Justice for neglected pregnant horses

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Two horse owners who pleaded guilty to seven charges of neglect have been given a total of nearly 400 hours community service and fines of over £2,000 each.

Serious welfare issues

The investigation into Rob Shufflebotham and Shaun Edgecox from Bradnop, Staffordshire began in April 2013 when one of World Horse Welfare’s field officers received a call from the local council about a number of horses and cattle with “serious welfare issues”.

Rachel Andrews attended the scene and found five horses kept in a large barn with a herd of cows. They were in poor health and two were heavily pregnant.

“The conditions under foot were extremely dirty and covered in cattle and horse manure,” she said. “The ventilation was very poor and there was little light. There was also a lot of dangerous farm equipment around and a number of hazards so it was completely unsuitable for all of the animals, but predominantly for those due to give birth.

Unsuitable diet

Although there was grazing outside the barn, Rachel could not ascertain how much turn-out the horses were getting.

“Judging by their body condition they were not being fed a suitable diet during the winter months, especially the pregnant mares who were very underweight for horses who were in foal,” Rachel said.

The two coloured pregnant mares, Hill Top Tilly and Dolly May, were signed over to the World Horse Welfare, along with a very young and underweight pony called Erin.

Shortly after arriving at their rescue centre in Blackpool, both mares gave birth to healthy foals. The two remaining horses Amara and Artic Splash of Inspiration were signed over to the charity shortly after.

Sick horses

“This is the best possible result we could hope for when finding such sick horses as it means that we can begin their rehabilitation instantly,” said Rachel.

Rob Shufflebotham, who owned the land and two of the horses, was ordered to pay costs of £2060. He was also given a 12-month community order and will have to work for 150 unpaid hours.

Shaun Edgecox, who owned the other three horses and the cattle, was sentenced to 240 hours of unpaid work over 12 months. He was also ordered to pay costs of £2,540.

Showing remorse

Shufflebotham still has one mare and her foal in his care, which Staffordshire county council believe he is capable of looking after – although they are closely monitoring them.

“It was encouraging to see both parties showing remorse today,” said Rachel. “It is highly unlikely that either defendant will get themselves in this situation again without asking for help first.

“The positive side to this is that both men recognised that they were unable to care adequately for large numbers of animals at that time and immediately signed their horses over to Staffordshire County Council who subsequently signed the group over to World Horse Welfare.”