19 July 2001

An international polo player who was convicted of causing cruelty to his ponies in April this year has been acquitted on appeal after a judge at Gloucester Crown Court threw out the RSPCA’s case against him.

Clarita and Charola, two Argentinian polo ponies belonging to Wing Commander Afzal Ashraf were taken away by the RSPCA in February after they were reported to be in an emaciated condition in fields he rented at Prestbury, Cheltenham.

Colin Vogel MRCVS, giving evidence, said that the first RSPCA vet failed to examine the ponies thoroughly and they were taken to a rescue centre where their condition worsened during the two-day gap before a second vet could examine them.

MrVogel explained that the ponies were suffering from cyathostomiasis, a condition caused by worm larvae that can lead to sudden weight loss, and that tests showed that they had normal protein levels, suggesting that they had been adequately fed and caredfor. He added that their weight loss was only about 3%.

“I am relieved that, finally, I have been vindicated and proved to be innocent of the charges against me,” said Wing Commander Ashraf, who has been supported by the pressure group Victims of the RSPCA, set up by Carol and Dave Jewitt to lobby parliament for better policing of the RSPCA to ensure that its prosecutions are for genuine cruelty cases.

For full story see Horse & Hound issue dated 19 July 2001 click here subscribe to Horse & Hound magazine.