A woman from Haverfordwest has been disqualified from keeping animals for five years after she caused unnecessary suffering to a horse in her care.
Natalie Morris of Bush Row, Haverfordwest, appeared at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court for sentencing after pleading not guilty to two animal welfare offences.
They were that she caused unnecessary suffering to a horse called Ben by failing to provide adequate nutrition and also caused unnecessary suffering by failing to provide adequate protection against adverse weather conditions causing rain scald on his back.
Following a one-day trial on Thursday 30 March she was found guilty in her absence. On Thursday 6 April she was sentenced and was disqualified from keeping all animals for five years and was handed a 12 month community order and ordered to pay £1,200 costs and a £65 victim surcharge.
The case involved a 12-year-old bay gelding horse called Ben, who was found in a field in an emaciated condition with severe rain scald on his back.
A veterinary surgeon stated in a written witness statement, provided to the court, that they examined the bay gelding on 22 February 2022 who was “quiet, alert and responsive”.
They said: “The gelding had a body score of 1/5” and added “he had significant rain scald along his back and pitting edema in both hindlimbs.”
In a witness statement from RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben, he said when they were alerted to Ben’s poor condition he made enquiries to speak to his owner.
He spoke to Natalie Morris who said she was not the owner but had been looking after Ben and they arranged to meet the following day.
When inspector Hogben arrived at the field in Clay Lane, Haverfordwest, on 19 February 2022, he saw bay horse Ben with a green coloured rug on. There was also another horse in the field which raised no concerns.
Natalie Morris arrived at the location and access was gained to the field via a locked gate.
Inspector Hogben said: “The rug was removed from Ben and I could clearly see the horse’s ribs, hips and spine despite the horse having its winter coat, the horse was alert and active.”
Morris told him that she had taken delivery of the horse Ben in the second week of December 2021 and she was only supposed to have the horse for a month. She handed the horse passport for Ben to inspector Hogben and Ben was safely loaded with horse transport and taken into RSPCA care for treatment.
Inspector Hogben also added in his statement that he had spoken with a woman who said she used to own Ben and said she had given ownership of him to Natalie Morris in July 2021.
In mitigation it was heard that Morris maintained that she did not know about the trial. She stated she could prove that she was not the owner, however the solicitor acting on behalf of the RSPCA informed the court that it was not ownership in dispute – but who was responsible for the horse during the relevant dates.
Following the case, inspector Hogben, added: “I would like to thank the concerned members of the public who called us about this horse.” Ben is back to full health and has been rehomed.