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1891: Lame horse forced to work on Cuckfield farm

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 24 November 1891


Thomas Woodcock, of Bolnore, Haywards Heath, was summoned at the instance of Percy Luff, Inspector of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, for cruelly ill-treating a horse by causing it to work whilst in an unfit state, on October 6th; William Haylor was charged with working the same, on the same date.

Percy George Luff said that on the date named, from information received, he went with P.C. Box to a field in the occupation of Mr. Woodcock in Cuckfield. He there saw Haylor in charge of pair of horses, engaged in harrowing. He noticed that one, a bay gelding, was excessively lame in its near foreleg. He stopped Haylor, called his attention to the lameness, and asked who instrncted him to work the animal in that condition. Haylor told witness young Mr. Woodcock saw the horse go out that morning. Witness examined the horse’s leg, and found very large sidebones, the foot being excessively hot.

The following day witness saw the horse in Mr. Woodcock’s stable. He was accompanied by a veterinary surgeon. The horse was still lame, but in good condition. On the 13th of October witness saw Mr. Woodcock at Haywards Heath, and told him he was an officer of the R.S.P.C.A, and that he had come to see him with reference to the horse which he bad stopped from working. Mr. Woodcock replied “Yes; I’ll take all responsibility.” Witness said Haylor told him it was by orders the horse went out, and Mr. Woodcock said “It would have been hard lines with him if he had not worked it.”

Apart from the lameness the horse was in good condition.

Richard D. Spinks, M.R.C.V.S., of Brighton, deposed to being called by the last witness to examine a horse at Cuckfield, on October 7th. The horse was in good condition, bat very lame in both forelegs, especially the near one. it was suffering with sidebone of long standing. It was decidedly unfit for work, and had evidently been persistently worked, judging from the inflammatory state of the foot. There was a great amount of heat in the foot, and it was exceedingly lame. ' It was palpable to anyone that it was unfit to work, and it should have been stopped some time since.—

ln reply to Mr. Woodcock, witness said he believed it had been persistently worked by the extreme development of the sidebone and the inflammatory state of the foot. The sidebone was developed to an unusual degree. It would have been cruelty to work the animal on soft ground. The foot and coronet were extremely hot. If the shoe had been removed and hot fomentations used the horse might have been fit for work again.

In defence Mr. Woodcock said he bad worked the horse for eight years, having bred it himself. The mother of it suffered from sidebone, so that it must have been hereditary. He thought light work would do the horse no harm, and had given orders that Mr. Dier should see to it after seeding was done. He had tried to get another horse, bat was unable, farmers were busy seeding. He had given instructions that the horse should not be worked on the road.—

The. Magistrates said they considered the case proved, and Mr. Woodcock was ordered to pay a fine of £8 and £1 11s. costs. Haylor was fined 6s. and 10s. costs.



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