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26 horses removed from rescue centre after owner allowed equines to suffer

A horse has been put down and another had to have his eye removed after the woman who ran the rescue sanctuary they were kept at failed to seek veterinary treatment and ignored advice.

Ann Sim, 36, of Illfracombe, Devon, admitted three offences of causing unnecessary suffering to horses and ponies in her care and one of failing to meet the needs of a filly between 13 June and 13 September 2019, when she appeared at Exeter Magistrates’ Court on 11 February.

In total 26 horses were taken from North Devon Equine Rescue, Barnstaple.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said officers were called to the centrein March 2019 after the discovery of a severely injured horse, who had not been seen by a vet after he became trapped in fencing and later had to be put down.

“Sim was given a warning notice advising her of what she’d need to do to improve conditions for the remaining remaining horses in her care, but failed to heed the advice or seek further help,” said the spokesman.

“Officers were called again by members of the public in September with further concerns and discovered unclean conditions and horses who had not been seen by a vet.”

The spokesman said that in one dirty stable was a spotted mare, Punchy, who was in very poor bodily condition with her ribs and spine clearly visible.

“Alongside her was a foal, Willow, who was also in poor bodily condition. Another stable contained a chestnut mare, Bumble, whose feet were extremely overgrown and in need of trimming,” he said.

“A grey gelding, Tiggy, was found to have a very sore infected left eye that was partially closed and weeping, which sadly needed to be removed. None of these horses had seen a vet.”

The remaining horses were taken in by World Horse Welfare.

Inspector Marie Griffith said it was “saddening” to see the conditions at the rescue centre.

“It was unacceptable that these horses were left to suffer or failed to have their needs met,” she said.

“This was far from being malicious or intentional ill-treatment. Sim had set the rescue centre up to help horses but sadly while in her care some suffered from neglect that could have been avoided by seeking help and appropriate veterinary care.”

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The spokesman said Punchy, Bumble and Willow had since been successfully rehomed while Tiggy remains with the RSPCA and is looking for an owner.

In mitigation Sim said she had struggled to cope after the breakdown of a relationship and had been too proud to ask for help as she struggled to carry out tasks at the sanctuary while pregnant.

She was banned from keeping equines for 10 years, and was sentenced to 10 weeks in custody – suspended for 12 months. She was ordered to pay a £200 fine and a £122 victim surcharge, and cannot appeal her ban for five years.

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