he said.

Veterinarian Hamish Ranken told the court Danny B was found in a small dark stable with a half-door. He had a body condition score of 0. He had some water but no feed. There was no bedding and the stall was full of dung.

He had swelling to all four legs, skin injuries from standing in manure, patchy hair loss, and was head-weaving.

Danny B underwent a blood test. It showed a low grade chronic infection, but he had no worms, and subsequently progressed really well in his recovery, he said.

His body score was reassessed as 2 just 20 days following his seizure.

Robin Marshall told the court of providing foster care for Danny B, and described the improvement in his condition.

Danny B under foster care in June last year.
Danny B under foster care in June last year.

She outlined a feeding regime which began with three meals a day, comprising hard feed and supplements. The horse also had access to hay and baleage (ensiled grass).

Marshall said she found him good to handle, but found it best to keep a paddock between him and her own mares.

She said he was well behaved with the dentist and farrier.

The head-weaving he displayed when he first arrived at her North Canterbury property eventually diminished and she had not seen him to do it for months.

Danny B, she said, improved in condition and became well muscled. He developed a neck crest, as one would expect to see in a healthy stallion.

United States Trotting Association records indicate that Danny B did most of his racing in Florida, at Pompano Park.

He was exported to New Zealand around 2003 and served more than 160 mares, for 105 live foals, local records indicate.

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One thought on “Neglected pacer had fine American racing record

  • July 20, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    It is just brilliant to see how this fella is doing. I am not by nature a horsey type, but Danny B was a bit special. Thank you so much Robin and Neil for nursing him back to health. This was my last investigation over a quarter of a century career in the police (child abuse unit) and latterly the RNZSPCA. I can think of no better swan song to go out on than to have played my small part in the future of the Halswell Horses.


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