An award-winning Norfolk man has been banned from looking after horses for 10 years for causing unnecessary suffering to a Shetland pony.
Michael Balls, 60, of The Glebe, Horning won awards for his work with equines at the Norfolk Show in 2008 and the Aylsham show, but was handed the ban by Yarmouth magistrates yesterday after the court heard the pony had been left in chronic pain due to an inflammatory disease in its hooves.
The court heard RSPCA inspector Ben Kirby reported how the black pony, known as Timmy, had “the longest feet he had ever seen” due to swelling caused by the condition laminitis when he visited Timmy in a field off School Common Road, Happisburgh.
At an earlier hearing Balls had pleaded guilty to cuasing unnecessary suffering and failing to meet the pony’s welfare needs at Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
Kevin Batch, prosecuting, said a vet and field officer from Redwings Horse Sanctuary at Fritton were already present when Mr Kirby arrived in May.
The vet, Nicolas De Brauwere, found the pony was significantly overweight and reluctant to move when coaxed.
He said the hooves were significantly overgrown causing lameness and the pony could only walk out of the stable after pain relief had been given.
Mr Batch said in RSPCA interviews Balls said the pony’s hooves had not been trimmed for six months, when it should be between six and eight weeks and could not remember the last time the animal was seen by a farrier, who specialises in hoof care.
The prosecutor added Timmy had since been moved to the Redwings sanctuary and was starting to recover after the hooves were trimmed, but still needed pain relief to walk properly some two months after the inspector’s visit.
Robert Pollington, mitigating, said when Balls realised the pony was suffering from laminitis, he took him away from grass, which would have aggravated the condition and fed him with hay.
He added the defendant had tried to trim the hooves, but they started to bleed and cause Timmy more pain so he decided not to continue.
Mr Pollington said Balls had also lost his job as a farmworker which meant he could not afford to pay vet costs and tried to treat Timmy’s condition himself.
He added the defendant, who has owned horses for 30 years, also owned another horse which was in good condition and said this horse would have to be re-homed with a friend if he was banned from looking after horses.
As well as the 10 year ban, Balls was also ordered to pay £500 costs.
Following the hearing, Mr Kirby said: “We are very pleased with the result. It is reasonable and proportional and we will obviously monitor the situation to make sure the ban is adhered to.”
Originally reported by Norwich Evening News: http://www.eveningnews24.co.uk/news/horning_owner_banned_from_keeping_horses_for_10_years