Today Magistrate Mollard convicted Stephen Marshall Hall, of Westerway, of one count of using a method of management of a pony which is reasonably likely to result in unreasonable and unjustifiable pain or suffering.

The charge, which Mr Hall pleaded guilty to, was that Mr Hall owned a Shetland pony called Molly and during the period between 6 January 2020 to 23 October 2020 he had failed to ensure that the pony was only given access to food which minimised the likelihood of development of laminitis.

Magistrate Mollard noted that the plea of guilty was entirely appropriate.

I attach a copy of the Facts for the Prosecutor which I read in court.

Mr Hall was sentenced to pay a fine of $3,500 and was disqualified from owning horses or ponies for 3 years.

I pointed out the Tasmanian Equine Welfare Guidelines, made under the Animal Welfare Act, gave useful guidance to owners. The relevant section says: Equines should not be overfed. Overfeeding some equines, particularly idle ponies, can induce laminitis or founder. Animals at risk should be treated according to professional veterinary advice, and should be closely observed. I said those guidelines clearly applied in this case, and had not been followed.

Mr Hall’s lawyer, Alan Hensley, had told the Court that Mr Hall had obtained the pony in 2015, and she was probably suffering from laminitis then. Magistrate Mollard said that anyone taking on a laminitic pony, was on notice of the need to take appropriate steps to care for her. From January 2020 Mr Hall had received advice and instructions regarding Molly’s care. However, Mr Hall had given Molly access to grass, which resulted in her having recurring laminitis, and this should not have been allowed to happen. Magistrate Mollard remarked on Mr Hall’s lack of insight in failing to follow the instructions he had been given.