A trainer has been convicted of animal cruelty after a pony in his care was found with an injured eye and a split tongue.

Jonathan Hurst, 25, was fined £300 by Basingstoke magistrates on 26 January, having been convicted of two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a pony called Tanzin, at an earlier trial.

Hurst, of King’s Elm, Barton Stacey, Hampshire, had offered his services to Tanzin’s owner.

The pony was at a yard in Wherwell, Hampshire, between 9 and 14 March last year, but in a few days was noted to have suffered “significant” injuries, which were not treated by a vet.

RSPCA inspector Jan Edwards described the gash in Tanzin’s tongue as “one of the most shocking” she had ever seen.

Tanzin after her injured tongue had been stitched by a vet

“Tanzin had been left to suffer with absolutely shocking injuries,” she said. “I have never seen anything like the state of her tongue. It’s callous to leave an animal to suffer in this way without proper veterinary treatment.

“We were made aware of the untreated injuries after Tanzin’s owner paid a visit to the yard for an update on her pony’s progress.

“When she arrived she was surprised to find her pony didn’t react to her as she usually would and screamed when Tanzin turned her head to reveal a greyed-out eye as she feared Tanzin had been blinded.

“While she was being examined by a vet she had refused food which led to the checks in her mouth revealing the deep cut to her tongue.”

But Hurst said the tongue injury was found during a general health check by his vet, who he said had estimated it as being at least five days old on 14 March. Hurst said the vet “extensively cleaned” the wound but had felt it was too old to stitch, and that the vet stated to him there was food matter in Tanzin’s mouth, so she must have been able to eat.

“She never showed any signs of blood loss, discomfort, loss of appetite or drooling and it was so far back and not externally noticeable that being convicted of the fact I should have reasonably have known she needed a vet is quite frankly a massive misjudgement and will be appealed,” Hurst told H&H.

Hurst said the pony banged her eye at feed time on the afternoon of 13 March, and that “while every care was taken in doing all the relevant checks to the eye with no visible swelling or cloudiness, it was decided to re-check her on the Monday and if appropriate call my vet”.

Hurst added: “My vet was called by my yard at 11.48am on the Monday… My vet decided on a two-day cause of eye drops, but could not find any significant damage or need to re-check the pony any further.”

Hurst said he had “a big setback in legal aid” and so had to prepare his own court case, and that he was not allowed to use his vet’s report as evidence.

Hurst was ordered to carry out 120 hours’ unpaid work, fined £300 and ordered to pay a £60 surcharge.