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Vet cleared of punching horse

A vet charged last week with professional misconduct by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) after allegedly punching his horse at an inter hunt relay was cleared yesterday by a RCVS disciplinary hearing.

Witnesses at the Lower Chapel Show at Brecon in August 2005 accused Mr Lodewijk De Smet, a Llanelli-based vet, of hitting his horse on the head while competing for the Banwen Miners’ Hunt in the hunt relay. But yesterday the RCVS Disciplinary Committee agreed Mr De Smet was not guilty of disgraceful professional conduct.

Mr De Smet admitted to the committee that he had lost his temper and shouted and sworn repeatedly after losing the race but he denied hitting his horse. However two witnesses for the RCVS – Mrs Karen Archer and Mrs Diane James – stated at yesterday’s hearing that they had seen Mr De Smet hit his horse’s head with his fist, just below its right ear.

The witnesses added that the event had been “blown out of all proportion” and should have been dealt with at local level. The RCVS disciplinary committee ruled that the punch caused no damage to the horse and was an “isolated” incident.

RCVS disciplinary committee chairman Brian Jennings said: “We believe the contact between the rider’s hand and the horse’s head as described…was an isolated and fleeting incident, and of such a nature as to be much more likely to injure the rider than the horse.”

The committee concluded the incident was unsporting and fell short of what was expected of a vet but was not serious enough to charge Mr De Smet with disgraceful conduct.

“The RCVS saw it for what it was,” Mr De Smet told HHO. “There was no case to answer.”

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