3 August 2023

A 44-year-old woman and a 46-year-old man have been fined a total of $7000 and banned from owning horses for two years, after an emaciated and dehydrated horse was found on their South West property.

RSPCA WA was alerted to the horse by a member of the public, and an inspector attended the couple’s property in Scott River East, near Nannup, on 22 July 2022.

The inspector found the 16-year-old chestnut thoroughbred mare, known by racing name Spirit of India, in a faeces-ridden paddock at the back of the house. She was in poor condition, with her ribs, hips and spine clearly visible.

Manjimup Magistrates Court heard that in the absence of adequate food, the trees and fence posts around the paddock had been chewed and eaten. The only available water was in a plastic trough filled with rubbish.

A vet exam carried out at the property found Spirit of India was dehydrated, visibly emaciated, and had muscle wastage due to prolonged starvation. She was seized by RSPCA WA and received IV fluids and medication before being removed.

When questioned, the female offender said the couple were in the process of moving house and that nobody had been at the property for more than a week. She claimed Spirit of India was ‘quite well looked after’, however the horse’s poor condition indicated prolonged neglect.

Spirit of India has made a full recovery in RSPCA WA’s care.

RSPCA WA Inspector Manager Kylie Green said it was heartbreaking to think about Spirit of India hungry and searching for food for a prolonged period.

‘Horses need to eat regularly throughout the day, so to leave a horse without proper feed for so long is neglect, plain and simple,' she said.

‘Ex-racehorses can be relatively easy and cheap to come by, but the cost of their care can add up extremely quickly. Getting a horse is not a commitment that should be taken lightly.

‘RSPCA WA is sympathetic to the fact owners can fall on hard times and struggle to provide for their animals, but that’s when you must reach out to friends, family, neighbours, or rescue groups for help.’

RSPCA WA thanked Dr Alex Rees from Cape Equine Veterinary services for her assistance in this matter.

The couple, who now live in Mandurah, were charged under sections 19(1) and 19(3)(d) of the Animal Welfare Act 2002. The court found Spirit of India was not provided with sufficient food and water.

In addition to the sentence, they were ordered to pay a total of $332.50 in court costs and $2654.94 in reimbursement costs.

The RSPCA relies on the community to report incidents of suspected cruelty and neglect. Report cruelty 24/7 on 1300 CRUELTY (1300 278 358) or at rspcawa.org.au