A horse owner has been banned from keeping horses for 25 years and sentenced to 180hr community service because he let five ponies get so fat that they suffered agonising laminitis. He was also ordered to pay £3,000 in costs.

In sharp contrast to the majority of neglect cases, Fenland Magistrates Court found John Lock of Tydd St Mary, Cambs, guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to the four Welsh ponies and one part-bred Connemara after they were found to be obese and crippled with laminitis.

Michael Taylor, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, told the court that the most obese pony was so fat that its skin was under tension.

“It was more than just in danger of suffering — it was in urgent need of treatment. This state of obesity would have taken a long time to develop and shows complete neglect,” he said.

Another pony had hooves that curled away from the ground, while the ponies’ field was full of ragwort and nettles and they had no access to water or shelter.

In mitigation, the defendant cited family health problems and said that a vet and a farrier were due to visit the ponies the day after the RSPCA inspector was called in.

RSPCA chief veterinary officer David McDowell comments: “While this type of case does not happen every day, it is sadly far from a rarity. In the majority of cases, laminitis is entirely preventable, and even where it occurs we would not prosecute if we believed the owner had done everything possible to treat it.”

  • Read the full story in this Thursday’s Horse & Hound (18 September).

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