Two men seen “aggressively” kicking a mare in the head and shouting at her after she collapsed while pulling a cart, have been sentenced.
Keiran Ashley Hodges, 39, of Cowen Close, Crewkerne and Haron Reginald Cooper, 27, of Furland Road, Crewkerne, were sentenced at Yeovil Magistrates Court on 4 October. At an earlier hearing the pair were found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a piebald cob mare, named Dy, by overexerting her leading to exhaustion, using excessive force, and inflicting physical violence.
The RSPCA was contacted by police on 2 April 2021 after concerns were raised by a member of the public, who had seen Cooper and Hodges with the mare and cart on the B3168 Ilminster to Curry Rivel Road, in Somerset.
The witness, who was driving past at the time, said she saw the men pulling Dy from side to side “very aggressively” by her bridle.
“From owning horses myself, I knew from the body language of the horse that she was traumatised. The horse’s feet were planted firmly on the floor, her legs were straight and her head was positioned to the sky and her eyes were bulging. She looked totally exhausted and appeared like she would not move another step,” she said.
“I pulled my car to the side of the road and watched in horror as these two men beat this poor horse. Both were pulling at her trying to get her to move and both were hitting her and were very angry. They were shouting at her while they were hitting her with their hands.”
The witness said she saw Dy rear up then collapse onto her right side.
“The horse stayed on the road, and didn’t move nor did she return to her feet. Both males started to kick her really hard in the body and head while screaming aggressively at her to get up,” she said.
An RSPCA spokesman said Dy was found to have a cut between her front legs and another deeper cut on her left elbow. She had abrasions on the corners of her mouth, bruising on her gums and a swelling over her ribs on her right side.
An equine vet examined Dy and found her injuries to be consistent with falling to the ground, “rough rein handling”, and bruising from the shaft of the cart.
In mitigation for Cooper, it was said this was “not a premeditated incident and was relatively short” and that he “did not anticipate that the horse would have behaved as she did”. For Hodges, it was said it was not his horse and “he doesn’t know much at all about horses”.
Cooper was disqualified from keeping all equines for 10 years, and cannot appeal this for five years. He must carry out 300 hours of unpaid work and 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days, and pay costs of £800, plus a £95 victim surcharge.
Hodges was banned from keeping equines for five years and cannot appeal this for three years. He must carry our five rehabilitation activity requirement days, pay a £180 fine and a £95 victim surcharge.
The court deprived Cooper of the ownership of Dy, who has been cared for by the RSPCA since she was seized in April last year. She can now be rehomed by the charity.
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