A vet ordered the removal of three horses from a Fife stables due to serious concerns about their “poor body conditions”, a court has been told.
Veterinary surgeon Jenny Croft said she believed several horses were in an “emaciated condition” after she was called to examine the animals at a livery yard owned by Jackie Kemp.
Ms Kemp, 53, faces five charges of causing unnecessary suffering to three animals at Balmule Farm and Wester Deanhead, near Dunfermline, between November 2015 and February 2016.
Dr Croft, 36, told Dunfermline Sheriff Court she observed a number of horses suffering from a skin condition called “rain scald” which resulted in open lesions on their backs.
The vet said one horse, named Brogan, was in a “very poor body condition” and had protruding ribs, spine and bones jutting out in the pelvis region.
She added that the horse, who was housed at Wester Deanhead Farm, Dunfermline, “looked cold and she was shivering”.
Dr Croft said: “The heart rate, temperature and respiratory levels were all in the normal limits.
“There was no evidence of any particular illness. I accessed the mouth and sharp points on the teeth which had caused ulceration in the mouth.
“The horse would have been in discomfort. It would hurt constantly but more so when the horse was eating.”
She told the court the decision was taken to remove the horse from the farm for immediate veterinary treatment and she suspected it was suffering from a parasitic infection.
The vet also described the conditions in some areas on the farm where a number of horses were housed and said there were “layers of faeces”, measuring more than a foot deep in places.
She told of her concerns for another two horses, Molly and Beano, which she described as having very poor body conditions.
Dr Croft said she had also observed another horse, named Sunny, which was suffering from a leg deformity and a stallion, Danny, which showed signs of discomfort in its back legs.
Defence solicitor Philip McWilliams accused Dr Croft of “overstating and exaggerating” the conditions of the three geriatric horses, which were removed from the farms.
He asked the expert witness if “aged horses” had more difficulty obtaining the “perfect body score” to which she replied: “Generally yes.”
Mr McWilliams also told the court farm workers had raised concerns with Dr Croft and Scottish SPCA inspectors above moving the horse Brogan.
He said the horse did not react well when moved in a trailer and could only be transported inside a lorry.
Dr Croft said she could not recall being told this but agreed that moving the animal, which died just two days later, would have caused it distress.
Mr McWilliams also asked if Dr Croft had observed five horses being held separately from the rest of the herd under a sheltered area as they were beginning treatment for rain scald.
The trial, in front of Sheriff Christopher Shead, continues.