A Palmerston North man neglected his pony so badly that it fell into a state of severe depression and was barely able to move to get food or water due to the pain in its feet.

Michael Booth pleaded guilty to one charge of recklessly ill-treating a pony, causing the pony to suffer unreasonable and unnecessary pain and distress.

He was sentenced at Palmerston North District Court today and received a three-year disqualification in relation to horses, was fined $10,000 payable to the SPCA and ordered to pay reparations of $264.70.

Poncho the pony's hooves had been so badly neglected that when an SPCA inspector visited him in November 2017 his feet were grossly long and his toes were curled upwards instead of touching the ground.

A veterinarian said Poncho had the most severe and chronic case of laminitis she had ever seen and estimated it would have been left for between one-and-a-half to two years to get to such a desperate condition.


As a result of the severe neglect, Poncho had permanent and irreversible damage to his feet. He could barely walk and was in a lot of pain.

Because of the extent of his condition and his pain and suffering, the vet recommended putting him down as corrective treatment could take months or even years.

When asked in an interview why he had not got his pony the correct treatment, Booth replied: "Out of sight, out of mind."

He said he knew horses needed their hooves trimmed every six to eight weeks and admitted to doing most of the work himself.

SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen said SPCA inspectors were coming across laminitis too often and when not managed properly it meant horses could not access grass and feed, were not being given pain relief or getting corrective trimming.

"Poncho lived in a state of quiet desperation for a long time, suffering immeasurably ...

"Horses have complex needs and require specific care from their owner. It is unacceptable to simply put a horse in a paddock and forget about it. This case is a perfect example of what happens when a horse is neglected, resulting in the suffering of an animal that was entirely preventable."