A man who overworked a skewbald mare to the point of exhaustion during Britain’s Appleby Horse Fair this year has copped more than £2000 in penalties and lost his horse.
Levi Lesley Loveridge, 32, of Datchet, Slough, appeared in the Carlisle Magistrates Court last week.
He admitted causing unnecessary suffering to the mare by overworking her to the point of exhaustion. The charge was laid under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
The court deprived him of the horse, named Poppet, and he was ordered to pay £2242 in fines and costs.
“Our team were alerted to the horse’s plight after a member of the public became concerned about her,” RSPCA inspector Will Lamping said.
“When inspectors and a vet arrived she was breathing heavily and could barely walk.
“She was taken into possession on vet advice and we got her back to the vet tent on Salt Tip Corner for treatment. She was hyperthermic, exhausted and dehydrated.”
The incident happened on June 9 this year at the fair, in Cumbria. The event, which has been running annually for more than 300 years, attracts around 10,000 travellers, with more than 30,000 other visitors attending to soak up the atmosphere.
Loveridge had purchased the horse and her tack after observing her being trotted on the “flashing lane”, where horses are shown off to potential buyers.
He then rode her on the flashing lane himself before tethering her in harness and going to get some lunch.
No water was provided for her and no-one was asked to monitor her.
“This horse was in a bad way,” Lamping said.
“Her owner made himself known to us about an hour after we removed her. If her condition hadn’t been highlighted to us, and we hadn’t been able to intervene, it’s very likely she would have been dead when he got back.”
Poppet has been in the care of World Horse Welfare, one of the RSPCA’s partner charities at the event, since the incident and her ownership will now pass to them.
Karen Wright, yard supervisor at World Horse Welfare’s Rescue and Rehoming Centre, said: “When Poppet first came to us she was put straight into our isolation unit where she was checked over by a vet.
“Due to the emergency care that she had received from the RSPCA and others at Appleby, she seemed to be making progress and was in good bodily condition.
“She was very shy and timid when she arrived though, very wary of others around her and desperately in need of her trust building up before we could even think about rehoming her.
“With her future now secure at World Horse Welfare, we can begin her in-depth rehabilitation and I’d like to think that once she becomes more confident she will make a lovely riding pony for somebody.”
John Cunningham, World Horse Welfare’s field officer for Cumbria, said heat exhaustion was dangerous.
“Heat exhaustion is something that horse owners need to be acutely aware of particularly if you are working your horse hard on a hot day.
“Heat stress or heat exhaustion means that the horse simply runs out of fluids and starts to find it harder to sweat. Without proper hydration a horse can collapse and even die.
“In Poppet’s case, it got so bad that she had to be put on a drip in order to receive immediate fluids and underwent an emergency cool down process.
“When working your horse during high temperatures it’s essential to ensure your horse is up to the right level of fitness for the type of work that he or she is taking part in, is offered water before and after work and be aware of exercising your horse beyond its capabilities.
“As we saw with Poppet, heat exhaustion can become very serious – one important thing to keep in mind is that the signs of heat exhaustion depend on the horse.
“One horse suffering from heat exhaustion could show obvious signs like having his or her head held low and dripping in sweat but another horse could show few signs at all – it can be difficult to spot. This makes it all the more important to avoid this happening to your horse in the first place.”