Lisa Corfield

Lisa Corfield

Published on 6/11/2019

A former jockey has been disqualified from owning horses for 10 years after neglecting some so much they had to be euthanised or died in SPCA care.

Lisa Corfield, 47, who first came to the attention of SPCA inspectors more than six years ago, failed to appropriately look after, nourish and feed the horses on her property.

In the Christchurch District Court on Wednesday, defence counsel Jessica Bibby said Corfield accepted full responsibility for the horses’ condition. She argued the offending was not cruelty based, but the property was overstocked. Corfield would lose her job once she was disqualified from owning horses, Bibby said.

Corfield was sentenced on three charges of reckless ill-treatment of an animal with the result that the animal was seriously injured or impaired, and one of reckless ill-treatment of an animal with the result that it was necessary to destroy the animal in order to end its suffering.

Judge Stephen O’Driscoll said it was a shame the matter had got to this stage, as it appeared there had been an involvement with SPCA over some time.

Corfield had been involved in the racing industry, the judge said. Corfield told Stuff said she owned a race horse some years ago, and had previously been a jockey, stablehand and worked for a trainer.*

In May 2013, the SPCA found four horses in poor body condition and ordered her to have the horses assessed by a veterinarian.

The vet put a feed and worming plan in place, but in October 2014 one horse was found in moderately poor body condition.

In March 2015, three mares with foals were found to be in a very poor body condition, and another two horses were in light body condition. Another feed plan was put in place but two of the mare’s conditions declined and they were euthanised.

In 2016, the SPCA found Corfield had overstocked, but she was feeding out bailage, and she moved six of the 10 horses to alternative grazing.

On March 11, 2017, the SPCA inspected nine horses that belonged to Corfield on another grazing block. There was no grazable grass, and no evidence of an additional food supply.

Four of the horses were emaciated and hay was fed to them by the SPCA.

Corfield was asked to contact the SPCA urgently but did not respond, so all nine horses were taken into its possession. 

In a statement, the SPCA said a vet assessed four of the horses as being extremely emaciated horses and noted it would have taken many weeks for their condition to become so bad. The horses would have suffered prolonged physical and mental suffering.

One horse, Karma, fell down in the truck after being loaded and required urgent treatment. Two days later, she was found in her stall unable to get up. Despite more treatment and attempts to lift her, she was too weak to stand and had to be euthanised.

Five months later another horse, Sophie, was found dead in her stall, despite intensive care from the SPCA. An autopsy found she had an underlying parasitic burden due to being starved and underweight. 

The other horses gradually regained weight and were transferred to foster homes.

When interviewed by the SPCA, Corfield said Karma and Sophie had been leased to someone from mid-January 2017 and she got them back only four days before SPCA became involved.  She refused to tell the inspectors who the horses had been leased to, saying it was a verbal agreement and no contract had been signed, the SPCA said.

SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen looking after a horse or pony was a big responsibility as they had complex needs.

“These beautiful horses suffered for an intolerably long time, living with the mental and physical anguish of being starved.

“To have so many in your care, and not provide for their basic needs is appalling.”

The judge sentenced Corfield to 250 hours’ community work, forfeiture of the animals in her possession except two desexed dogs and a cat, and disqualification from being the owner of, or exercising authority over, horses for 10 years except as part of her normal employment.

She was also disqualified from owning all other animals for three years, and ordered to pay reparation of $7346.