U.K. Couple Sentenced in Pony Obesity Cruelty Case

A couple in the United Kingdom have become the first horse owners convicted of obesity-related animal cruelty under that country's Animal Welfare Act, said a report from Horse and Hound. The Act stipulates that owners must provide a suitable diet for their animals.

Keith and Lynn Hall of Blackpool, England, were charged with animal cruelty in 2008 after equine welfare authorities removed an obese Shetland pony stallion from their care. A lame Shetland pony mare was also seized in the case. Last month, a court fined the couple and banned them from keeping horses for five years.

Equine obesity contributes to life-threatening conditions including laminitis and insulin resistance. In some states, owners of obese equines also risk prosecution.

"In Maryland it constitutes neglect," said Sue Mitchell, director of development for Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Lisbon, Md.

In the United States, obesity-related equine cruelty statistics are low. Ange Olt, DVM, of Greensburg, Ky., said she believes owner education is key to keeping them that way.

"People (who feed horses too much) think they're taking very good care of them," she said. "They need to learn how to recognize an obese horse."

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About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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