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Two men have been handed commnuity orders after leaving seven horses with no grass

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: July 23, 2014

  • A picture of one of the horses.

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Two men have been handed community orders after seven emaciated horses riddled with parasites were left in a field with no grass.

Rozinante, Lilly, Amara, Hilltop, Tilly, Dolly and May all had "clearly visible" bones when animal welfare officers visited Meridian Farm in Bradnop, near Leek. The animals were also suffering from flesh wounds and their hooves had been left to grow.

Now their owners, Shaun Edgecox and Robert Shufflebotham, have been handed 12-month community orders after admitting animal neglect.

Cannock Magistrates' Court heard that officers attended the farm on April 9 last year after receiving a tip-off about a dead calf.

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Prosecutor Khalid Mahmood said: "They found seven horses, all female, and 12 cattle at the premises.

"The back bones and hip bones of the horses were clearly visible, the fields were in a poor condition and grass wasn't grown.

"The cattle were also in a poor condition."

The pair were interviewed and Edgecox, aged 36, admitted the horses were underweight, but claimed he checked on them twice a week.

Shufflebotham, aged 49, accepted he had not cared for the animals properly because of his financial difficulties, but claimed he did not know how they had got into that state.

Following the visit, one of the horses died, five were taken into Staffordshire County Council's care and one remains at the farm.

Edgecox, of Leek Road, Endon, admitted seven counts of animal neglect and five of failing to provide horse identification documents. Shufflebotham, of Furmston Place, Leek, pleaded guilty to seven counts of animal neglect and one of failing to provide a horse passport.

Defending Edgecox, Glen Cook, said: "He wasn't going to see them every day like he should have but he didn't abandon them.

"There was some parasite treatment given, but it wasn't effective. The hoof cutting was being done, but it was every four months instead of the recommended two.

"It's not a case of long-term neglect or complete abandon. The horses were slightly underweight and there was some malnutrition but it was nothing that couldn't be reversed. The horses fully recovered."

Defending Shufflebotham, John Gallagher added: "My client is appalled to have found himself in such a position.

"There have been a number of issues in his life which have caused him to struggle. There have been no subsequent problems with animals and there have been a number of visits to the animals which have been left at the farm since and there have been no signs of further problems."

The pair were both handed 12-month community orders and ordered to carry out 390 hours of unpaid work between them. They must also pay more than £4,500 in costs.

Following the case, the county council's cabinet member for trading standards and rural affairs, said: "This case sends out a strong message that any failure to comply with animal health and welfare or public health laws are extremely serious.

"In this case there were also breaches of the horse passport rules, which have come under close scrutiny following the recent horse meat scandal."

After the animals were taken into the council's care, they were signed over to World Horse Welfare, which took them to its rescue and rehoming centre, Penny Farm in Blackpool.

Rachel Andrews, one of the group's 16 field officers, said: "This case has highlighted the seriousness of the offence to both owners and the outside world; it was encouraging to see both parties showing remorse."

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