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Nelson community Facebook page under fire after horse owner accused of animal abuse

A community Facebook page in Nelson's under fire for a post which saw a pony owner accused of animal abuse.

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Nelson snippets has been reported to Netsafe and Facebook after upsetting messages were sent in by users. Source: 1 NEWS

Nelson Snippets was reported to Netsafe and Facebook by some local residents after upsetting messages were sent in by users.

Wild Oats Farm owner Kirsty Lalich took some of her ponies to a recent community event, including horse Hine.

"I know that the children of Wakefield like to see her and they feel quite empowered riding a big horse," Ms Lalich said.

It was there that photographs of Hine was taken and later published on Nelson Snippets, the anonymous post citing concerns over the condition of the animal.

"To me it looks like a skeleton, is this acceptable?" it questioned.

Comments piled on in response, with some calling for the owner to be named and shamed, and for the SPCA to investigate.

A post from Nelson Facebook community group Nelson Snippets. Source: Facebook / Nelson Snippets

Ms Lalich says she responded immediately, saying, "'That's one of my ponies. That's an awful shot, that's an old pony and that's an awful shot.' Whereupon I was just attacked, I was just slayed."

The pony owner had senior veterinarian Roger Bay examine Hine the next day.

He told 1 NEWS she was in "remarkably good health" with no concerns for her welfare and able to be ridden by children.

She was "free from worms, blood screen all clear and teeth normal for a horse of that age. It had a bright and happy disposition, eating and moving freely," he said.

"Many horses and livestock all over the district on the back of the drought are in a lean condition and this is the reality of the worst drought the region has seen in living memory."

Ms Lalich agrees her horses are "lighter in condition" than she would like following the Tasman fires and drought. She has since retired Hine from further pony rides and put her business on pause.

The post, originally published on Sunday, May 5, remained online until it was finally taken down on Monday, May 13.

The administrator of Nelson Snippets, who doesn't want to be identified, wouldn't respond to questions from 1 NEWS. But in a public post, they say they're making sure someone is always monitoring the page, taking it offline each night before going to bed.

Netsafe Education and Engagement Director Sean Lyons advises that people don't have to put up with content online that they feel is harmful.

"New Zealand has legislation called the Harmful Digital Communications Act that exists in order to protect people from the emotional harm that they may experience when people choose to share content of them online," Mr Lyons said.

The SPCA is asking communities to share animal welfare concerns with them by phone.

"It's important to remember that what you see on social media is not always the whole truth, and sometimes things can be misrepresented," an SPCA spokesperson said. "Posts like this can put people's wellbeing and livelihood at risk, so please think before you post."

The organisation says it wants everyone to treat animals with compassion and empathy "but we must extend this to people, too."