A woman who neglected a two-month-old foal, causing it severe injuries, has been banned from keeping horses for three years.

Pascale Musk, of Smallford, near St Albans in Hertfordshire, originally pleaded not guilty in January to animal cruelty charges but changed her plea to guilty on August 4, 2014.

The charges came under section four of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 – failing to check, adjust or remove a head collar, which led to severe infected wounds and a deformed bone.

The court in St Albans ordered Musk to carry out 100 hours of unpaid community service work, to be served within 12 months, and pay £500 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

In August last year, horse rescue and rehoming charity World Horse Welfare (WHW), was called to assist the RSPCA catch a 16-year-old bay mare named Ivy and a two-month-old dun-coloured foal named Star, in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

The foal’s head collar had embedded so far into its nose and poll area that skin and hair had grown over it and the nasal bone had been damaged. As Star grew, the collar cut further and further into its face.

Deputy district judge Kwame Inyundo: “Ms Musk had significant [horse] experience, which caused difficulty in the defence submission. She ought to have been able to, and should have, acted more quickly.”

WHW’s regional field officer Nick White attended the scene with the RSPCA and a vet from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in Potters Bar. Due to the extent of Star’s injuries and that it was still suckling, it was taken, with its mother, to the RVC for surgery to remove the collar.

Musk was cautioned and agreed to sign over both horses to the RSPCA, which then handed them to WHW for rehabilitation.

Claire Phillips, farm manager at one of the charity’s four rescue and rehoming centres in the UK, Glenda Spooner Farm in Somerset, said Star had improved dramatically.

“Star had been in a lot of pain and had never been handled so was fearful of humans when he first came in,” she said. “In a matter of days though he became more confident and allowed us to clean his wounds with minimal fuss. Sadly, he will be left with permanent scarring and damage to his facial bones, but this will not prevent him from leading a normal life in the future.”

RSPCA inspector Tina Ward said Musk was an experienced horse owner who knew there was a problem, but did nothing about it.

“The foal could have been prevented from suffering and trauma if the defendant had simply sought help or advice and loosened the collar,” she said.

“We are grateful to WHW for caring for the foal and for its support and expertise in dealing with the incident.”

Star should soon be ready for rehoming. WHW is now looking to find a home with someone who has the experience and knowledge to continue the foal’s education and break it in when it is old enough. If you can help, go to www.worldhorsewelfare.org/rehoming

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