The owner of two horses deliberately lamed by her former farrier has blasted the Farriers Registration Council (FRC) for not barring him from shoeing horses again.

Mark Wellfair of Bentham, Glos, was handed a three-month ban, running until 23 August, by the FRC’s disciplinary committee on 24 April.

He was convicted of criminal damage to Cassandra Price’s horses on 21 July 2011 at Cheltenham Magistrates Court.

The court conditionally discharged him and ordered him to pay £220.80 compensation with £85 costs.

“I feel completely let down by the system,” said Miss Price. “The cruelty he caused to my horses was horrendous.”

Wellfair shod Miss Price’s horses for five years before she changed farriers in January 2011.

On 7 and 23 February 2011, Wellfair went into Miss Price’s field and pulled a shoe off first her five-year-old eventer Coolagadden Clover (known as Eric) and, on the second occasion, her advanced eventer Arron Carneval Hill II (Arron).

The shoes were pulled off with pliers and the hoof cut back, with large amounts of the hoof wall removed. In Arron’s case, the lamini were revealed, causing the hoof to bleed.

Both horses needed remedial farriery and Arron will always need stick-on shoes.

A vet told the hearing that it would have caused both horses pain and unnecessary suffering.
“Mark told the FRC he wanted to cause me inconvenience,” said Miss Price, “but the suffering he caused to my horses was absolutely disgusting.

“They trusted him because he had been their farrier.”

She said she felt disappointed that the police had prosecuted Wellfair for criminal damage rather than animal cruelty and that the FRC had not banned him for life.

A spokesman for the FRC said: “A three-month suspension is relatively rare and is a serious finding, which the committee considered was fair – taking into account the recovery time for the horses, the impact on the profession and that Mr Wellfair fully admitted the charges and showed remorse for his actions.”

She added that if the committee had felt Wellfair was indifferent to the suffering he caused the horses, it would have barred him from working again.

Wellfair could not be reached by H&H for comment.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (7 June 2012)