Poorly Luke is now gaining weight and is well on the road to recovery after being rescued in a British case where his health needs were being neglected, on top of being bullied off feed by a bigger companion.
John Lee, of Stokenchurch, High Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire, was on Friday banned from keeping horses and ponies for five years, ordered to pay £2309.28 in costs and fined £200, plus the £20 victim surcharge, for failing to meet the needs of Luke, who was suffering from a parasitic condition and was severely underweight.
Lee was sentenced in Milton Keynes Magistrates Court, having last month pleaded guilty to two offences under the Animal Welfare Act – causing unnecessary suffering and failing to meet the needs of his pony.
World Horse Welfare Field Officer Nick White had frequently visited a small field on Marlow Rd, not far from where Lee lived. He found one of two ponies belonging to Lee to be seriously underweight and suffering from a lice infestation.
Luke, the smaller pony of the two, had found himself unable to claim his fair share of any food that was being provided.
There was no grazing to be had in the bare paddock which he shared with a bigger, stronger and hungrier cob stallion who ate what little food was available.
Due to continued poor management, the small pony lost weight and, under veterinary advice, had to be removed from the premises before his condition could get any worse.
White, who worked closely with Lee and offered him advice, said: “In my view, the owner should have recognised that Luke was suffering from a lice infestation, known that he was not getting enough to eat and that his needs were not being met.
“He should have known that failing to investigate and address the cause of the weight loss would lead to the pony suffering unnecessarily.
“If Mr Lee had taken the time to look more carefully at Luke on a daily basis he would have seen that the pony was losing weight. He could have taken the time to separate the two ponies and provide additional feed for Luke with sufficient forage for both of the horses to share.
“Had he chosen to invest in veterinary advice on feeding, worming, dental and general care and provided the pony with an effective parasitic control programme, Luke’s condition would not have deteriorated to the extent where he had to be removed to a place of safety under the Animal Welfare Act.
“In other words, the duty of care shown by Mr Lee was well below the standard of care expected of a competent horse owner.”
Luke is now in the care of World Horse Welfare, where he is currently undergoing rehabilitation.
The charity’s manager for Glenda Spooner Farm, Claire Phillips, says Luke is still not right.
“Luke still has some on-going health problems but has gained weight and appears to be making an excellent recovery so far.
“As yet we are unsure of the long-term prognosis due to the deformity of his face and larynx but it is likely he will be capable of a companion job in the future.
“He is a sweet, cheeky chap who loves attention and is always playing with his field companions, so hopefully he will have a great future ahead of him.”
White continued: “It seems that anyone can own a horse or pony but as in this case not everyone has the knowledge, time, finances or cares enough to regularly provide for their needs.”
The charity said the case of Luke was typical of so many where, even though numerous welfare visits were made and advice given, the owner still allowed the pony’s condition to deteriorate.