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Horse trader jailed after pony found “severely exhausted” at Appleby fair

Robert Michael Hunter outside North and West Cumbria magistrates’ court in Carlisle earlier today

A HORSE trader whose pony was found severely exhausted and dehydrated at Appleby fair has been jailed for neglecting the animal.

RSPCA inspectors intervened after the cob gelding was seen breathing heavily and dripping with sweat on June 6 last year, and struggling badly again the following day.

The pony (photo RSPCA)

Only after negotiation and police intervention did owner Robert Michael Hunter, 34, allow his animal to be examined by a vet.

She found it was severely exhausted, had a dangerously raised heart rate and was dehydrated.

Prosecutor Steven Marsh told North and West Cumbria Magistrates’ Court in Carlisle earlier today (TUES): “She goes on to say that without veterinary treatment the horse would have been at serious risk of collapse and, subsequently, death due to the severity of exhaustion seen.” It had been treated and since made a full recovery.

The pony (photo RSPCA)

Hunter, aged 34, of Scott Hall Road, Leeds, was prosecuted and initially denied three charges. But ahead of trial he admitted two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal both by overworking the pony on June 7 and failing to provide it with routine dentistry for the previous six months. He also admitted failing to ensure its worming and dentistry needs were met during a two-year period up to last June.

Hunter, a married father-of four and “experienced horseman”, said of the family pet: “I would never ever cause that horse any unnecessary suffering that I’d have known of”.

But, jailing him for 90 days, District Judge Gerald Chalk said: “Put simply, that horse had been severely overworked and was suffering from dehydration.

“That, in my view, is either deliberate ill treatment or neglect by you, and a high level of suffering was caused to that animal.”

In addition, District Judge Chalk ordered that Hunter be deprived of the animal, and he will be disqualified from owning or keeping any equine for six years.

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