Man fined $10,000 after pony left with deformed hooves

A Palmerston North man has been sentenced after neglecting to provide appropriate medical care for his pony - resulting in it having to be euthanised.

Michael Booth pled guilty in the Palmerston North District Court to one charge of recklessly ill-treating a pony, causing the pony to suffer unreasonable and unnecessary pain and distress.

He received a three-year disqualification in relation to horses, a $10,000 fine payable to SPCA, and ordered to pay reparations of $264.70.

The case began in November 2017 when an SPCA Inspector visited the defendant’s property and saw Poncho, a grey pony with extremely overgrown and misshapen hooves. 

A veterinarian was called immediately to assess Poncho.  

The vet recommended euthanasia to end Poncho's pain and suffering.
The vet recommended euthanasia to end Poncho's pain and suffering. Photo credit: Supplied

The vet found that Poncho was reluctant to move and was weight shifting on all four feet.  All four of Poncho's feet were grossly long and his toes curled upwards instead of contacting the ground. 

The vet estimated that it would have taken approximately one and a half to two years for Poncho's hooves to grow to this point. 

The veterinarian diagnosed Poncho with chronic, active inflammation laminitis, and said that it was the most severe and chronic case of laminitis she had ever seen.  She noted that Poncho's laminitis was inadequately managed, causing permanent and irreversible damage to his feet, disablement that rendered him barely able to walk, and prolonged pain and suffering.

Poncho had extremely overgrown and misshapen hooves.
Poncho had extremely overgrown and misshapen hooves. Photo credit: Supplied

Due to the extent of his active laminitis, the guarded prognosis, and the possibility that Poncho would continue to be in pain for months or even years if corrective treatment was given, the vet recommended euthanasia to end Poncho's pain and suffering.

When interviewed, the defendant stated that he was aware horses needed their hooves trimmed every six to eight weeks and that he had done most of the work on Poncho's hooves.  

When asked why a farrier had not seen Poncho he said, "it was just one of those things.  He was out of sight, out of mind."

 SPCA CEO, Andrea Midgen said it was a terrible case

"Poncho lived in a state of quiet desperation for a long time, suffering immeasurably," she said.  

SPCA CEO, Andrea Midgen.
SPCA CEO, Andrea Midgen. Photo credit: Newshub

"Unfortunately, SPCA Inspectors see this type of neglect all too often, whereby laminitis is not managed appropriately, for example restricting access to grass and feed, the provision of pain relief or seeking appropriate corrective trimming," said Midgen.

She said horses had complex needs and required specific care from their owner and it was unacceptable to simply put a horse in a paddock and forget about it.  

"This case is a perfect example of what happens when a horse is neglected, resulting in the suffering of an animal that was entirely preventable.”