Horse loses eye and left lame after Dartmoor owner's neglect

Tinkerbell had an infected eye and four overgrown hooves which left her lame. Credit: RSPCA

A pensioner has been handed a suspended sentence for badly neglecting his two ponies - one of which needed its eye removed.

Barry Searle, aged 78, failed to have horses Tinkerbell and Fudge treated by a vet over several months despite their obvious suffering.

Tinkerbell had an infected eye and four overgrown hooves which left her lame, Plymouth magistrates heard.

The RSPCA, which has rescued the horses, said Fudge also needed hoof-trimming and both animals were infested with lice and fleas.

Searle, of Clearbook near Yelverton. admitted one count of causing unnecessary suffering and one of failing to meet the needs of the two mares.

He was handed a nine-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, ordered to pay £600 prosecution costs and £128 victim surcharge.

RSPCA Inspector Claire Ryder was joined by police when she attended the field where Seale kept his horses in May.

She said: “Tinkerbell came up to us and I noticed there were flies around her eyes. You could not see the left eye and the hole appeared infected. She also had overgrown hooves and was lame.

"It was also clear that Fudge and Tinkerbell's feet were in need of attention.”

She shared pictures and video footage with a specialist equine vet and the horses were seized by police.

A vet discovered that Tinkerbell’s right eye, which was later surgically removed, was shrunken into the orbit, leaving her with swollen eyelids and a discharge.

Fudge needed hoof trimming and both horses were found to need treatment for lice and fleas.

Speaking after the sentencing, Inspector Ryder said: “While this was not caused by deliberate harm, this was prolonged neglect which resulted in suffering for Tinkerbell.

"Owners of animals have a duty to provide them with appropriate care and treatment. Mr Seale was aware of the concerns and had numerous offers of support to improve welfare but instead chose to ignore their plight.”

Both horses are now doing well in RSPCA foster care after recovering and receiving the treatment they needed.