Couple filmed pinning down foal and beating him with pipe as they tried to ‘train’ him

  • A couple caught on film jumping on a Shetland foal, pinning him down on the ground and beating him with a whip and a length of pipe to “train” him have been given suspended prison sentences.

    Neil Patterson, of Collingbourne Road, Burbage, and Fay Spanswick, of Bath Road Devizes, both 23, were prosecuted by the RSPCA over the footage.

    An RSPCA spokesman said the pair were twice caught on film inflicting cruelty on 11-month-old Fred, in Wiltshire last April.

    “During the two videos – lasting a total of 100 minutes – Fred, owned by Spanswick, was subjected to kicks and blows from the defendants,” the spokesman said.

    “He was jumped upon and forcibly pinned to the ground. The footage also showed them inflicting blows from a piece of piping and a riding crop.”

    The pair, who both admitted causing unnecessary suffering to Fred as they attempted to train him, were sentenced to 12 weeks’ prison, suspended for 18 months, at Swindon Magistrates’ Court on 24 May.

    They were also banned from owning, keeping or working with horses, ponies or other equines for five years. They will be able to appeal against the ban in two years’ time.

    RSPCA prosecutor Matthew Knight told the court Patterson and Spanswick were filmed attempting to train the colt in an “aggressive and inappropriate” way.

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    In March, the pair had admitted causing unnecessary suffering because of the inappropriate methods of training, rather than intentional harm.

    In mitigation, it was said that although Spanswick had previously owned Shetland ponies, all were mares and had been trained, whereas Fred was an entire colt who was unhandled. Patterson was said to have had no prior experience of training horses.

    They were each ordered to complete 10 rehabilitation days and 100 hours’ unpaid work, and pay £300 costs and a £128 victim surcharge.

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