'Thousands' spent to save horse, says stable
This phrase was repeated over and over again by the operations director of Gallop Stable Singapore in court yesterday.
Mr Thanabalan Rengasamy, 40, took the stand to refute one charge that his organisation failed to provide adequate veterinary attention to 17-year-old thoroughbred mare Sharpy in 2013.
Dr Wendy Toh, who was then working for the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), was at the Pasir Ris Green premises on May 15, 2013, acting on a different tip-off when she spotted the horse lying in its stable.
It did not get up even when she went close to it.
There was a large wound on its right hind leg, its left thigh was swollen and flies were circling its eyes.
Mr Thanabalan took the stand yesterday morning on behalf of Gallop Stable. He was questioned by his defence lawyer Simon Tan.
Later in the afternoon, he was put under cross-examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Marshall Lim.
Mr Thanabalan had earlier told the court that Miss Maneesha Shanker, 21, then operations manager of Gallop Stables at Pasir Ris Green, had called him on May 13, 2013, informing him that Sharpy had a swollen leg.
Mr Thanabalan (below), who has been with the horse-riding provider for 12 years, was then the operations manager of Gallop Stable at Horse City in Bukit Timah.
Afraid that the equine lymphangitis - inflammation of the lymphatic system - that the horse had suffered before had recurred, he told her to walk the animal.
It was when Miss Shanker called him two days later, on May 15, about a wound that was oozing that he told her to call the veterinarian.
When asked if he was physically present at the centre in Pasir Ris to see Sharpy, Mr Thanabalan claimed Miss Shanker sent him text messages and photos to keep him updated regularly on Sharpy's status.
He added that the horse was not "recumbent" (lying down) but on its feet.
To this, DPP Lim told the court that the horse was "already in a bad state four days prior to May 15, 2013".
He then played a video taken on May 15, 2013,which showed the horse lying on its side in the stable.
On being recommended by the two vets who had testified on Thursday to put the horse down, Mr Thanabalan claimed he said no because it was Gallop Stable's corporate philosophy to give old or retired horses a second life.
He said they even hired veterinarian Dr Miles McNickle (below) after Dr Phyllis Yew left.
He told the court the organisation spent "thousands of dollars" to save Sharpy when they could have spent only between $600 and $700 to euthanise it.
But DPP Lim asked if he remembered Blackball, Ecuador and Jameel - three horses that he had recommended "to give away or (be) put down". Mr Thanabalan said he disagreed.
One of the reasons given by the vets for Sharpy's condition deteriorating was inadequate bedding, to which Mr Thanabalan said Gallop Stable followed the standards set by the British Horse Society (BHS) that gives accreditations to riding clubs and schools, of which Gallop Stable is one.
Producing a handbook, Mr Thanabalan said that according to BHS, the proper bedding for a stable is "rubber matting with a sprinkle of shavings".
But DPP Lim pointed out that the same handbook said the sprinkling of shavings made it easier for the clearing of manure. He then provided the court with a BHS brochure on the bedding of stables.
He also asked if Mr Thanabalan knew why Gallop Stable had not been BHS accredited since 2013, and was told that it was because Gallop Stable no longer wanted to hire a trainer who is BHS-certified.
To this, DPP Lim produced an e-mail from BHS to the Attorney-General saying that the condition of the horses and ponies at Gallop Stable premises are in "conditions that are not acceptable by BHS standards".
The case is adjourned.
The three degrees of lameness
The session in Court 19 at the State Courts was disrupted for about 10 minutes yesterday afternoon.
In a curious digression, Mr Thanabalan Rengasamy, operations director of Gallop Stable Singapore, demonstrated the three degrees of lameness in a horse.
Lameness is an abnormal gait or stance of a horse, most commonly caused by pain.
It is a common veterinary problem in race, sport and pleasure horses.
It is also one of the most costly health issues for the equine industry, both for the cost of diagnosis and treatment, and for the time lost as the horses recover.
Mr Thanabalan, 40, got off the witness stand and showed the different degrees of when a horse limps, to the amusement of those in the courtroom.
Flat walking in front of District Judge Lim Keng Yeow, Mr Thanabalan said it isn't always that one could tell if the horse was lame, but it is only evident when the horse trots.
He then trotted quickly, with a slight limp.
When Deputy Public Prosecutor Marshall Lim told the court he could not see the difference, Mr Thanabalan said: "You have to look, not only at the legs, but also the shoulders and head of the horse. The head drops down."
To demonstrate the second type of lameness, Mr Thanabalan then walked with an obvious limp, before moving on to show the third type - when the horse will not place its foot completely flat during weight bearing. For this, Mr Thanabalan raised his foot until it was knee-high.
THE NEW PAPER, YESTERDAY