SPCA New Zealand

SPCA prosecutes Northland woman for neglecting her elderly horse

04 August 2021
SPCA prosecutes Northland woman for neglecting her elderly horse

A woman has been prosecuted by SPCA after her horse was found emaciated and with hoof and dental issues.

The woman was found guilty of two animal welfare charges after she failed to feed her 34-year-old horse, and for not attending to his health needs. She was sentenced in the Kaikohe District Court to 350 hours’ community work and a $500 fine. She was also ordered to pay reparations of $2,765.63 to SPCA, $500 toward legal costs and $130 court costs, and disqualified from owning horses for a period of 3 years.

SPCA inspectors first visited the defendant’s property in 2018 in response to a complaint regarding the condition of two horses. One of the horses, was found to be underweight. At the Inspector’s request, a veterinarian attended and examined the horse. It was decided that no further action was required at the time.

In January 2019, Inspectors returned to the property and found that the horse had deteriorated significantly. He was in emaciated body condition, and there was minimal grass cover in the paddock and no evidence of hard feed or hay being given. The horse was also wearing a thick cover which was not appropriate for the time of year, and was causing him to sweat and overheat in the summer heat.

When the defendant was interviewed, she admitted that she had put the cover on the horse to stop complaints about his condition. The horse’s hair was severely matted, showing that he had not been brushed nor able to roll and dislodge the hair naturally. His overgrown hooves were in poor condition, with cracking running up the hoof, and a vet found that he had dental issues that were giving him ulcers. He also had a parasite infection.

The horse was taken by SPCA and put on a feeding programme that included dentistry, enabling him to eat without pain. He gradually improved to a healthy weight.

SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen says horses have complex needs and that looking after them is a big responsibility.

“Horses require a lot of time, hard work, and money to ensure they stay happy and healthy. Because horses can live well into their thirties, it is crucial that an owner has resources and time to give them the care they need,” she says.

“It is devastating that in these golden years, the horse was suffering in silence. It is incomprehensible that his experienced owner deliberately tried to hide his condition. At a minimum, basic horse husbandry requires horses to be checked daily for any changes in their appearance or behaviour.”

Ms Midgen also said that proper nutrition and maintaining a clean and safe environment with the opportunity to exercise is also vital to a horse’s health.

When interviewed, the defendant stated that she had owned the horse for twelve years, and was an active horsewoman.

Since he was rescued by SPCA, the horse has been successfully rehabilitated and rehomed, and is doing well with his new owner.

SPCA has a guide available with tips for how to care for horses, which can be found under our 'Advice and Welfare' section.

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