Lame ponies result in animal ban order

The mother-and-son were prosecuted by the RSPCA
The mother-and-son were prosecuted by the RSPCA
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A mother-and-son who allowed three ponies to go lame had been offered repeated assistance by the RSPCA, a court heard.

Repeated warnings were given to Lorraine Ashurst and Declan Ashurst O’Shaughnessy, who kept horses on land at Barlow’s Farm in Hindley, Wigan and Leigh magistrates were told.

The RSPCA has also received a number of complaints regarding horses escaping from the land, off Close Lane, and wandering onto nearby roads, the court heard.

Court orders have now been granted to allow the RSPCA to take all horses, ponies and any other animals found on the land into their care.

Magistrates heard that the three ponies in question were brought to the RSPCA’s attention on February 21. An inspector visited and a note was left for the owners, with a follow-up arranged for March 1.

Carmel Wilde, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said on the second occasion one Palomino mare was found to be suffering from a foot abscess and laminitis, an inflammatory condition affecting the lining of hooves.

A chestnut gelding had an abscess to its left foreleg and a grey mare, after examination by a vet, was found to be suffering from osteoarthritis in its right foreleg, the court heard.

Their health had also suffered as they had not been placed on a proper worming regime, added Miss Wilde.

Applying for a deprivation order, she said: "It is not clear that any arrangements have been made for the horses to be transported elsewhere."

Ashurst O’Shaughnessy, who is a mental health worker in the Warrington area, pleaded with the court not to disqualify him from keeping horses.

He said: "Horses have been my life and I have built up a reputation with them, giving advice and showing them."

He told the court he had agreed to sign over a number of horses to the RSPCA previously, effectively behind his mother’s back, when there were concerns over their welfare in the past.

Before his parents split several years ago they had looked after horses together, he added.

When his father left, he said, he felt she should have stepped away from their joint interest as it had started getting too much for her.

Several potential owners had been found for the remaining horses and ponies on the land, he said.

He also confirmed that a number of horses left there still belonged to his sister.

Ashurst O’Shaughnessy, 24, of Bolton Road, Atherton, and his mother, of Cameron Street, Leigh, had denied three offences of causing unnecessary suffering to the ponies and one charge of failing to ensure the animals’ welfare but were convicted after a trial in November. Magistrates sentenced Ashurst O’Shaughnessy to 150 hours community service and ordered him to pay £1,000 court costs with an £85 victim surcharge.

The court also granted a deprivation order, so the ponies, and a foal born to one of them, could be signed over to the RSPCA and banned him from keeping animals for five years.

An order was also secured to enable the charity to seize all remaining animals on the land for rehoming purposes.

Ashurst has failed to attend two court hearings and there is currently a warrant outstanding for her arrest.

Probation officers confirmed that the mother and son had a "volatile relationship" and they had not spoken since their conviction at trial.