Grand prix dressage rider found guilty of causing horses suffering

  • A grand prix level dressage rider has been found guilty of neglecting and causing suffering to five young horses.

    Sam Duckworth, of Newmarket Road, Cambridgeshire, was at Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court on 9 November, to conclude a trial that had run on 11 days in September and October.

    The 42-year-old was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to five young horses in his care – three fillies and two colts – by failing to investigate and address the cause of their poor body condition and weight loss.

    He was also found guilty of failing to take steps to meet the needs of the same five horses, having failed to provide an adequate parasite control plan, required farriery and a suitable diet, and failing to seek veterinary attention in respect of the animals’ poor condition.

    After the guilty verdict, RSPCA inspector and equine officer Suzi Smith said: “As an experienced horsewoman, it is very difficult for me to see any horses in such poor condition, especially for these youngsters who have been given such a poor start in life, when they should have been receiving professional care.

    “It is always frustrating when a horse owner does not follow veterinary advice. It’s unacceptable for anyone to cause an animal to suffer, and particularly someone who is responsible for animals in a professional capacity.”

    In a witness statement, the vet who examined the horses said: “The body condition score of the five animals was unacceptably low and the animals were caused suffering. In my opinion, the cause of the poor body condition score was due to a combination of a heavy worm burden and malnutrition / starvation.”

    The vet also noted that “the poor body condition score had been brought to the owner’s attention in October 2020 and he allegedly followed veterinary advice, which included advice on worming and feeding.  If the advice had been followed, then a definite improvement in the body condition score would have been expected over this two-month period.  Furthermore, if there was no improvement then further veterinary advice should have been sought, which did not appear to happen. On the basis of these timings, I conclude that on 12 January 2021 these animals have been caused suffering for at least six weeks.”

    Sam Duckworth is due to appear in court for sentencing on Tuesday 6 December.

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