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Trader prosecuted for selling falsely described ponies – 06/10/2011

Horse trader, Sarah Ashe, 31, currently residing in Rishworth, West Yorkshire, who formerly traded as Cooly Hill Equestrian, Tandragee, was today given a conditional discharge for 18 months at Ballymena Magistrates’ Court for selling falsely described ponies. The District Judge also issued a compensation order of £250 to be paid by Mrs Ashe to a consumer.

In a case brought by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s Trading Standards Service, Mrs Sarah Ashe, trading under the name ‘Ashe’, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968.

The Trading Standards Service received two separate complaints from consumers in February and March 2009. The complainants alleged that the ponies which they had purchased from Sarah Ashe had been falsely described to them.

The first consumer purchased a pony, for her 12 year old son, from Mrs Ashe. Mrs Ashe had advertised this pony in the Horse Week section of the Farm Week publication. It was described as being 13 years of age. This animal was later examined by an equine dental technician who stated that the pony was at least 30 years old. In the equine dental technician’s opinion the average lifespan of a pony is around 25 years.

The second consumer specifically requested a quiet, safe pony for their 8 year old daughter who was a novice rider. Sarah Ashe described this pony ‘Poppy’ as ‘very safe’. However, at its first pony club lesson for no apparent reason it reared up vertically. Despite extensive schooling it continued to exhibit this dangerous behaviour. An experienced pony trainer deemed the pony to be unsafe to be ridden and totally unsuitable for a novice rider.

Angela Gilliland of the Trading Standards Service said, “This case highlights the risks involved when consumers put their trust in the hands of unscrupulous traders. Both complainants relied on the knowledge and expertise of Sarah Ashe when choosing their ponies.

The first complainant suffered considerable upset when the pony had to be euthanised the following year after purchase. The second case could have had much more serious consequences and it is inexcusable that a child’s life should have been put at risk by the reckless actions of this horse trader.”

Anyone who believes that they have purchased goods (including animals) or services that have been misdescribed,should contact Domain Scams on 0300 123 6262 or logon to the Domain Scams website.

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