Horse expert made her own ponies suffer

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A HORSE expert – who won prizes at shows and taught others how to care for horses – neglected five of her own ponies.

A HORSE expert – who won prizes at shows and taught others how to care for horses – neglected five of her own ponies.

For eight weeks they were poorly fed by Linda Jane Grant, leaving them seriously underweight and in poor bodily condition.

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

Spalding magistrates heard that RSPCA inspector Andy Bostock visited the field in March, saw the animals in poor bodily condition and noted the grazing was poor with sparse grass cover. The field was heavily contaminated with faeces.

There were two bales of hay some distance away from but there was no way the ponies could reach it.

Beris Brickles, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said horse condition is measured on a scale of 0 to 5 – 5 being best. Three of Grant’s ponies were rated 0.5 and two were rated 1.

Mr Brickles said Insp Bostock asked Grant why she had not supplied supplemental ‘hard food’ to the ponies and she replied: “The cost – because hard food has gone through the roof. What used to be £7 a bag is now £10 a bag.”

Grant (56) allowed the animal charity to take the ponies from a field known as Snake Hall, at Moulton Chapel, and re-home them.

Three ponies were less than two-thirds of the weight recommended by a vet.

The court heard that 14 other horses or ponies kept at Grant’s home in Broadgate, Weston Hills, were well cared for, but solicitor Mr Brickles asked magistrates to consider disqualifying Grant from keeping animals.

Grant, a schoolteacher, pleaded guilty to three charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal between January 26 and March 23.

Charges involved failing to provide adequate nutrition, failing to provide adequate parasitic control and failing to investigate and address the animals’ poor bodily condition and weight loss.

Magistrates adjourned sentence to August 30 for a probation report.

Presiding magistrate John Reynolds said the court is looking at “a medium length community order” rather than prison.

Mr Reynolds told Grant: “The harm caused to these animals was serious.”

No decision has been made on a potential banning order for keeping animals.

Phil Cookson, mitigating, said he understood the horse condition scale to run from 0 to 5 but with 5 being overweight and 3 being optimum.

He said Grant had taught in a local school for 35 years and, as part of her teaching role, had run courses in horse care for the BTec qualification.

Mr Cookson said Grant had kept horses and ponies for 50 years, winning prizes at shows.

He said: “Throughout that time there has never been a single question in relation to the care she gave those animals.”

Mr Cookson said a mixture of family and financial worries had created “the perfect storm” and during that time “those ponies were out of sight and largely out of her mind”.

Mr Cookson handed in a collection of references from people in the horse world who said her ponies were well turned out and to a high standard.