A SOBBING ex-teacher today told how her life “unravelled” as she cleared of animal cruelty after a video showed her slapping a horse.
Sarah Moulds “chastised” the grey pony named Bruce Almighty after it ran into a road in Lincolnshire in November 2021, it was said.
In footage shown to jurors, she was filmed using her open hand to slap the animal and yanked on its reins before kicking it with ridingon.
Moulds, 39, then pulled the 11-year-old horse into its box during the attack during the Cottesmore Hunt in an area known as The Drift.
She was today cleared of causing an animal unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and not taking reasonableto protect the animal from pain, suffering, injury or disease.
Moulds and her family wept as the verdict was delivered after five hours of jury deliberation.
Speaking outside court, the ex-teacher told how the damage done to her and her children’s lives could not be “undone”.
She also questioned the case being taken to court by the RSPCA and accused them of being “pressured” by online “bullies”.
Moulds added: “The jury’s decision today has vindicated me; however the damage from the last 20 months; trial by social media is irreversible.
“The loss of my career, the hand delivered death threats to me and my children, and the distress caused to my family cannot be undone.
“My loved ones have had to watch powerlessly as our life has unravelled based on falsehoods.”
The mum also said she “adores” her animals as she told how the ordeal had been “heart-wrenching”.
She added: “To those who judged me based on an incomplete story, I understand your concerns in relation to animal welfare.
“However, we sincerely hope that this incident serves as a reminder to us all about the power of social media, the responsibility we carry as users, and the importance of refraining from jumping to conclusions without knowing the full story.
“All my family and I wish for now, is to rebuild our lives, and move forward. Thank you for your time and understanding.”
Lincoln Crown Court heard how Bruce had “suffered physically and mentally” from Moulds’ “unnecessary and counter-productive” response.
Equine vet Dr Suzanne Green said the rider’s actions were “not proportionate, not appropriate and not in response to anything”.
But Moulds claimed she had intended to “briefly shock” the horse.
Denying she lost her temper, the mum said Bruce had unexpectedly taken off while a child was still holding onto his lead rope.
She said: “In that moment [Bruce] has done something incredibly dangerous and, in that exact moment, I decided that the right thing to do was discipline him quickly.
“In reality, in that moment, it was four seconds.
“My intention was then, and always was, to discipline Bruce in the moment so that he does not do it again.
“There was minimal contact and it was so quick and so short.”
Moulds also wept as she told how her family has received death threats since the incident and she had to go “into hiding”.
She lost her job as a teacher at the Mowbray Education Trust after the video was shared by anti-hunt saboteurs.
The experienced horse rider also claimed Bruce, who she still owns, has a “wonderfully idyllic” life.
She added: “I certainly will never strike a horse, discipline a horse, in that manner because my life has been torn to pieces as a result of that four-second decision.”
Dr Clive Madeiros, a veterinary surgeon, told the court it was likely the horse would only have felt “transient discomfort” and there was “not any hard evidence” he was in pain.
Moulds, who was charged by the RSPCA rather than the police or CPS, denied the charges.
The RSPCA said following the verdict: “We do not take the decision to bring prosecution lightly. We apply the same tests as the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether to prosecute someone for animal welfare offences.
“This requires there to be sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and for it to be in the public interest to prosecute.
“This case was reviewed by a prosecution case manager, an independent solicitor and a barrister who all agreed that the evidential test was met and with the support of two expert vets.
“We accept the court’s decision today and thank the jury for their careful consideration, but the public can be assured the RSPCA will always look into concerns that are raised to us about animal neglect and cruelty.”