Saturday 18th of March 2023

Horse sanctuary owners banned from keeping horses

On Thursday 1st December 2016, Mr William Hand and Mr Nathan Page were banned from keeping horses having previously (20th October 2016) pleaded guilty to charges of causing unnecessary suffering to 20 horses at their Norfolk-based sanctuary, Rainbow Meadows.

Dancer when rescued

Dancer when rescued

Rainbow Meadows, based in Foulsham near Fakenham and run by Hand and Page, has been in operation since 2013. 

Since opening, both men have failed to act on the extensive advice offered to them by Redwings Horse Sanctuary veterinary surgeons and field officers, and Trading Standards Officers.

The pair failed to provide basic care for the horses in their care and failed to comply with legal improvement notices served on them under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. They have also previously had horses removed from Rainbow Meadows and rehomed to other animal charities in Norfolk.

This prosecution resulted from a visit made to Rainbow Meadows on 19th November 2015. Following assessment by attending Redwings veterinary surgeon Nicola Berryman, 20 horses were identified as being in such poor condition that they required immediate removal and veterinary attention.

Dancer suffering with strangles

Dancer suffering with strangles

Redwings were able to offer a home to 12 of those seized and as they were rescued during the festive period named them after the “Twelve Days of Christmas” carol, while World Horse Welfare offered a home to the remaining eight.

Once in a place of safety, a thorough inspection of each animal identified multiple health issues and sadly one horse had to be later put to sleep. The horses were also emaciated; indeed since their rescue six horses have increased their weight by over 100 kg and eight by over 70 kg.

On 20th October 2016, at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, the two defendants pleaded guilty to eight charges of causing unnecessary suffering to twenty horses by failing to provide an adequate diet, provide parasite control and failing to address the causes of poor body condition. They also pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to take reasonable steps to protect 7 horses from pain, suffering, injury and disease.




Dancer and Frenchie safe at Redwings

Dancer and Frenchie safe at Redwings

At the sentencing hearing on Thursday 1st December, Mr William Hand was sentenced to 15 weeks in prison translating to a 12 months suspended sentence. The judge disqualified him from keeping all equine and cloven hoofed animals for life. Mr Hand also has to pay a total of £415 in costs. Mr Nathan Page was banned from keeping equine and cloven hoofed animals for 10 years and has to pay £296 in costs.

Commenting on the case, Redwings Horse Sanctuary’s Chief Executive Lynn Cutress said:

“For the horses who have endured such unnecessary suffering, we are pleased with the guilty verdict of their owners and that justice has been served. For this type of neglect to have occurred at a place that called itself a ‘sanctuary’ is unfathomable. 

“Our attending veterinary surgeon and senior field officer said this was one of the worst cases they had seen and the difficult rescue operation took over 12 hours to complete. For the twelve horses and ponies taken into our care at Redwings the road to recovery has been a difficult one, which only emphasises the extent of their previous neglect, but we’re delighted that we were finally able to offer them that place of sanctuary they so rightly deserve.”

Sophie Leney, Head of Trading Standards, said: 

“Norfolk County Council Trading Standards always treats any incidents where commercial animals are caused unnecessary suffering extremely seriously. We hope that the sentences imposed in this case will send a clear message to animal keepers, ensuring they adopt good standards of animal husbandry and do not allow their animals to suffer.

“I would like to thank Redwings Horse Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare for the help they have provided throughout our investigation, including caring for the horses once they had been seized. Without this generous support, our service would have found it difficult to cope with relocating the number of animals involved.”

Dancer and Frenchie fully recovered at Redwings

Dancer and Frenchie fully recovered at Redwings

World Horse Welfare’s field officer Jonathan Jackson said:

“It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to see a conclusion to this case. What I will take away from this case is the memory of emaciated horses standing in pouring cold winter rain, at premises which were totally unsuitable for the care of equines. Not one of the animals objected to being loaded on to lorries and taken to a better life. It has been great to see each horse’s transformation since being in the care of our team and I am delighted that six of them are now enjoying new lives in news homes, whilst the other two will be joining our rehoming scheme very soon.”

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