Expert who made her horses suffer escapes a ban

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AN expert who left five ponies to suffer for eight weeks escaped a ban on keeping animals when she appeared at Spalding Magistrates’ Court for sentence on Tuesday.

AN expert who left five ponies to suffer for eight weeks escaped a ban on keeping animals when she appeared at Spalding Magistrates’ Court for sentence on Tuesday.

Linda Jane Grant (56) won prizes at shows and taught others how to care for horses but failed to provide enough food and parasitic control for her own ponies – or to address the animals’ poor bodily condition and weight loss between January 26 and March 23 this year.

Three of the ponies were so under nourished they were less than two thirds of the weight recommended by a vet.

Grant, a secondary school maths and PE teacher, was sentenced to a community order and must do 150 hours’ unpaid work.

She was also ordered to pay RSPCA prosecution costs of £2,088.97.

Magistrates ordered that a further £3,736.89 paid by the RSPCA to vets in the case should be awarded from central funds.

Grant, of Broadgate, Weston Hills, shed tears as presiding magistrate Gillian Wild announced sentence.

Mrs Wild said magistrates had decided after a lot of discussion not to disqualify her from keeping animals.

She said: “We believe that you will not ill treat horses in the future – and that this has been a tremendous shock and that you have shown tremendous remorse and shame.

“I am sure you understand if anything like this happens again that will be the end of it.

“We know how much the horses mean to your life so we are not disqualifying you.”

The court heard that since the RSPCA swooped on the Moulton Chapel field where the ponies were kept, Grant has continued to show her other horses – which are well cared for and stabled close to home – and has won national awards.

Grant pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.

At Tuesday’s resumed hearing, solicitor Beris Brickles reminded the court that Grant voluntarily signed over her five malnourished ponies to RSPCA care and they are now fit and well.

He said horse condition is measured on a scale of zero to five – five is overweight and three is ideal.

Three of Grant’s ponies were rated 0.5 and two were rated one.

Among conditions detected were muscle wastage, hair loss, diarrhoea, lice infestation and tape worm infection.

Mr Brickles said when interviewed by the RPSCA, Grant said she was having difficulty sleeping and knew she had done the wrong thing.

She told the RSPCA inspector: “I do love my ponies but I made the wrong decisions.”

Mr Brickles asked magistrates to consider a disqualification order – which could be drafted to ban Grant from keeping horses or all animals – but pointed out any such order is deigned to protect animals and is not a punishment.

Solicitor Phil Cookson, mitigating, said a mixture of family and financial pressures had created the “perfect storm” and the ponies were neglected during that time.

He said despite the attendant publicity surrounding her case – or perhaps because of it – Grant had continued to show her horses and had won national prizes.

Mr Cookson handed in photographs of horses currently in Grant’s care and details of prizes won.