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Gran gets restraining order for giving too many carrots to neighbour’s horse

3 min read

A grandmother has been hit with a restraining order after she refused to stop feeding a retired racehorse carrots because he was, she said, "sad looking" and "thin."

The horse was afforded legal protection from Margaret Porter, 67, from Scruton, Yorkshire, in order to protect him from overfeeding.

York magistrates heard the dispute over Nelson's carrots had become the talk of the village on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, with the parish council asked to intervene in the increasingly bitter feud.

Prosecutors made the application to York magistrates on behalf of Nelson, the chestnut gelding, following Mrs Porter's “laudable” effort to feed him after spotting him outside his stable and thinking he was "sad looking”.

She then came to the view that he was under-fed so began to feed him carrots despite being explicitly asked not to by his owner Suzanne Cooke, 50, Manchester Evening News reported.

What began as a well intentioned act in Nelson's interest quickly became a campaign of harassment against him and Mrs Cooke, resulting in the police being called three times and the RSPCA once.

Mrs Porter told the court how she first became involved after passing Nelson's paddock on the edge of the village.

She said: "I saw him standing outside his stables and I thought he looked quite sad.”

"I didn't examine the horse but I noticed him. The fields were frozen at the time and there was snow on the ground. I passed six or seven times a day and didn't see his owner with him once.

"He looked thin and I began speaking to people about my concerns in the hope someone would take it on board and try and get her to look after the horse properly. I was getting quite distressed about the situation.

"I decided to give him a few carrots at the fence, it never occurred to me that anyone else would be bothered about that, I just didn't want him starving to death."

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Mrs Porter continued feeding Nelson, which came to Mrs Cooke's notice when she realised there were dozens of carrot tops lying in his field.

She picked them up in a bucket and took Mrs Porter to task, pointing out that there was a sign on the fence asking people not to feed him.

To her dismay Mrs Porter took no notice and continued to sneak carrots to Nelson, who willingly trotted over to the fence to receive them.

Mrs Cooke told the court: "On February 13th this year I was going to my horse when I saw Mrs Porter's car parked up. She was throwing food into the field and the horse came over.

"I opened the car window and said "why are you feeding my horse? Do you realise what you are doing? You could poison my horse or give it colic and make it ill."

"She replied: "you can ring the police, I'm not bothered."

"I am tired of this happening and worried that she may make my horse ill, I don't know what she is giving it."

To her horror an RSPCA inspector then called at her house to tell her he was carrying out a welfare check on Nelson.

The inspector quickly realised that not only was he being well looked after, he was in peak condition having competed three times in professional horse races.

Trevor Howe, a parish council stalwart of 40 years, gave evidence to say Mrs Porter began called him around 10 times insisting the horse wasn't well.

Mrs Cooke felt she had no option but to call the police and Mrs Porter was eventually arrested, first appearing in court in April when she denied a charge of harassment.

After hearing both sides of the argument on Thursday magistrates found her guilty.

Mrs Fairwood said it was necessary to impose a restraining order for the protection of Nelson.

Addressed to the defendant, it reads: "You must not put food in the field for the horse and must not interfere with the horse in any way."

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