Man jailed over “thinnest horse” a welfare charity has ever seen

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The owner of “one of the thinnest horses” that charity World Horse Welfare has ever seen has been jailed on charges of neglect.

Tom Parker, 72, from Cleveland, pleaded guilty at a hearing at Hartlepool Magistrates Court on Tuesday (3 April) to causing unnecessary suffering to Rupert, a 30-year-old, 16hh, dark bay gelding.

Parker received a lifetime ban from keeping horses and was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison.

The court heard how on 22 September last year, a member of the public contacted World Horse Welfare as they were concerned about an underweight horse they had seen in a stable in Billingham. The charity’s field officer, Gus Dowson, visited the site that day along with an RSPCA inspector and a vet.

The vet advised that Rupert should be removed from the site and three days later it was agreed that the horse should be put to sleep due to the severity of his condition.

“Rupert was the thinnest horse I have ever seen and is one of the thinnest our charity has ever dealt with,” said said Mr Dowson.

“The horse, despite having access to food and water, had severe dental neglect and wasn’t able to cope with what he was being offered [to eat]. Rupert also had several pressure sores and lesions on his exposed joints and protruding bones, which must have caused a great deal of discomfort for him.”

Mr Dowson said he approved of the court’s decision.

“I welcome the sentencing as it reflects the severity of the case. Mr. Parker had owned Rupert since a yearling and it was clear that the neglect he endured in his later years had happened over a long period of time,” he added.