A HORSE owner who failed to get veterinary treatment for his starving horse has been given banned from keeping equines for ten years.

George Turner, 36, of Broad Balk Lane, York, had denied two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to the thoroughbred-type filly and failing to meet her needs by providing a suitable diet, but was found guilty of both offences after a trial at York Magistrates Court on December 12 and 14, following a prosecution by the RSPCA.

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The animal welfare charity became involved in the case after being contacted by a concerned member of the public, who sent in photos of the horse’s emaciated condition.

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At a sentencing hearing on January 10, the charity say Turner was given an 18-week custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, and disqualified from keeping all equines for ten years.

York Press: The starving horseThe starving horse (Image: RSPCA)

Magistrates heard how RSPCA inspector Alice Cooper, along with an equine veterinary surgeon, two police officers and a representative from the charity World Horse Welfare had visited Turner’s field in Norton-Le-Clay in November 2020 where the filly, and four other adult thoroughbred-type horses, were being kept.

Turner appeared at the location and confirmed that all the horses were his and watched as the vet examined the young horse. In her evidence, inspector Cooper said: “The horse was very thin. Her spine was prominent and protruded like a ridge along her back, and the bones around her back end looked sharp and pointy. Her demeanour seemed very subdued, and she stood with her head bowed. When walking she appeared slow and quite weak.”

The horse also had extensive rainscald across her back and rump but had not been provided with any shelter to escape adverse weather conditions.

York Press: The starving horse had to be put to sleepThe starving horse had to be put to sleep (Image: RSPCA)

The vet confirmed the filly was suffering and she was seized by the police. Such was her weak condition that when transportation arrived, she collapsed as she stepped onto the trailer and had to be supported back to her feet with a strap placed around her middle.

Magistrates heard how the horse was initially taken to a specialist equine hospital for treatment and then onto a boarding establishment, where most days she had to be assisted to stand up. Her condition then sadly deteriorated even further and vets made the decision to put her to sleep on humane grounds to prevent further suffering.

A post mortem revealed she had an emaciated body condition, extensive ulceration of the stomach - which may have been predisposed by a lack of adequate food - and a heavy worm burden.

In her evidence to the court, the vet said it was her professional opinion that it would have taken a minimum of six weeks for the filly to become emaciated and that she’d been caused to suffer unnecessarily for at least two weeks.

In addition to the suspended prison sentence and ten-year ban, magistrates - who deemed the offence one of high culpability - also ordered Turner to pay costs of £1,928, a victim surcharge of £128 and issued a deprivation order for the four remaining horses he owns. Throughout the trial, Turner stated he had not done anything wrong and said he didn’t want to be disqualified from keeping equines as he had knowledge of horses and had been successful in raising them in the past.

In mitigation he said he had financial difficulties but did not produce any details to corroborate his circumstances.