A Scottish horse owner has been fined after allowing an underweight horse take part in a 12-mile ride in 2013, resulting in injuries to the animal.

Joseph Ward, 38, of Kirknewton, West Lothian, allowed his horse — called Humphrey (pictured top prior to his rescue and below after recovering in the Scottish SPCA’s care)  — to be taken on the ride, of approximately 12 miles, while underweight and “unfit for such exercise”. He was fined £635 following an investigation by the Scottish SPCA.

Mr Ward appeared at Livingston Sheriff Court on Thursday (30 April), pleading guilty to failing to protect the animal from suffering and injury. The ride caused “multi-limb lameness, a withers sore, tachycardia and exhaustion”, the court heard.

The horse had been on loan and was taking part in the Currie of the Marches, when the Scottish SPCA was alerted to his condition.

“A concerned member of the public contacted us after Humphrey had been taken on a six hour long common ride in May 2013,” said Scottish SPCA Inspector Tracy McNaughton.

“We arranged for an independent equine vet to attend, who stated that Humphrey was in extremely poor body condition, with a body score of 1.5 out of 5.

“The vet also concluded that Humphrey was exhausted, lame on three legs and should not have been taken on such a long and hard ride.

“Humphrey was taken into our care, where he made a full recovery.”

The court has now allowed the horse to be returned to his owner, but the Scottish SPCA will continue to monitor the situation and the horse’s wellbeing for the next year.

“We are pleased Ward has admitted this offence,” added Inspector McNaughton.

David McKie of Levy and McRae solicitors, defending, stressed the horse was thin, not emaciated.

He added:  “Mr Ward has been riding horses since he was six. He’s a very caring, compassionate horse owner and Humphrey was always well-fed, well looked after and much-loved.

“He’s prepared to accept that this was an error of judgment which he very much holds his hands up to.”


Humphrey after recovering in our care