A breeder in Britain has been banned from keeping horses for 10 years, ordered to pay £5000 and told to complete 100 hours of community service after admitting causing unnecessary suffering to a group of horses.
Steven Lee, 27, of Preston, appeared for sentence in the Blackpool Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
Lee had pleaded guilty on August 21 to allowing two of his horses to die in a local field.
Later, vets were forced to euthanise two more of his equines when his eight remaining animals were removed from a field off Mythop Rd, Marton, by the RSPCA and British charity World Horse Welfare.
World Horse Welfare’s field officer for the North West, John Cunningham, was heavily involved in the case and helped to bring the six surviving horses to the charity’s nearby Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Blackpool, Penny Farm, to begin their rehabilitation.
“These horses, all young mares, were living in a field during the winter with no shelter,” he said of their rescue.
“The weather was atrocious. It was snowing and they had very little to eat or drink.
“One small skewbald-coloured horse was emaciated; she was matted with greenish discharge and in a really sorry state.
“The field was covered in foul-smelling discharge from this mare’s bowels. She must have felt so uncomfortable and the smell and the boggy mess surrounding her were incredibly unpleasant. She was clearly very depressed as her head hung low to the ground.”
After examination from vets it became apparent that the young mare and three other horses were suffering from a severe parasite infestation.
The infestation was disrupting the horses’ guts from functioning properly and forcing the equines to endure severe diarrhoea.
The group of horses owned by Lee had the worst case of worm infestation that Cunninham had ever seen.
“Two mares had it so bad they had to be put to sleep. There was nothing we could do to help them.”
Veterinarian David Catlow, from Oakhill Veterinary Practice, Preston said in his statement: “Basic husbandry needs were not met for many months which resulted in a severe internal parasite worm burden.
“These horses have suffered unnecessarily for at least two weeks, but have had a significant worm burden for many months leading to these catastrophic events.”
Prosecutors said Lee failed to provide adequate veterinary care and worming medication in order to protect his horses from pain and suffering.
Cunningham said it was the worst type of case, simply because the plight of the horses could have been avoided so easily.
“If Mr Lee would have spent just £18 to £20 per horse on worming treatment then these horses would have faced an entirely different outcome. Simple feed, coupled with low-cost worming care would have kept 10 horses alive, not six.”
One of Lee’s mares was in foal. Luckily, and thanks to the care of World Horse Welfare staff, the mare and foal are doing well at Penny Farm stables, as are the other five.
The charity hopes that it will be able to rehome the horses in the future.
It said it was a dreadful story and sadly typical of the types of cases that the charity is seeing, with an estimated 7000 equines at risk of abandonment and neglect across Britain.
Since the start of the year, World Horse Welfare has seen a 40 percent increase in the number of horses coming into its centres. This number continues to rise.
More on Britain’s horse crisis: http://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/Emerging-Horse-Crisis
Information on rehoming: www.worldhorsewelfare/rehoming