A primary school teacher has been sacked after footage of a horse being kicked and slapped sparked outrage on social media.
Sarah Moulds, 37, was initially suspended from her position after the video showed a horse being kicked in the torso, slapped repeatedly in the face and dragged back to a trailer.
The footage was shared online in November by the anti-hunt group Hertfordshire Hunt Saboteurs, who said it filmed the incident while observing the Cottesmore Hunt, based in Rutland, east Midlands.
The clip, which has been viewed millions of times, sparked anger and Moulds was suspended by the Mowbray education trust, which represents seven schools in the Melton Mowbray area.
The trust has now said she has been dismissed. In a statement, Paul Maddox, the chief operating officer, said: “I can confirm that Sarah Moulds’ employment with the trust has been terminated.
“As a trust, we are committed to ensuring the best standard of education for all of our young people and we look forward to continuing this throughout the 2021/22 academic year and beyond,” the statement continued.
Moulds was also removed from her volunteer leadership position at the Pony Club, which organises horse rides for children.
Her uncle, David Kirkham, said Moulds was a “fantastic person who absolutely loves her horses”.
He added: “I’ve seen the video but we don’t know what the horse had been doing and if it was out of control. But we know it ran out onto the road and she told it off. There was no malice intended.”
In a statement at the time, the Pony Club said: “The welfare of horses and ponies is of the utmost importance to the Pony Club, therefore the lady in question has been removed from her voluntary position as a team organiser for a branch.”
The Hertfordshire Hunt Saboteurs called the footage “shocking”, while the RSPCA described it as “upsetting”. Moulds is being investigated by the RSPCA and the Hunting Office, the governing body which oversees hunting, and Leicestershire police confirmed it would assist the RSPCA with its inquiries.
In response to the video, the Hunting Office said it “expects the highest level of animal welfare at all times – both on and off the hunting field – and condemns the actions taken by this individual, who is not a member of the hunting associations”.
The Cottesmore Hunt said it did not condone the actions shown “under any circumstances”.