A man from Methwold, Thetford has been banned from keeping animals for life after admitting neglecting a mare and foal he kept in an isolated barn with no light for more than 18 months.
Frederick Charles Stannard pleaded guilty to four offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, after two ponies, a mare and her foal, were found in a neglected state in September last year.
Until his rescue, the foal had spent his entire life in the dark and never been out in the sun.
The ponies have been rehabilitated at Redwings Horse Sanctuary during the past five months and now have a permanent home at the sanctuary.
Stannard, of the High Street, Methwold, Thetford appeared at Norwich Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (1 March) where he was sentenced to a lifetime ban on owning all animals, handed a 12-week prison sentence for each offence,to run concurrently, which is suspended for two years and ordered to pay £150 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.
RSPCA inspector Chris Nice who investigated said: “We were made aware of these two little ponies, Charlie and Bella, back in September 2016, after a dog walker strayed from the footpath accidently, and came across the secluded barn.
"They were very lucky to have been found in this way, as who knows how much longer they would have gone on suffering, undiscovered, as the barn was in the middle of a 20-acre field, completely isolated.
“The barn was so dark the walker couldn’t see much, but was concerned for the ponies and gave us a call. I went out to the property and left a calling card, that was never responded to. I became really concerned that nobody was attending these horses, so the police obtained a warrant to investigate further.”
It was only then that Inspector Nice and Redwings Welfare Veterinary Surgeon Nicola Berryman were able to examine the two ponies, a mare and her 18-month-old foal, found suffering inside the barn in darkness.
Both ponies were in an extremely poor state, scoring just 0.5 out of 5 for body condition. They were also riddled with lice and other parasites, had extensively overgrown hooves, and were nervous and unhandled.
Redwings Welfare Veterinary Surgeon Nicola Berryman said: “Being closed in a barn for such a long time meant Bella and Charlie were in very poor condition. However, as well as emaciated, suffering with very overgrown feet and covered in lice, the pair were extremely nervous and Bella, in particular, was terrified of people.
"Indeed, despite only having a body condition score of 0.5 out of 5, Bella had real fight in her, meaning her recovery has required a great deal of patience in order to help her trust us.
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"I am very pleased with their progress, especially considering the terrible state they arrived in six months ago. Both are now bright, happy and have a healthy body condition score of 3, which is a real credit to our team’s care and sympathetic handling”.
Inspector Nice added: “Mr Stannard admitted failing to provide care for these ponies and causing them unnecessary suffering, and he willingly signed both over to our care after telling us he knew he shouldn’t have had them and could see they weren’t well, but he couldn’t afford to have them seen by a vet.
"It seems his lack of knowledge of horses led him to becoming overwhelmed at taking care of them.
“In reality, horses are hard work to look after, not to mention expensive, and this case really shows that if you don’t have the time, knowledge or experience, you shouldn’t own a horse. I am really glad to hear Bella and Charlie have recovered well in Redwings’ care.”
Redwings Senior Field Officer Julie Harding said: “I am delighted by the outcome of this case. Bella and Charlie’s story is a very upsetting one. When we found the pair, Bella had been shut in the barn formore than 18 months. The barn had very little ventilation, was strewn with rubbish and was also providing a home to an array of poultry.
"After a month of being closed in the barn, Bella gave birth to Charlie, so for the first 17 months of his life before his rescue, Charlie never felt the sun on his back. I cannot understand why someone would treat their horses this way."