A professional farrier who repeatedly beat a customer’s horse with a hammer in a prolonged attack has been handed a 12-week suspended prison sentence and a ten-year animal ban.
Scott Manson of Whitecross Cottages, Bridstow, Ross-on-Wye was sentenced by Cheltenham magistrates on Monday (March 20) after the court heard how the ‘barbaric’ attack knocked off the hammer’s head.
The 34-year-old admitted a charge of animal cruelty at an earlier hearing, following an investigation and prosecution by the RSPCA.
The court was told how on April 1, 2022, Manson was employed to reshoe a customer’s horses, but after losing his temper during his work, used his hammer nine times to strike the horse, who at the time was tethered on a rope and unable to escape.
But Manson was unaware that his prolonged attack lasting six and a half minutes had been caught on camera.
He initially claimed the horse had broken his hammer in a picture message sent to the owner, but after wondering why their usually docile horse would have reacted in such a way they decided to view CCTV from the yard.
The footage showed Manson adopting an aggressive stance, and striking out with his hammer in his hand at the horse’s front legs.
Upon checking their horse, the owner could see his right front leg was bigger than usual and there were various marks on both front legs and around the shin area.
The fur had also been taken off and the shin exposed.
Solicitor Lindi Meyer, who represented the animal welfare charity in court, described what the specialist equine vet concluded in their report after viewing the footage.
“He repeatedly beat the horse around the forelimbs of the legs where there is very little in the way of soft tissue covering and as such the blows were almost directly to the bone, ” she said.
“This would have been incredibly painful for the horse and the farrier is very fortunate not to have caused fractures of any of the limbs.
“The horse was hit nine times viciously in a six and a half minute video attack which left it with soft tissue swellings and cuts to the limbs.
“The attack was unprovoked, unacceptable and completely unnecessary and has caused this horse to suffer from both physical and psychological harm.
“The abuse falls far below what is expected of a human dealing with horses, let alone a professional farrier who has been entrusted by the owners to take care of the horse.
“At no point was the farrier trying to teach the horse to stand still, pick its feet up or any other action. The actions were simply to beat the horse out of anger, a short temper, or frustration. Whatever the reason, the actions were so barbaric and cruel that the farrier broke the head off a hammer onto the sensitive areas of the front limbs of the horse.”
The court also heard that following the incident, the horse was reluctant for his owners to touch or brush his legs and when the new farrier came out he was given sedatives from the vet to keep him calm on two occasions.
He was also reluctant to go into his stable and was wary of people for a time but is back to normal now.
In mitigation, it was said Manson is remorseful, and that he was stressed and was visiting his dying mother in Scotland twice a week at the time.
Alongside the suspended prison sentence and animal disqualification, Manson was ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid work and 20 Rehabilitation Activity Requirements (RAR) days.
He must also pay £400 costs and a £128 victim surcharge.