Horse left in distress as embedded head collar cuts deep into the face, court hears

A young horse, left in severe distress as a head collar had embedded itself into its face leaving a deep wound, had bolted from the land owned by a farmer who had been unable to give a closer inspection, the Galway District Court heard this week.

The court heard on Monday how full-time farmer Michael McInerney had inspected two runaway horses from a distance and every time he attempted to approach they bolted again. However, failure to get a closer look led to a head collar tightening and embedding itself deep into the flesh of one young horse as it grew.

McInerney (53 ) with an address at Lydican, Ardrahan, Galway, pleaded guilty to cruelly allowing a head collar/bridal to remain tightly on a young horse’s head while it grew, resulting in the head collar/bridal cutting into the flesh of the horse’s head leaving a deep wound on the animal at Renville West, Oranmore, on August 10, 2009, contrary to Section 1 of the Protection of Animals Act 1911.

Inspector Sean Glynn told the court that gardai had been alerted by a welfare officer with the Galway Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (GSPCA ) who had concerns for two horses left in a field. There was particular concern for one of the animals as a bridal had become “badly embedded” in the face. Gardai spoke to the defendant who told them that a vet had been contacted and that the horse in question had been sedated in order to take the bridal off.

Inspector Glynn added that the horse has since made a full recovery. He said that McInerney had attempted to keep an eye on the animals, but it was from a distance, and because of this he did not realise the extent of the problem. The inspector said that there was no “shortage of feed” for the horses, and a subsequent inspection found that the horses “were in good order”.

Defence solicitor Colin Lynch said that his client, who has no previous convictions, had looked after animals all his life and never before had any problems of this nature. He said McInerney had been “unable to get a closer inspection” of the animals. The court heard that the horses had not been on defendant’s land as they had bolted some time before that and every time he attempted to approach the animals they would bolt again. Mr Lynch said that McInerney keeps a number of horses but that one of the horses was not owned by him and had been kept as a favour to someone else.

“He was feeling unwell with the flu and found that he was suffering from a serious condition that affected his ability to catch them [the horses]... He took them to his own land, and they are now in excellent condition,” said Mr Lynch, who added that gardai have visited a number of times, that McInerney has been fully co-operative, and that the 100 livestock on the farm have been found to be “all well cared for”.

Judge Fahy noted this was not a case of neglecting to feed the animals but that “he was not inspecting closely enough to see this animal was in distress”. She then convicted McInerney fining him €500 and ordering him to pay vet fees of €180.

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