Woman neglected ponies 'not good enough' for shows

Picture of one of the neglected Shetland ponies
A number of the ponies had severely overgrown hooves, the court heard [RSPCA]

A retired teacher "deliberately and cruelly" neglected 19 miniature Shetland ponies who had not made the cut for county shows.

Janet Marr, 73, admitted three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and breaching the duty of a person responsible for an animal to ensure its welfare.

Sheffield Crown Court heard her neglect between May and July 2023 had been so severe, eight of her ponies had to be put down.

Marr, of Sandall Park Drive, Doncaster, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment on Tuesday.

The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson, KC, also banned Marr from having or keeping animals indefinitely.

The court heard she had previously been subject to a written caution in relation to neglect of her Shetland ponies in June 2020.

In July 2023, charity World Horse Welfare received a report from a concerned member of the public about the horses kept on Marr's land.

Charity officials and the RSPCA visited the premises and found a "considerable" number of miniature Shetland ponies in a "suffering condition".

A number of the ponies had severely overgrown hooves and were displaying symptoms consistent with laminitis, an extremely painful condition of the feet.

Several animals had also suffered from obesity, lice infestation and "significant" dental problems, the court heard.

None of the animals had been examined by a vet or seen by a farrier "for a long time".

'Summer of agony'

Housed separately from the neglected ponies were two others which Marr stated she had entered into various competitions across the region.

Judge Richardson told the court: "In marked contrast to the other horses on site, there appeared to be no issue with either of those animals."

He said the animals for show had been well looked after but those that had not made the grade had been "abandoned to their fate".

In total, eight horses had to be put down while the remaining 11 were re-homed.

Overgrown hoof
Some of the animals could barely move due to the severity of the neglect [RSPCA]

The court heard how there had been no question of poverty and that Marr had stated how she had wanted to give the ponies "one more summer".

Judge Richardson said that notion "almost defies belief", adding: "You were giving those ponies one more summer of neglect and, in several cases, a summer of agony."

He told the defendant her offending had been so serious, only an immediate custodial sentence could be justified.

"You visited terrible cruelty upon those Shetland ponies," he said. "At the time you were masquerading as a responsible and caring horsewoman - you were nothing of the kind. You were a cruel woman."

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