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A man who subjected four horses to “prolonged neglect” and suffering has been banned from keeping equines for life.

At Southampton Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (9 August), 66-year-old John Henry Mitchell, of Portman Crescent, Southbourne, pleaded guilty to failing to care for the horses’ needs over seven months.

The RSPCA said all four horses, who were kept in Hordle, Lymington, were emaciated and “riddled with parasites”.

Chief inspector Paul Williams said the charity had been aware of Mr Mitchell’s animals for almost three years, giving him advice on their welfare “on many occasions”.

“In March this year, the condition of the horses reached the point where we had no choice but to take things further, after Mr Mitchell had failed to act on our advice so many times,” he added.

“We called a vet who examined the horses and certified Oreo, Cookie, Cloud and Sky were suffering ‘prolonged neglect’ caused by months of malnutrition. The vet also confirmed that Cookie was suffering chronic lameness and all were infested by parasites.

“These horses would have been extremely uncomfortable from the excessive lice and worm burdens. Their feet were overgrown which would have made walking really painful, and their body condition was completely unacceptable. It is appalling that Mr Mitchell thought it was appropriate to keep horses in this way.

“He told our inspector that because he was working, he only ever attended the horses in the dark in winter, implying he could not see if any were in poor condition or had injuries, but he had given them food so in his opinion, this was acceptable care.”

The RSPCA said the judge had told Mitchell she could have jailed him for the offences but owing to his age and guilty plea, she gave him a community order in the form of a curfew instead.

Mitchell, who represented himself in court, said he had had horses for 52 years and had “sorted” his horses’ feet once a year.



As well as the ban, which was suspended for 28 days to allow him to rehome his other horses, he was made subject to an 8pm-7am curfew for eight weeks and ordered to pay £300 plus an £85 surcharge.

The four ponies were signed over to the RSPCA’s care to be rehabilitated and re-homed.

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