This is the complete, straight footage from the RSPCA, without narration.
Warning: this may be too graphic for some people to view or comprehend.
This is the television network version, with narration.
I was saving this story for the end of the year. I would have labeled this the worst news story of the year.
The story comes from England, the country on the planet with some of the strictest provisions for horse welfare and some of the most enabled law enforcement agencies dedicated to horse advocacy.
But it wasn't enough. Last January, a horrific news story broke, with tales of unimaginable, disgusting conditions. Agencies worked together to rescue close to 100 horses and house them all over England, but for many, it was too late. By the time they hacked through the red tape to get onto the farm, many horses lay dead and decaying on the ground.
The case, the horses, the entire saga has been encapsulated into a single word in British horse minds: "Amersham". Say no more. Amersham is the town in Buckinghamshire where horse dealer James Gray warehoused horses.
The farm's owners are now on trial, and this week a London newspaper, The Sun, went to court to release video taken by the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) when the premises were entered. Yesterday a link was released to a video download site, which is normal for the press. I didn't dally, but by the time I got to the link, the maximum downloads (usually 500 or 1000) had been reached.
That gives you some idea of the intensity of this trial. It will be the horse cruelty event by which all others will be measured. The news report shown here is from the ITN network and shows the less sordid footage; the narrator also provides some background.
I don't know how long it will take to reach a verdict, but it's not always a foregone conclusion that the owners will be convicted.
Click here to go to a dedicated site with a press file documenting the unfolding of this case.
There are many things I don't understand about this case and, until now, I had not seen the video, which is deeply disturbing. The fact that so many of the horses have stable blankets on seems so incongruous with neglected, abandoned, starving horses. There are also many, many questions about previous investigations of the property.