Non Raceday Inquiry – Written Reasons for Decision dated 10 August 2023 – Tennielle Bishop
MULAAZEM SHAMTAARI, MULAAZEEM SOUTHERN POINT, MULAAZEM FINDERZ KEEPAS, MULAAZEM ZOE SPICE
Penalty: Penalty pending - awaiting submissions
1. The Respondent, Ms Tennielle Bishop, is a Licenced Trainer, her Licence is presently suspended by NZ Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) following her being placed on the NZTR arrears list.
2. The Respondent has been charged by the Informant with a Serious Racing Offence under the NZTR Rules of Racing (the Rules), under Rule 801(t), more particularly an alleged breach of Rule 1402(1)(a) and Rule 1402(8) that on 2 May 2023 at Levin Racecourse, the Respondent, being an Accountable person failed to comply with the NZTR Welfare Standards (Welfare Code) by failing to take all reasonable steps to ensure the physical health needs of four thoroughbred horses were met. The four horses concerned were described as:
a. Unnamed and Unregistered 985125000106032, GB 3 Over 0, Mulaazem Shamtaari, Chestnut Mare, 2020.
b. Unnamed and Unregistered 985125000106030, GB 5 Over 0, Mulaazeem Southern Point, Chestnut Mare, 2020.
c. Unnamed 985125000106033, GB 2 Over 0, Mulaazem Finderz Keepas, Bay/Brown Gelding, 2020.
d. Unnamed 985125000120926, GB 1 over 9, Mulaazem Zoe Spice, Bay/Brown Filly, 2019.
3. The Informant further particularised that the reasonable steps the Respondent failed to take were:
a. Failing to provide the horses with adequate hydration and nutrition.
b. Failing to provide three horses with adequate hoof care.
4. A preliminary case conference took place on 16 June 2023. No admission to the charges was made at that stage, with the Respondent indicating that she wished to seek legal advice.
5. Following email correspondence indicating the Respondent intended to defend the charges, a further Memorandum was issued by the Adjudicative Committee on 19 July 2023, adjourning the previous fixture and setting down today’s date for hearing, to enable the Respondent further time to prepare for a defended hearing.
6. After deliberating at the conclusion of the hearing, where evidence and submissions were presented by the Informant, the Adjudicative Committee found the charge to be proved. It advised that full reasons in writing would follow. Further directions are made at  as to Penalty Submissions.
7. The Adjudicative Committee now records the detailed reasons for its findings.
NO APPEARANCE BY THE RESPONDENT
8. The hearing was scheduled to commence today at Awapuni Racecourse at 10.00am. Attempts were made by the Informant to contact the Respondent, to no avail.
9. The Chair also requested the Registrar to contact the Respondent with no success.
10. The Informant confirmed to the Adjudicative Committee that the Respondent has been provided with notice of today’s hearing, and no explanation has been provided by the Respondent for her absence, nor any further adjournment sought.
11. The Adjudicative Committee noted that, on the basis of the Respondent’s indication of her intention to defend the charges, the previous hearing fixture was adjourned to enable more time for the Respondent to prepare and participate in today’s hearing.
12. In all the circumstances, the Adjudicative Committee determined it was just and reasonable that the hearing proceed and exercised the power available to the Adjudicative Committee under Rule 913(1) of the Rules, enabling the hearing to proceed in the absence of the Respondent.
13. This charge relates to four horses owned by the Respondent, which the Informant alleges, were subjected to severe neglect and mistreatment. Initial reports on February 19, 2023, indicated that the horses lacked access to water and were not receiving proper care.
14. Subsequent investigations by RIB staff and Equine Veterinarian Dr Phylisia Loh noted the horses’ deteriorating conditions, including dehydration, malnutrition, overgrown hooves, and severe weight loss. The Respondent was issued a Compliance Notice, giving her 28 days to rectify the situation.
15. The horses were subsequently uplifted under an NZTR Possession Order and relocated for care and treatment.
16. Mr Grimstone opened the case for the Informant, calling evidence from Dr Phylisia Loh a Registered Veterinarian, and Ms Georgie Murrow, RIB Investigator. The Adjudicative Committee exercised the powers available under Rule 913(1) of the Rules to also admit the statements of Mr Keith Coppins, RIB Stipendiary Steward, Ms Dana Sutton, NZTR Thoroughbred Re-Trainer, and Mr Richard Dawson, SPCA Investigator.
17. Dr Loh gave detailed evidence to the Adjudicative Committee and further produced four Veterinary Reports dated 21 February 2023, 1 March 2023, 4 May 2023 and 11 May 2023. Dr Loh also produced x-ray imaging.
18. Dr Loh holds a Bachelor of Veterinary Science Degree and has been an Equine Veterinarian for six years.
19. Ms Murrow requested that Dr Loh examine four photographs of horses on 21 February 2023. Dr Loh classified the body condition score of the first horse as a 3-4 out of 9, the second horse as a 3-4 out of 9, the third horse as a 3 out of 9. Dr Loh further observed from the photographs that there appeared to be limited pasture available and a pot-bellied appearance reflecting a lack of muscle conditioning and noted it can be a consequence of poor nutrition and reduced protein intake, also highlighting horses with significant worm burdens may also present clinically as pot-bellied and dull coated.
20. At the request of Ms Murrow, Dr Loh attended Levin Racecourse on 1 March 2023 to examine the same four horses and in a further Veterinary Report, Dr Loh noted a body condition score of all four horses of between 3 and 5 out of 9, indicating they were in moderate condition, however they had pot-bellied appearance.
21. Dr Loh observed, upon provision of clean water by the RIB Investigator, all four horses were eager to drink from the bucket, indicating that there was prolonged thirst and lack of access to reliable, daily supply of drinking water. In addition, there was no evidence of supplemental forage, i.e., hay or silage available for these horses to graze.
22. In Dr Loh’s view, the environment the horses were kept in was inappropriate with poor fencing, gates, lack of pasture and insufficient space for four horses to exhibit normal behaviour. It was highlighted that horses confined to small areas, e.g., yards, are more susceptible to temperature and weather extremes as they are unable to move freely.
23. In Dr Loh’s opinion, the Owner, or person in charge of those horses, had failed to maintain the health and welfare of the animals in accordance with the Code of Welfare for horses and donkeys. The biggest principle of animal welfare, freedom from hunger and thirst, had not been met, with the Code stating that provision of adequate supply of water is critical for maintaining equine health and welfare.
24. On 2 May 2023, again at the request of both the RIB and SPCA, Dr Loh attended 306 Hokio Beach Road, Levin, to visit the same four horses. In Dr Loh’s assessment at the time, the horses needed to be relocated to an environment with access to supplementary feed, clean water, Farrier care and a de-worming program.
25. Dr Loh noted overlong and cracked hooves in two out of four horses, and that three out of the four horses had lost condition from her last visit, with their ribs, tail point, and hips now easily discernible. A basic examination revealed delayed skin tent, pale mucous membranes and prolonged capillary refill time, which Dr Loh stated were all clinical signs of dehydration/hypovolemia.
26. In addition, faecal samples collected for lab analysis recovered cyathostomin larvae and low counts of strongyle eggs. This indicated an active endoparasite life cycle which required treatment.
27. In Dr Loh’s opinion, the horses in question had not been afforded adequate care to meet welfare standards, and although the relocated paddock site was larger than the previous housing environment, a forage only diet is inadequate to meet the protein, vitamin, and mineral requirements of four young, growing horses. There continued to be a lack of access to water, and Dr Loh recommended the horses be relocated to an environment with access to supplemental feed and water, together with provision of Farrier care and appropriate deworming treatment.
28. On 11 May 2023, Dr Loh reinspected the horses at Jump Start Retraining Facility, the horses were treated for worms and their feet were trimmed by a Farrier under radiographic guidance.
29. Dr Loh referred to the radiographs and outlined that three of the four horses were suffering from mechanical laminitis. Dr Loh further observed that the fourth horse was nervous and shying to the left, imaging revealed a mass on the jaw arising from scar tissue, likely the result of concussion.
30. In response to further questions, Dr Loh highlighted that, as a most basic principle, if you have an animal, you need to give it water and food as a basic necessity, and in addition, the environment the horses were in with string used as fencing, was inadequate and rendered them prone to escape.
31. In response to a question from the Adjudicative Committee as to the level of pain or distress the horses were in, Dr Loh suggested in relation to the laminitis, there would be mild to moderate pain, but more significantly in relation to distress, the lack of water and appropriate feed cycle was significant.
32. Dr Loh highlighted in particular that horses are flight animals, so it was unusual to see all the horses come running for the water. In response to a further question from the Adjudicative Committee, Dr Loh indicated in a growing two-year-old horse, she would expect to observe a body condition score in the 4-6 range.
33. Ms Murrow outlined that she received information on 19 February 2023 about four horses belonging to the Respondent, located at Levin Racecourse, that were not receiving adequate care and attention, in particular concern with the lack of access to water.
34. Ms Murrow visited Levin Racecourse on 20 February 2023 and exercised powers available under r 1403 of the Rules, to enter and inspect the property. Ms Murrow describes finding four horses located in a small, well-grazed paddock with limited grass available, two water containers in the paddock were empty with no alternative water source. The Adjudicative Committee was shown photographs of the containers and the state of the horses on initial inspection.
35. Ms Murrow described the horses gathering round the water receptacles as they were being filled and being anxious to drink and drinking for some time. The photographs were referred to Dr Loh for assessment. Following that assessment, NZTR served a compliance notice on the Respondent, giving her 28 days to improve the condition of the horses.
36. Arrangements were made to meet with the Respondent on 28 February 2023 to provide this notice. The Respondent cancelled the meeting shortly before it was due to take place, documents were left in her mailbox and emailed to her. Ms Murrow undertook a further visit to check on the four horses at the Levin Racecourse, and again located them in the same paddock with no grass available, and no evidence of supplementary feed, in addition the water receptacles were, once more, empty and the horses gathered around empty containers. Ms Murrow described, upon refilling the water receptacles the horses were anxious to drink and fighting one another to get their heads into the containers. In addition, the temperature that day was noted as 29 degrees.
37. Ms Murrow was able to make telephone contact with the Respondent, who acknowledged that she was the person responsible for the horses and confirmed her receipt of the compliance notice. By way of explanation, she advised that she thought other people were attending to her horses’ water. The Respondent advised that she would comply with the order and move the horses to a more suitable location.
38. Ms Murrow described making a further follow-up on 1 March 2023, accompanied by Mr Keith Coppins, and locating the horses at Levin Racecourse, moved to another small unsuitable section with no access to feed, and the only water source being a dirty container. Ms Murrow describes emptying it, cleaning it, and refilling it, and the horses immediately drinking the clean water.
39. As a result of this, Dr Loh was called to again inspect the horses and the Respondent advised that if urgent action was not taken immediately to improve the condition of the horses, they would be uplifted from her care.
40. A follow-up assessment visit was undertaken by Ms Murrow on 7 April 2023. The horses had recently been moved to a Marae located at 306 Hokio Beach Road and were in a fresh, un-grazed paddock with ample grass, and had been fed supplementary hay. In addition, they were all wearing covers, and had access to water.
41. The Respondent advised that the horses had been treated for worms and two of the four had been seen by a Farrier. It was explained by the Respondent that the other two needed more handling before their feet could be treated, and this was something that was being worked towards. A plan was made to recheck the horses again in another 28 days’ time.
42. On 2 May 2023, Mr Murrow received a call to assist the SPCA with four horses located at the Hokio Beach Road property that had been abandoned by their Owner, and did not have access to feed and water, and had escaped repeatedly on to the road.
43. Upon arrival at the property, Ms Murrow noted that the horses were located around three empty water containers. Again, the horses fought one another to gain access to the water and all showed symptoms of extreme thirst. The paddock had been extensively grazed, with no evidence of supplementary feed, and there was inappropriate fencing between the horses and the road.
44. Dr Loh was again requested to attend and undertake an assessment. Based on that assessment, the Chief Executives of NZ Racing and the RIB authorised seizure of the horses pursuant to Rule 1415 of the Rules. Ms Murrow oversaw the uplift and relocation of the horses to an accredited NZTR Re-Trainer.
45. The horses were again examined by Dr Loh on 11 May 2023 and Farrier Mr Pat Schimanski. The horses were treated with Moxidectin Dewormer after faecal analysis recovered larvae. Examinations also showed that three of the four horses were suffering from mechanical laminitis due to overlong, neglected feet. Blood tests taken indicated selenium deficiency and other conditions.
46. In Mr Coppins’ statement, he describes his initial attendance on 20 February 2023, accompanied by Ms Murrow and the eagerness of the horses to drink when he refilled the water containers. Mr Coppins also described similar experiences in having to refill water on subsequent visits, together with observing a lack of grass and no indications of supplementary feed.
47. Ms Murrow confirmed that three of the four horses have been able to be successfully rehomed in polo and associated activities, however one was required to be euthanised.
48. Ms Sutton provides evidence of the steps taken between May 2023 to transport and rehome the horses. Ms Sutton describes her initial impression of the horses as agitated and showing behaviour, in Ms Sutton’s opinion, that was consistent with unhandled and untrained horses. The horses required sedation on the float. In Ms Sutton’s view, the horses had not started their education process and not received basic handling, and that this was uncommon within the Racing Industry, given their age.
49. Mr Dawson provided a statement confirming that he is a Senior Animal Welfare Inspector with the SPCA. Mr Dawson attended Hokio Beach Road on 2 May 2023, after receiving a report that four horses had been abandoned by their Owner. On arrival, Mr Dawson observed the horses located on the property as underweight, and that there was no edible pasture and no evidence of supplementary feed. In addition, there was absolutely no water available, and when provided water, the horses began fighting one another trying to drink.
50. Mr Dawson dealt with the Respondent on previous occasions in July 2022, and August 2022. On both occasions he noted that the horses were reported as being underweight. A Vet was engaged to undertake a full examination and the horses were taken into custody pursuant to Section 1275 of the Animal Welfare Act 1999. Further investigations by Mr Dawson at the time of this incident, indicated there was a property relationship dispute as to ownership and responsibility for the horses.
51. In closing, Mr Grimstone highlighted that Dr Loh’s evidence was self-explanatory and expert opinion as to the level of care the horses didn’t receive, resulting in significant neglect. Mr Grimstone highlighted the totality for all four horses was ongoing neglect, resulting in significant breaches of the Animal Welfare Rules and a Serious Racing Offence.
52. Other than a passing remark at the teleconference by the Respondent that she thought people had deliberately tipped the water buckets over, the Adjudicative Committee has nothing by way of evidence from the Respondent to consider.
53. r 1401 states:
1401 Rules 1402 and 1403 apply, in respect of a horse, to:
(a) the Accountable Person of that horse at the applicable time; and
(b) each of the Owner(s), lessee(s), Racing Manager and Trainer (as applicable) of that horse at the applicable time, to the extent that that horse is in that person’s possession or custody, or under that person’s care, control, or supervision.
54. r 1402(1) provides:
1402 (1) Each person to whom this Rule applies in respect of a horse must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the physical, health, and behavioural needs of the horse are met in a manner that is in accordance with both:
(a) good practice; and
(b) scientific knowledge.
(2) Without limiting sub-Rule (1) of this Rule, each person to whom this Rule applies in respect of a horse must ensure that the horse receives, as soon as is reasonably practicable, husbandry or treatment that alleviates any deficiencies in nutrition or provisions or unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress being suffered by the horse.
55. r 1402(8) provides:
(8) For the purpose of Rule 801(t), any breach of this Rule 1402 is deemed to be a Serious Racing Offence.
56. r 801(t) provides:
SERIOUS RACING OFFENCES
801 (1) A person commits a Serious Racing Offence within the meaning of these Rules who:
(t) commits a breach of any Rule which is or may be deemed to be a Serious Racing Offence by these Rules;
57. In considering these charges in RIB v Lewis, the Adjudicative Committee observed (Racing Integrity Board v Lewis  RIB 16175 at ):
Animal Welfare responsibilities of an Accountable person, if ignored, as Mr Lewis has:
Jeopardise the health, welfare and humane requirements of a horse.
Place the social licence and reputation and standards of the Industry/profession in peril.
58. The Adjudicative Committee has considered all of the evidence given at hearing and is satisfied that the Respondent is an Accountable person for the purposes of the Rules, and that the horses were, at all material times, under her care, control or supervision.
59. Furthermore, the Adjudicative Committee is further satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that there is clear evidence to establish that the Respondent failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the physical, health, and behavioural needs of the horses were met in a manner that is in accordance with both good practice; and scientific knowledge.
60. It is clear that the horses concerned did not receive, as soon as practicable, husbandry or treatment in the form of provisions to avoid unnecessary pain or distress being suffered. More particularly, the Adjudicative Committee finds that the Respondent:
a. Failed to ensure that the horses received appropriate nutrition.
b. Failed to ensure that the horses received provisions, namely adequate water.
c. Failed to ensure the horses received provisions, namely adequate grass and supplementary feed.
d. Failed to ensure that the horses received husbandry and treatment in relation to Farrier care, resulting in mechanical laminitis.
e. Failed to ensure that the horses received appropriate treatment in relation to worms and resultant infection.
f. Failed to ensure husbandry to alleviate distress in relation to the keeping of the horses in inadequate and inappropriately contained facilities.
61. Therefore, having regard to the above, the Adjudicative Committee is satisfied that the charge is proved, and that the Respondent being an Accountable person, failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure the physical health needs of four thoroughbred horses were met.
62. Accordingly, the Respondent has committed a Serious Racing Offence under the Rules.
63. The Adjudicative Committee, having found the charges proved, now turns its considerations to appropriate penalty. In light of this being a Serious Racing Offence, and the lack of engagement by the Respondent, the Adjudicative Committee is agreeable to affording the Respondent a final opportunity to be heard in this matter before it proceeds to issue decision as to penalty.
64. The Adjudicative Committee makes the following directions in relation to penalty hearing:
a. The Informant shall provide its submissions as to penalty on or before 21 August 2023.
b. The Respondent may provide any submissions as to penalty on or before 4 September 2023.
65. If the Respondent wishes to be heard in person as to penalty, they are to advise the Executive Officer as soon as possible and the Adjudicative Committee will issue a further Minute with directions in relation to that, in the absence of any further response from the Respondent, the Adjudicative Committee will proceed to determine penalty on the papers.
Decision Date: 07/08/2023
Publish Date: 11/08/2023