A former Newmarket assistant trainer has admitted a cruelty charge after a thoroughbred mare in his care was found emaciated and close to collapse.
Michael Hammond, 33, of Lester Piggott Way, who worked as a pupil with trainer Stuart Williams until setting up his own yard for ex-racehorses four years ago, was sentenced at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court on Thursday after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering.
He was ordered to pay £1,000 costs to World Horse Welfare (WHW) and complete 40 hours’ of unpaid work. He had pleaded guilty by letter but magistrates deemed the offence so serious his presence was required at court.
Galaxy’s owner, Heidi Challis, of Queensway, Soham, also pleaded guilty but the court accepted she had played a lesser role. She received a £70 fine and was ordered to pay the charity £470 in costs.
A member of the public had first called WHW to Barcham Stables in Soham in January over concerns that some of the horses were very thin.
After two visits Jacko Jackson, one of the charity’s field officers, issued improvement notices on 10 horses.Then on February 28, Mr Jackson found thoroughbred mare, Galaxy, in a weak, malnourished, and dehydrated state.
“When I was able to reach the site Galaxy was standing but it was clear that she was within days of dying,” he said.
She was taken to the charity’s rescue centre where she has since recovered and will eventually be rehomed.
“I am disappointed that Mr Hammond has not received any sort of ban from keeping or caring for horses,” said Mr Jackson after the hearing.
“For someone who was supposedly rehabilitating ex-racehorses like Galaxy, it beggars belief that a horse in his care could get into such a state,”
Hammond told the Journal after the hearing: “Galaxy was not neglected but became ill, subsequently revealed to be a salmonella infection. There is a difference between neglect and illness. My error was in not calling the vet out earlier.”