Stallion found with headcollar embedded in his face suffered ‘unnecessary pain’

  • The owner of a stallion found with a headcollar embedded in his face causing a deep wound has been banned from owning horses for three years.

    George Robert Watson, 51, of Cedar Terrace, West Cornforth, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to Delboy, at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court on 14 February.

    The court heard Delboy was found wearing a headcollar that was so tight, the metal clip had dug into his face.

    “An RSPCA inspector attended the field close to the A1 near Bishop Middleham, Ferryhill, on 5 May 2023, after concerns were raised to the charity about the welfare of a horse,” an RSPCA spokesman said, adding that the inspector immediately noticed the embedded headcollar buckle.

    In a witness statement, the inspector said: “The clip on the left-hand side of Delboy’s face had dug into the side of his cheek and caused a deep gash, which was oozing pus. The whole left-hand side of the pony’s face was extremely swollen, it was noticeable from a distance away.”

    An equine vet who examined Delboy confirmed he was suffering, and the RSPCA took him for veterinary treatment.

    In his witness statement, the vet said: “The soft tissues around the wound were swollen and tender, the wound where the clip was embedded was painful and the horse did react to me removing the clip. These wounds could have been easily prevented by the owner not allowing such a tight headcollar – I believe it had most likely been in place for several weeks at a minimum.

    “By failing to identify a tight headcollar, which therefore caused painful wounds to the face, and by failing to identify wounds that were present and immediately removing the headcollar and seeking veterinary attention to provide first aid and pain relief as a minimum, it is my professional opinion that this owner has caused unnecessary pain and suffering to this horse.”

    Watson signed Delboy into the RSPCA’s care, where he has recovered well and will be a candidate for rehoming in future, the charity spokesman said.

    After sentencing, the RSPCA inspector said:  “I’m pleased we were able to get Delboy to safety and have his wounds treated. It’s so important that horse owners regularly check on their animals for signs of discomfort or poor health, especially when they are left wearing headcollars or rugs for any length of time. I’m so pleased that Delboy has made such a good recovery from his wounds, and that he will now go on to be adopted into a loving new home.”

    In mitigation for Watson, it was heard that a relationship break-up and a foot injury were factors.

    He was banned from owning horses for three years and ordered to pay a £300 fine, a victim surcharge of £80 and costs of £725.

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