Justice after ponies neglected

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A rescue centre which nursed emaciated ponies back to full health has seen the woman responsible banned from keeping horses for five years.

Rainbow Bridge Equine Rescue, which is based in Wilmington, took Tommy, Tiggy, Doodles and Ernie in to its care in December 2011. The ill ponies were starving hungry and living in terrible conditions. The ponies were rescued from Forebays stable yard in Eglantine Lane, Horton Kirby, Kent.

Christine Hawkins, 49, of Ash Road in Hawley, was the woman in charge of the stables and was meant to care for the ponies.

On Monday (October 15) she pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and one charge of failing to ensure animal welfare at Dartford Magistrates Court.

The team at Rainbow Bridge worked closely with RSPCA throughout the rescue and in court the RSPCA prosecutor Rex Bryant said when they examined the horses they found them underweight and suffering from louse infestations.

Mr Bryant said, “Tommy was found to be emaciated with extensive muscle wasting and was unsteady on his feet.

“He was recumbent and needed to be lifted on to his feet and had extensive worm and louse infestation.”

Doodle was found with similar muscle wasting, was verging on emaciated and had a harsh dry cough.

Hawkins, who first owned horses at 14, was ordered to complete 40 hours unpaid work and disqualified her from owning, keeping and participating in the keeping of horses for five years.

She must also pay £2,000 towards the £14,000 paid by the RSPCA for legal, vets and investigation costs.

Julie Karimi, the founder of Rainbow Bridge Equine Rescue, said, “I have done a lot of rescues but I have never ever since horses left in such a terrible state.

“Tommy was very bad. He was extremely underweight. To begin with he was unable to stand up after lying down because he was so weak. When we first found him, he wasn’t able to lift his head.

“We didn’t think he would make the journey home, but he has come on leaps and bounds.

“They are all now fantastic and Tommy especially is really cheeky.

“They are all strong little ponies now.”

Doodles and Tiggy have been rehomed and the team at Rainbow have visited them several times in their happy new homes.

However, Ernie and Tommy have remained at Rainbow Bridge Equine Rescue and will stay until at least the Spring.

Julie said, “Tommy has done so well and put on a lot of weight, so we want to make sure he maintains that weight throughout the winter.”

Locals took the four ponies to there hearts when they were featured in the Herald. Many donated money to the rescue centre to help pay for their care. Julie and the other members of the Rainbow Bridge team say they were delighted with the response but are now making a fresh appeal to help pay for a field shelter.

Anyone who can help should call Julie on 07816523905.