2 horse dealers have been found guilty of fraud by misleading their clients, after a trial at Plymouth Crown Court last week (23 September).

The jury heard how Patsy Cheney, 47, and Brian William Rendle, 72, had lied about the age and temperament of horses sold at the sales and their yard, Quarrystone Stud in Loddiswell, near Kingsbridge, Devon.

In one case, a horse that was sold as an 11-year-old was later found, on examination of its teeth, to have been older than 20.

In 2007, Devon Trading Standards — which brought the prosecution along with their Somerset counterparts — had ordered the pair to abide by the Trade Descriptions Act. But they continued to receive a large number of complaints.

Officers visited Quarrystone Stud under a warrant, where they found a large quantity of horse passports and application forms.

They found that the description of a pony on one application form, “Delightful Dottie”, bore a “striking resemblance” to another pony on a different passport, “Darcy Starlet”.

Darcy, who had only been used for breeding, was sold by her owner of 17 years after developing a breathing problem.

She was renamed and sold on by Quarrystone with a new passport for £670. Cheney and Rendle described her as “quiet to ride” and “warranted sound”.

But the mare proved unsuitable for the young children she was bought for, would not accept the bit and continued to suffer from the breathing problem.

A third horse, sold for £2,000, was supplied with a passport that did not match it. Cheney and Rendle were acquitted on charges relating to a fourth horse.

Misleading the public about the age and history of horses to make a quick buck is bad enough,” said Councillor Roger Croad of Devon County Council.

“Misleading them with regards to the temperament and riding history of an animal is downright dangerous.”

The pair will be sentenced at a later date.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (3 October 2013)