Authorities investigate after man flicks cigarette lighter at young horse’s nose during competition

  • Authorities are investigating an incident of a cigarette lighter flicked at a young horse’s nose during a showing class – as the handler of the filly insists he has done nothing wrong.

    RSPCA Cymru and the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society are aware of the incident, at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair on 27 November.

    Video shared online, which has since been deleted, shows Willows Jubilee Queen, handled by Decland Davies, in the line-up of a coloured yearling class. Decland could be seen flicking a lighter, so a flame appears, at the filly’s nose.

    A spokesman for the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society told H&H: “The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society has been made aware of an incident that occurred in the equine section at this year’s winter fair. This matter is being thoroughly investigated in collaboration with the relevant breed societies. Society processes have been initiated in order to reach a full conclusion on this matter.”

    An RSPCA spokesman confirmed to H&H that the charity had had a report about a horse at the event, and that this is “currently with our operations team”.

    “We are so grateful to people who report suspected animal suffering to us and we would like to reassure people we will always look into and, if necessary, investigate any complaints made to us about animal welfare,” the spokesman said.

    Decland told H&H he could not see any issue with his actions.

    “I looked at the video and thought ‘Did I do something and someone’s taken it the wrong way?’” he said. “Not one whisker or anything [on the filly] was burned, so I don’t see the big issue.

    “I feel I’ve done nothing to harm her or put her in any discomfort; I feel it’s been taken out of context.”

    Decland added that at an everyday show with less of an atmosphere, and the crowd further away, the filly would have been concentrating on him, with her ears forward.

    “I just wanted to make her clean through the neck – she wasn’t concentrating on me as much as I wanted her to be,” he said, adding that in some US classes, people use a clicker, or a bag on the end of a stick, to achieve the same aim. “That’s all I wanted to do.

    “I had [the lighter] in my pocket and I was clicking it most of the time by my elbow, the length of my arm away. I didn’t keep it on; just a spark then off.

    “She wasn’t hurt; if she’d been burned or scared, she’d have moved away, but she didn’t move her feet, she just looked at it.

    “I might be wrong but I don’t see the issue. I’m more than happy for anyone to come and see the filly as not one strand of hair is singed. Nine out of 10, the people who have said about it haven’t got a clue.”

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