Wednesday 16th of June 2021

Owner of emaciated horse banned from keeping equines for life

Philip Strachan appeared at Beverley Magistrates Court on Wednesday (6th Sept) and pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering and failing to meet the needs of an aged Thoroughbred mare in his care.

Mr Strachan admitted offences under Section 4 and Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, in a prosecution case brought by the RSPCA, after his elderly mare, Tessa, was found severely emaciated, suffering a severe lice infestation and open wound which had not been treated. In addition, she only had access to a shelter with filthy bedding.

World Horse Welfare Field Officer, Sarah Tucker, was alerted to the horse being kept in the village of Lund, East Yorkshire, by a caller to the charity’s welfare line in March 2017. She said:

“I attended the location on a cold, miserable wet day where I found a bay Thoroughbred-type mare wearing a thin blue rug. 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.. I contacted RSPCA Inspector Claire Mitchell and Veterinary Surgeon, Kirsty Nelson of Aldgate Vets, Driffield, and asked them to attend the location. 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. 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.

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

RSPCA Inspector Claire Mitchell said:

“Tessa was the thinnest horse I have ever seen. She was very wobbly on her feet and in the state she was in, at her age, the outlook wasn’t good. 

“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.

“Just because an animal is aged doesn’t mean it is normal and okay for him or her to be suffering – if you’ve got an old animal and they are thin or ill then there is something wrong and they need to be seen by a vet.”

Tessa was removed to safety and a place where she could receive the dedicated care and veterinary attention she so desperately needed but unfortunately she was in such a terrible state that she collapsed and the decision was sadly made to put her to sleep 72 hours after her rescue.

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

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

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