'Concerns remain' after deadline passes for David Marshall to improve skinny horses' condition

Holly Farm owner David Marshall is under investigation for his treatment of Arabian horses on his Canterbury stud farm.

Holly Farm owner David Marshall is under investigation for his treatment of Arabian horses on his Canterbury stud farm.

A Canterbury horse breeder under investigation after claims he was keeping skinny, wounded and dead animals has made "some improvement", but concerns remain.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) gave Holly Farm owner David Marshall until the end of May to improve the condition of some of his 70-plus Arabian horses after it received a complaint about skinny horses in January.

MPI's clout in dealing with animal-welfare complaints has since been questioned as it received 12 complaints about Marshall's horses between 2010 and 2017.

The horse's rib cage is visible in this photo taken in January.

The horse's rib cage is visible in this photo taken in January.

Some claim Marshall mistreated horses at his Leeston property for years and authorities took too long to act.

READ MORE: Canterbury's Holly Farm owner David Marshall under investigation over skinny horses

An MPI spokeswoman said the ministry was now "carefully considering" its next steps.

MPI said it found the condition of some horses, like this one photographed in January, needed improving.

MPI said it found the condition of some horses, like this one photographed in January, needed improving.

"We have noted some improvement in the condition of the majority of the horses at Holly Farm, however there remain some concerns regarding the management of the stock."

The latest investigation was sparked after "multiple" complaints, many of which related to a circulating photograph of at least two dead horses in a water-filled offal pit.

Marshall said he had the wellbeing of his horses under control and that complaints about their condition were "unfounded".

Horse neglect photo taken by a complainant in January and sent to MPI.

Horse neglect photo taken by a complainant in January and sent to MPI.

"Their care and daily needs were never lacking."

Ad Feedback

It was a "perception" his horses were "too light", he said.

"At the end of the day I do not have horses die from neglect or malnutrition or lack of provisions."

He claimed he had not been forced to put any animals down, as some complainants had said, but he had euthanised two old, retired mares: "They were just old."

"There is an encouragement to lessen numbers and to improve condition and that's been done via sales and normal procedures that I've undertaken myself."

He had sold at least 10 horses and had about 60 left, he said.

"There's no doubt about it, with autumn conditions being so ideal from being basically through three seasons of drought, the whole situation is streets ahead of where we were in February."

Marshall continued the stud's breeding programme and said he did not see any reason why he could not continue adding to his stock.

"I have not been told that I'm not allowed to buy a horse."

Marshall felt "absolutely bullied and targeted" by a social-media "hate campaign".

Horse-welfare activist Nikki Subritzky said she did not believe a month was enough time to rehabilitate horses in a bad condition.

"It doesn't happen overnight with them when they're so neglected. It takes about a year."

She claimed complaints about Marshall in the past had all ended the same way.;

"We complain, authorities step in, cull a few [horses] off because they don't want to spend the resources on rehabilitating and they think 'Out of sight, out of mind'," Subritzky said.

"Then they leave him to repeat the process."

MPI documents said inspections of Marshall's animals over the years identified no welfare issues or found horses were in "light body condition, but not below minimum standard". Marshall was often advised and educated on stocking rate and feeding.

Last month, experts claimed there was a "major problem" with New Zealand's animal-welfare law, with just 17 inspectors in charge of protecting millions of animals.

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers

Auckland in for more bad weather

MetService's rain radar showed light (yellow) to moderate (blue) falls in Auckland on Friday evening.

Heavy rain, possible thunderstorms and hail in store for Auckland, MetService warns.

Meth on the ropes

Gang members face off in Northland ahead of Saturday's 'Keep it in the Ring' fight night.

Rival gangs gather to "fight P" in charity martial arts event.

Teacher 'spooned' student

Ian McKinney was sentenced on Friday at the North Shore District Court.

Auckland man gets home detention for "hugging" two international students in just his underwear and singlet.

Stormwater deluge leads to court action

Virgin bush at Charles Graves' property in Onetangi.

Waiheke Island residents are taking Auckland Transport to court over flooding.


Ex-cop battles police to save RSA

Former Titahi Bay RSA president John Ward.

Alcohol sting was excessive, and could have shut club permanently, he says.

Slip halts Jville trains

A slip has halted trains on Wellington's Johnsonville line. (File photo).

Trains have been replaced by buses, which are likely to be full during rush hour.

Wellington doused by rain

Heavy rain is set to ease into showers, but they'll be heavy. (File photo)

About 15mm of rain fell overnight in Wellington, and a train station has flooded.

Masterton has the winning chips

Masterton's Mr Chips, which was recently named the country's best chip shop.

So what's the secret behind cooking up the best hot chips in the country?


Second meth clean-up at complex

The Housing NZ Gloucester St unit being decontaminated for methamphetamine has been stripped of carpet.

HNZ's tenancy management negligence is creating a "ghetto-like environment", resident says.

Live: Timaru declares


Flooding in Ashburton is causing havoc for residents. Roads turning into rivers

State of emergency has been declared in Timaru district as flood waters continue to rise and part of SH1 is shut.

Heavy rains, flooding in photos

School Park in Timaru submerged by plenty of water from heavy rain.

Roads have turned into rivers as a huge winter storm moves down the South Island. 

Missing woman's car found

Canterbury Police are looking for 34 year old Melissa Jane Dalgety. She was last seen on Thursday morning and is ...

Search and rescue and surf lifesaving volunteers join police search for Melissa Dalgety.


Honeymoon hoon's 202kmh ticket

Brazilian surgeon Marco Filho, adjusting his belt after leaving the Hamilton courthouse on Friday, was charged with ...

Safe to say the Brazilian speedster is not in the good books of his new wife.

'Slow the (truck) down'

A variable speed limit for the section of Gordonton Road could be in place within a couple of months, council's ...

Frustrated city councillors send a message to drivers at a troublesome Hamilton intersection.

Anti-mining edge sharpened

The Kopu Hikuai Road, near Thames, is where high-level protections on Coromandel DOC land ends.

Coromandel MP dismisses petition as election year noise.

Shot man's partner found

A police guard stands out the front of a Whangamata Rd property in Kinloch after a man was shot there on Thursday night.

Police would not release the victim's name until at least Saturday, after a post-mortem.


Truck blocks highway

The trailer of a large truck has rolled and was blocking half of SH3 near Waitotara in Taranaki on Friday.

One lane was blocked on SH3 near Waitotara after a truck crash on Friday morning.

Pre-nup was unfair

The High Court has upheld a lower court decision for a couple to equal property shares after separating

A pre-nuptial agreement gave one partner $20,000, and the other partner $1.5 million worth of assets.

Contented in Tikorangi

The cave had mysterious myths abut it but turned out to be a simple earth-moving creation.

This garden is a treasure as are the people who created it.

Doing the dirtiest work

After Disaster owner James Nunes-Vaz has never ever turned down a cleaning  job.

After the police and fire brigade have done their jobs at an emergency scene, the clean-up begins.


No way in, no way out video

The trail's reconstruction has made life much easier for villagers.

After the 2015 quake, villagers in Uhiya, Nepal were isolated, forced to fend for themselves.

Tennis courts for sale

Feilding's four asphalt courts will be sold despite five submissions opposing the sale.

Feilding's four asphalt courts will be sold despite strong opposition.

Residents want 'bickering' to end

Horowhenua ratepayers want mayor Michael Feyen and the council to get on with their work.

Horowhenua ratepayers are fed up with a council that clashes.

Crank It Cycles targeted again

Crank It Cycles owner Steve Pedley is frustrated his store has been targeted again.

A window was smashed in an attempted burglary, causing thousands of dollars of damage.


Battle to return soldier's diary

Margaret Kearns of Stoke, Nelson with a copy of her father's dairy, Hartley Palmer.

The Government has intervened to help return a war diary to its rightful home in Nelson.

Nelson's changing face

La Per and Mu Su Pan say they enjoy living in Nelson.

A fifth of Nelson's population was born overseas. Can the city meet their needs?

Dairy owners 'terrified'

Vijay, left, and Darshini Chauhan speak with Nelson Police Senior Sergeant Blair Hall  following a robbery at the dairy ...

After a spate of robberies across Nelson, the council has initiated a meeting with police and dairy owners.

I can beat Bolt - Malone

Kiwi para athlete Liam Malone reckons he can break Usain Bolt's 100m record within three years.

Nelson para-athlete wants to use high tech superblades to become fastest man in world.


'Why not' sink navy ship?

Waikawa Dive Centre instructor Kate Trayling, left, and owner Stuart Scaife hope to use a decommissioned navy boat, ...

Divers push to sink HMNZS Endeavour in Marlborough Sounds for Cook commemoration.

Heavy rain causes slip

A section of State Highway 6 between Blenheim and Nelson has been closed to one lane following a slip on the road.

SH6 down to one lane after rain hits the top of the south.

No parole for dance teacher

Stayz Raukawa was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail at the Blenheim District Court in 2015. (File photo)

The sex offender will not finish treatment outside of jail, after his victim spoke to the parole board.

Finals time at Lansdowne

Marlborough division one grand final rivals, Baxter Wilson, left, captain of Moutere, and Glen Ballam, co-captain of ...

Whatever happens at Lansdowne Park on Saturday, history will be made.

South Canterbury

State of emergency declared  gallery video

BP on Evans St, Timaru, has flooded.

Timaru declared in state of emergency as floodwaters rise threatening homes and businesses.

Downpours strike  video

Flood water filled the petrol station forecourt.

Storm sweeps south as Timaru placed under state of emergency.

Smith asked to meeting

National Party Rangitata candidate Andrew Falloon will discuss the controversial wood burner rule with Environment ...

Controversial wood burner rules an election issue as National joins the fray.

New patrol proposed

Temuka Neighbourhood Support co-ordinator Jocelyn McKay said a new Temuka community patrol group has been proposed to ...

A community patrol is set to be established in Temuka following vandalism in the town this week.


Stewart Island heritage gets $1m

An artist's impression of the Rakiura Heritage Centre. The centre has received, over $1 million in Government funding to ...

The Government is to commit $1.08m to the Rakiura Heritage Centre Trust.

Post-funeral brawl

Police and ambulance were alerted to the incident, but were not eventually required.

A post-funeral gathering in Bluff on Thursday night ended with blood, broken glass and a visit from the police.

Irrigation scheme 'a win-win'

Dairy Creek Ltd director Tim O'Sullivan, Pioneer Energy chief executive Fraser Jonker and Pioneer Energy project manager ...

A $10m irrigation scheme near Alexandra, Central Otago, is going to deliver water to about 1800 hectares of barren land.

Gecko stolen from visitor centre

The Marlborough green gecko that was stolen from the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre in Te Anau.

An at risk gecko has been stolen from the DoC visitor centre in Fiordland.

Ad Feedback