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Carriage driver jailed for cruelty

Arthur, a black cob who was abused while working as a carriage horse for visitors in Norwich, has been rescued while his inexperienced owner is sent to jail

A 54-year-old Norfolk man was sentenced to 28 days in prison at Norwich Magistrates Court earlier this week for causing unnecessary suffering to an 18-year-old driving horse.

Frederick Arthur Agombar of Little Witchingham, near Norwich, was using Arthur (pictured left, picture courtesy of the Evening News (Norwich)), a 14.3hh black cob gelding, to take visitors on carriage tours around Norwich City centre last summer.

Following a call from a concerned member of the public, a joint ILPH/RSPCA operation found Arthur was suffering from large open sores on his back due to badly fitting harness and a poorly designed cart, which weighed around half a tonne.

The horse was also working unshod except for Australian boots, which were being used on all four feet and were described by the ILPH as “wholly unsuitable for the purpose for which they were being used”.

Frederick is believed to have had no experience of handling or driving horses prior to setting up in business in May 2002 and avoided interference by local authorities by describing his service as an “omnibus”, rather than a hackney carriage, according to ILPH field officer Jacko Jackson.

“Agombar created a smokescreen for the council, which unfortunately didn’t follow the Department for Transport’s (DFT) code of practice for horse drawn vehicles,” says Jacko.

“Although the DFT code of practice is excellent it’s only a guide and as such is not enforceable, which means people with no related horse experience such as Agombar, can set up in business unregulated.”

The DFT’s extensive code of practice for horse drawn vehicles used to carry fare paying passengers was drawn up with help from the British Driving Society, including advice from top driver John Parker. It covers:

  • driver competence
  • vehicle safety
  • animal welfare

“The ILPH would like to see enforceable regulations along the lines of the DFT Code of Practice to ensure good practice and the welfare of the horses,” says Jacko Johnson.

Frederick was also given a five-year ban on keeping non-domestic animals and the horse, cart, and harness were confiscated. He appealed against the sentence but lost.

Arthur is being cared for by the ILPH at its Norfolk head office and will be available for rehoming once fully recovered.

For more information about the ILPH’s work visit www.ilph.org

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