Owner left elderly mare battling for her life in ‘pitiful state’

  • A man has been banned from owning horses for life after he left an elderly mare to suffer in a “pitiful state”.

    Philip Strachan of Stocks Drive, Goole, appeared at Beverley Magistrates Court on 6 September and pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering and failing to meet the needs of a horse in his care.

    Strachan, 64, admitted offences under Section 4 and Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, in a prosecution case brought by the RSPCA, after his horse, Tessa, was found severely emaciated, suffering a severe lice infestation and an open wound that had not been treated.

    World Horse Welfare field officer, Sarah Tucker, was alerted to Tessa’s suffering by a member of the public who called the charity’s welfare line in March.

    “I attended the location on a cold, miserable wet day where I found a bay thoroughbred-type mare wearing a thin blue rug,” said Ms Tucker.

    “Even through the rug I could see her hips and pelvic bones sticking out. There was a man-made shelter within the field which had dirty, wet faecal contaminated bedding inside.”

    Ms Tucker contacted RSPCA inspector Claire Mitchell and veterinary surgeon, Kirsty Nelson of Aldgate Vets, Driffield, and asked them to come to Tessa’s field.

    “Once they arrived, we removed the rug and found a large wound on her withers that had scabbed and had become attached to the rug,” said Ms Tucker. “Her coat was dull and she had a severe lice infestation.

    “Tessa was an old mare who should have been receiving extra care, not to be left in a field struggling. Seeing her stood alone in the field with only a thin sheet for warmth she looked in a pitiful state, all of her bones were protruding and her body was covered in lice.

    “Seeing any animal in an emaciated state is shocking, but this situation was totally unnecessary and could easily been prevented by providing basic care with palatable food, a deep clean bed and an appropriate rug to help maintain body condition.”

    RSPCA inspector Claire Mitchell said Tessa was the thinnest horse she has ever seen.

    “She was very wobbly on her feet and in the state she was in, at her age, the outlook wasn’t good,” she said.

    “This was a really sad and upsetting case — all animals need a bit of extra TLC when they get older but Tessa didn’t get it, and she suffered as a result.”

    Tessa was taken to a yard where she could receive the dedicated care and veterinary attention, but unfortunately she was in such a bad state that she collapsed and the decision was made to put her to sleep 72 hours after her rescue.

    Philip Strachan was disqualified from keeping all equines for life, given a 12-week custodial sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay £300 in costs.

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    In mitigation the court heard that the defendant was very sorry for what had happened.

    “Caring for an elderly animal always comes with additional challenges, but it is vital that owners seek veterinary advice when appropriate and ensure their needs are being met,” added Ms Tucker.

    “It is unacceptable to leave any animal in its twilight years without providing additional care. Anyone concerned about a horse or in need of advice should call World Horse Welfare’s welfare line on 08000 480 180.”

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