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Animals have new lease on life beyond Spindles Farm

May 9, 2009

Before and after: Life has improved vastly for this horse, post Spindles Farm.

Four of the horses rescued from Spindles Farm last year.

The Horse Trust has told how horses taken from Spindles Farm into its care gained weight and have made a spectacular recovery.

Chief executive Paul Jepson said it was now a joy to watch the animals playing in their pastures.

He said his organisation was pleased with the guilty verdicts against the Gray family.

"The verdict paves the way for future cases and will hopefully make people think again before keeping their animals in such conditions.

"We hope the family will be given a lifetime ban from owning horses to prevent this from happening again."

The trust is currently looking after 11 horses, ponies and donkeys from the Grays' Spindles Farm.

"We have spent the last year nurturing these animals back to health at the Home of Rest. Many of the animals have made a spectacular recovery and it has been a joy to watch them bucking and playing in the fields," Jepson said.

The trust took in two horses, nine ponies and three donkeys from Spindles Farm, after they were rescued by the RSPCA in January 2008. Since then, one of the ponies, Bill, has died. Two of the ponies were transferred to another sanctuary in August 2008.

All the animals taken in were underweight and gained an average of 80kg in weight within the first four months.

"Some were painfully thin," he said. "One donkey, Gladys, was so weak from starvation that she was unable to stand unaided for the first 10 days. Within four months she had gained nearly three-quarters of her original body weight - going from 146 to 251 kilograms."

The animals also had numerous health problems, including Strangles, Salmonella infections, anaemia, parasite infections, impaired liver function, and internal organ damage.

Bill's death in January 2009 was caused by a parasite infection, which was so severe that it could not be treated by worming drugs, he said.

The cramped conditions at the farm not only allowed infections to spread, but also made life stressful for the animals, in particular, partially-sighted mare Angel.

"When Angel first arrived she could hardly see anything. She was reluctant to go anywhere and lifted each leg up high when she walked to feel her way," said Jepson.

"Being kept in a pen with other animals would have been extremely stressful for her and she wouldn't have been able to compete with the others for food. She's now much happier - we keep her in the same field with the same companions so she is comfortable with her environment."

The poor physical health of the animals from Spindles Farm was reflected in their behaviour when they arrived at The Horse Trust.

"All the horses were dull and depressed when they arrived - they seemed to have no interest in life and food. Normally when a horse is somewhere new it will have its head up and keenly observing its surroundings. The horses from Spindles Farm simply stood in their stables with their heads down," Jepson said.

The Horse Trust has spent an estimated £150,000 over the last year looking after the horses, ponies and donkeys from Spindles Farm. This includes the cost of food, bedding, veterinary and farrier treatment.

Jepson, who is not only chief executive but resident veterinary surgeon of the trust, and Liane Crowther, its welfare and education officer, were called as witnesses at the Grays' trial.



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