A grandmother was hit on a restraining order to protect a retired racehorse after she refused to stop feeding him carrots.
Margaret Porter, 67, thought Nelson, the chestnut gelding who lives in the village of Scruton on the outskirts of the Yorkshire Dales, “sad” and decided he was malnourished.
Then she started giving him carrots, despite a specific request from his owner, Suzanne Cooke, 50.
The owner of the horse warned the grandmother that she was at risk of poisoning the horse or developing colic.
But Ms. Porter ignored her request and repeatedly called the police and RSPCA – which led the owner, Ms. Cooke, to accuse her of a harassment campaign.
The dispute over Nelson’s carrots became the talk of the village, with the town council being asked to intervene in the increasingly bitter feud, York judges heard.
After hearing both sides of the argument on Thursday, the judges found Ms. Porter guilty of molestation and beat her with an injunction banning her from the horse and Ms. Cooke’s house.
She was also fined £ 180 with court costs of £ 310 and a court surcharge of £ 34. Ms. Porter, who is not working, pays £ 10 a month out of her state pension.
Margaret Porter (left) appears outside York Magistrates Court after feeding carrots to Suzanne Cooke’s horse (right)
Nelson, Suzanne Cooke’s horse fed carrots by Margaret Porter
Ms. Porter told the court how she first got involved after passing Nelson’s paddock on the outskirts of the village.
She said, “I saw him standing in front of his stall and thought he looked pretty sad.
“I didn’t examine the horse, but I noticed. The fields were frozen at that time and there was snow on the ground. I came by six or seven times a day and never saw the owner at his house.
“He looked thin and I started talking to people about my concerns in the hopes that someone would pick them up and try to get them to take proper care of the horse. I was quite concerned about the situation.
“I decided to give him a few carrots on the fence, it never crossed my mind that someone else would take care of it, I just didn’t want him to starve.”
Mrs. Porter continued to feed Nelson, which Mrs. Cooke noticed when she noticed that there were dozens of carrot crowns in his field.
She picked them up in a bucket and confronted Mrs. Porter saying that there was a sign on the fence telling people not to feed him.
But Mrs. Porter took no notice and continued to smuggle carrots to Nelson, who willingly trotted over to the fence to receive them.
Mrs. Cooke said in court: “On February 13th of this year I was going to my horse when I saw Mrs. Porter’s car parked. She threw fodder in the field and the horse came over.
“I opened the car window and said, ‘Why are you feeding my horse? Do you realize what you are doing? You could poison my horse or give it colic and make it sick.
‘She replied,’ You can call the police, I’m not bothered. ‘
“I’m sick of this happening and I’m worried that she might make my horse sick. I don’t know what she’s giving him.”
Then, to her horror, an RSPCA inspector called her home to tell her that he was conducting a social check on Nelson.
The commissioner quickly realized that he was not only well looked after, but was also in tip-top shape after having participated in professional horse races three times.
Mrs. Cooke says Mrs. Porter continued to gossip with the villagers even though the RSPCA issued the horse a clean health certificate.
Trevor Howe, a loyal councilor for 40 years, testified that Mrs. Porter called him about ten times and insisted the horse was not doing well.
The carrots were fed to Nelson, the horse that was later picked up by its angry owner, Mrs. Cooke
Ms. Porter told the court how she first got involved after passing Nelson’s paddock on the outskirts of the village. She said: “I saw him standing in front of his stable and found him pretty sad”
Ignoring Mrs. Cooke’s anger, Mrs. Porter continued smuggling carrots to Nelson, who willingly trotted over to the fence to meet them
Ms. Cooke said she had no choice but to call the police, and Ms. Porter was eventually arrested and first appeared in court in April when she dismissed a harassment charge.
After hearing both sides of the argument on Thursday, the judges found her guilty.
Presiding Judge Hilary Fairwood said, “First and foremost, her behavior can be considered commendable as she genuinely believed she was trying to prevent the horse from being neglected.
“However, after the RSPCA visit and police intervention, she continued despite being specifically told that the RSPCA had no concerns. Her behavior was not sensible and we find her guilty of prosecution. ‘
Mrs. Fairwood said it was necessary to issue an injunction to protect Nelson.
Addressed to the accused, it reads: “You must not put food for the horse in the pasture or disturb the horse in any way.”
In addition, she is not allowed to contact Mrs. Cooke or visit her house, which is directly across from her.
After the hearing, Mrs. Porter said, “It all seems too ridiculous to be brought to justice for giving a horse a few carrots, but at least I got my say and they didn’t send me to jail.”
Mrs. Cooke said, “I am very glad the court made the order to keep you away from Nelson for his sake.
“He is a thoroughbred horse and is very well cared for, trained and fed, he is a wonderful horse and is very much loved by me and my son.
During his racing days, Nelson lived in Middlesham, one of the home of British horse racing
“It has been going on for a year now and it caused me so much stress and anger that the whole village, in which I have been living very happily for eight years, talked about me.
“She went out to cause as much trouble as possible for no good reason. It was appalling to have the RSPCA called in for a welfare inspection by Nelson, I felt awful. ‘
During his racing days, Nelson lived in Middlesham, one of the home of British horse racing.
His racing name was You’redoingwell, but after three races without a win it was put to pasture before being taken over by Mrs. Cooke three years ago.
In March 2005, Northallerton justices heard that Mrs. Porter was losing her temper after her brother William laughed at her as he drove by in his Land Rover.
She tossed three sticks of rhubarb out of the window of her cottage and hit him in the right eye with one of them.
The court ordered Porter to do 40 hours of community service and forbade her to enter the property of her son, with whom she also argued.