A man and woman convicted of abusing a Shetland pony called Fred have been sentenced at Swindon Magistrates’ Court.
Codefendants Fay Spanswick, 22, and Adam Patterson, 23, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal between 13 and 17 April last year.
Prosecuting for the RSPCA, Matthew Knight told the court the pair were filmed by a witness training the pony in a field off Westcourt Lane, Burbage, using “aggressive and inappropriate” methods.
During the two videos filmed by the witness – lasting a total of 100 minutes – Fred, owned by Spanswick, was seen to be subjected to kicks and blows from the defendants. He was also jumped upon and forcibly pinned to the ground. The footage also showed them inflicting blows from a piece of piping and a riding crop.
Whilst Mr Knight accepted it wasn’t purposeful harm inflicted on the pony, the pair used violent and inappropriate methods of training which would have been “very frightening” for the animal.
The Shetland pony, aged 11-month-old, didn’t suffer any lasting injuries and has since been signed over to the RSPCA.
Terry McCarthy, defending, said Spanswick previously Shetland ponies and had taken them to shows.
He said the previous ponies were all mares. She’d acquired Fred after visiting him once whilst he was in a stable. He had not been handled and the pony was outside of her experience.
Due to difficulties with her relationship with her parents, she didn’t feel comfortable consulting with her mother who has more experience training ponies. Instead, she used methods of training she had found elsewhere.
He said Patterson has much less involvement in the training, only assisting Spanswick. He has no, or very limited, experience with horses.
Mr McCarthy said the pair had faced a wealth of abuse following the publication of a news story on Wiltshire Today reporting their crimes in March.
Patterson, of Marr Green Farm, Burbage, and Spanswick, of The Dairy, Bath Road, Devizes, were both sentenced to 12 weeks suspended for 18 months. They were also ordered to complete 120 hours of unpaid work and 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days.
The pair were also disqualified from owning or having contact with equines for five years. The ruling cannot be appealed for two years.