Woman banned from keeping horses for five years over emaciated pony

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Eve the ponyImage source, Scottish SPCA
Image caption,
Eve's ribs could be seen when she was found

A woman has been banned from keeping horses for five years after she admitted causing an emaciated pony unnecessary suffering in Aberdeenshire.

Gail Vines, 64, of Laurencekirk, had several horses in a field in Drumoak.

Concern was raised in February last year, and the Scottish SPCA found one pony so thin that its ribs protruded.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court was told Vines had looked after horses for more than 50 years and that the offence was out of character.

Fiscal depute Victoria Kerr said the Scottish SPCA saw a pony standing on its own beside a feeder and it was emaciated with its head hanging.

A vet was called in and the pony, called Eve, was removed. She was described as severely underweight, and also had diarrhoea, lesions, and lice.

Image source, Scottish SPCA
Image caption,
Eve made a good recovery

Defence lawyer Gregor Kelly said his client accepted it was an "act of omission" and that she would not knowingly maltreat an animal.

He said the offence happened at a difficult time in her personal life.

Mr Kelly said Vines would check in on the animals and at the time of year was shining a torch to see them, but missed the fact Eve was suffering.

'Great shame'

He said it was not the case there was not food there, but that Eve had developed a digestive problem.

Mr Kelly said she was "horrified" to realise how bad the pony's condition was, and felt "great shame".

He said she was well-regarded in the equine community, and that the circumstances were a "blip".

All the animals were rehoused.

Sheriff Philip Mann said such cases were always difficult to deal with due to public interest in the protection of animals.

He said she had "glowing references" and had until this case cared for horses to a good standard.

He said there would be a disqualification from owning or keeping any horse for five years, and that he recognised this would act as a punishment so would not impose anything further.