Council inspectors seized a horse living in a house just hours before its owner was
to finalise a strategy to avoid it “from being lifted,” Stornoway Sheriff Court has
The comhairle took away Stephanie Ann Noble’s adult Connemara pony, called Grey Lady
Too, in February 2014, claiming its living conditions for the previous two years
in the front room of her home at Broadbay View, Back, in Lewis, were too cramped
and broke government guidelines.
Though Ms Noble is still the official owner, the local authority is forced to pay
thousands of pounds in looking after it.
The council is embroiled in a long running court case to try and obtain legal ownership
so it can sell the horse.
Giving evidence in court, Ms Noble said she had devised an arrangement where a friend
had “agreed to buy” the pony.
“I knew the clock was ticking” referring to looming enforcement action, she said.
She told the local authority’s advocate, Mark Mohammed: “I freely admit this was
a temporary stopgap and she was willing to sell it back to me.”
This was to prevent the pony from “being lifted” by the council, she added.
The pair finalised the plan two days before the council raid. But the woman “had
to work on the Wednesday and was to come on the Thursday” to complete the sale.
Before that deal was executed, council animal welfare officers - accompanied by expert
horse handlers - arrived at noon on the Thursday and took away the horse. Since then
it has been stabled at the Uist Riding School in Benbecula.
At the scene, Ms Noble accused the officials of “theft as the pony no longer belonged
Mr Mohammed claimed she was “just making it up” while Ms Noble insisted she had a
Ms Noble said she acted for the health of the pony when it was “dumped” in her front
garden on a cold Christmas Eve in 2011.
After forming a stable out of “strong wooden partitioning” from recycled fencing,
she used a Liberal Democrat election sign and tape to seal off electric sockets which
had the power isolated, laid down MDF sheets, a heavy tarpaulin and specialist rubber
matting to protect the floor. She also removed the living room door and padded the
frame with lots of bubble wrap, she explained.
After one of a number of spats with Mr Mohammed in court, the lawyer requested she
“just focus on answering the question instead of answering back.”
Ms Noble insisted she met government guidelines for housing the pony, pointing out
she did not need special qualifications to understand what were actually just recommendations
and “not a law.”
She added: “I might not know anything about elephants but I will know if an elephant
would fit through my door or not.”
“If three fat ladies sat on an Italian sofa they would weigh far heavier” than the
Connemara pony, she stressed when her counsel, advocate Stewart Buchanan, queried
if the floor could bear the weight.
She also pointed out it was “virtually impossible - a 10,000 to one chance - the
pony would jump out the window” as the council claimed. Neither would it suddenly
fall and get stuck in a doorway, she added.
Ms Noble told the court she would build a shelter in her garden within two days if
the horse was returned to her.
The case before sheriff David Sutherland continues.
Council inadvertently foils “horse trading” deal, court hears
27 June 2017
Grey Lady Too being taken away on council orders.
Stephanie Ann Noble wants her pony back
The council had a waiting horsebox ready to drive to the Uist ferry