Sanctuary Owners Sentenced for Causing Suffering to 20 Horses


A Norfolk father and son who ran Rainbow Meadows Horse Sanctuary prosecuted for cruelty

Dexter pros

The defendants were yesterday sentenced for causing unnecessary suffering to 20 horses in their care at Rainbow Meadows Horse Sanctuary in Norfolk which has been operating since 2013.


- Dexter (pictured top) after rehabilitation

In the years since opening, both men have failed to act on extensive advice offered to them by Trading Standards Officers and Redwings Horse Sanctuary and have continued failing to comply with obligations for the horses in their care under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

In late 2015, 20 horses were seized from the site in a multi-agency operation between Trading Standards, World Horse Welfare and Redwings. Eight of the horses travelled to the safety of World Horse Welfare’s Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre, whilst twelve were offered a home at Redwings Horse Sanctuary.


- Mildred upon arrival

All the horses were thoroughly examined by a vet with each discovered to be suffering from multiple health issues, with one horse in such poor health that the decision was made to put him to sleep.
On 20 October 2016, at Norwich Magistrates' Court, the two defendants pleaded guilty to eight charges of causing unnecessary suffering to twenty horses by failing to provide an adequate diet, parasite control and failing to address the causes of poor body condition. In addition they pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to take reasonable steps to protect 7 horses from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

mildred after

- Mildred after rehabilitation

At yesterday’s hearing the first defendant was sentenced to 15 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months. The judge disqualified him from keeping all equine and cloven hoofed animals for life.  He also has to pay a total of £415 in costs. The second defendant was banned from keeping equine and cloven hoofed animals for 10 years and has to pay £296 in costs.

World Horse Welfare's field officer Jacko Jackson said:

"It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to see a conclusion to this case. What I will take away from this case is the memory of emaciated horses standing in pouring cold winter rain, at premises which were totally unsuitable for the care of equines. Not one of the animals objected to being loaded on to lorries and taken to a better life. It has been great to see each horse's transformation since being in the care of our team and I am delighted that six of them are now enjoying life in new homes, whilst the other two will be joining our rehoming scheme very soon."


- Harrison on arrival

Sophie Leney, Head of Trading Standards, said:

"Norfolk County Council Trading Standards always treats any incidents where commercial animals are caused unnecessary suffering extremely seriously. We hope that the sentences imposed in this case will send a clear message to animal keepers, ensuring they adopt good standards of animal husbandry and do not allow their animals to suffer.

"I would like to thank Redwings Horse Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare for the help they have provided throughout our investigation, including caring for the horses once they had been seized. Without this generous support, our service would have found it difficult to cope with relocating the number of animals involved."

Harrison after

- Harrison after rehabilitation

Redwings Horse Sanctuary's Chief Executive Lynn Cutress said:

"For the horses who have endured such unnecessary suffering, we are pleased with the guilty verdict of their owners and that justice has been served. For this type of neglect to have occurred at a place that called itself a 'sanctuary' is unfathomable. Indeed our attending veterinary surgeon and senior field officer said this was one of the worst cases they had seen and the difficult operation took over 12 hours to complete. For the twelve horses and ponies taken into our care at Redwings the road to recovery has been a difficult one, which only emphasises the extent of their previous neglect, but we're delighted that we were able to offer them that place of sanctuary they so rightly deserve."


- Bonny enjoying her time at World Horse Welfare