A father and son have been banned from keeping horses after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to 20 horses at their sanctuary in Norfolk.
Mr William Hand and Mr Nathan Page, who ran Rainbow Meadows in Foulsham near Fakenham since 2013, had failed to provide basic care for the horses and failed to comply with legal improvement notices served on them under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
The prosecution was a result of a visit made to Rainbow Meadows on 19 November 2015. 20 horses were identified as being in such poor condition that they required immediate removal and veterinary attention, following an assessment by attending Redwings veterinary surgeon Nicola Berryman.
Redwings were able to offer a home to 12 of those seized, while World Horse Welfare offered a home to the remaining eight.
Once in a place of safety, a thorough inspection of each animal identified multiple health issues and sadly one horse had to be put to sleep. The horses were also emaciated and since their rescue, six horses have gain over 100kg each in weight.
On 20th October 2016, at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, the two defendants pleaded guilty to eight charges of causing unnecessary suffering to twenty horses by failing to provide an adequate diet, provide parasite control and failing to address the causes of poor body condition. They also pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to take reasonable steps to protect seven horses from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
Mr Hand was sentenced to 15 weeks in prison, translating to a 12 months suspended sentence. The judge disqualified him from keeping all equine and cloven hoofed animals for life. He also has to pay £415 in costs. Mr Page was banned from keeping equine and cloven hoofed animals for 10 years and ordered to pay £296.
Commenting on the case, Redwings Horse Sanctuary’s Chief Executive Lynn Cutress said: “For the horses who have endured such unnecessary suffering, we are pleased with the guilty verdict of their owners and that justice has been served. For this type of neglect to have occurred at a place that called itself a ‘sanctuary’ is unfathomable.
“Our attending veterinary surgeon and senior field officer said this was one of the worst cases they had seen and the difficult rescue operation took over 12 hours to complete. For the twelve horses and ponies taken into our care at Redwings the road to recovery has been a difficult one, which only emphasises the extent of their previous neglect, but we’re delighted that we were finally able to offer them that place of sanctuary they so rightly deserve.”
World Horse Welfare’s field officer Jonathan Jackson said: "What I will take away from this case is the memory of emaciated horses standing in pouring cold winter rain, at premises that were totally unsuitable for the care of equines.
“Not one of the animals objected to being loaded on to lorries and taken to a better life. It has been great to see each horse's transformation since being in the care of our team and I’m delighted that six of them are now enjoying new lives in new homes, while the other two will be joining our rehoming scheme very soon."