A primary school teacher who was sacked after appearing in a viral video which showed her striking a horse, has been cleared of an animal cruelty offence.

Sarah Moulds, 39, slammed the RSPCA for unsuccessfully trying to prosecute her as she was found not guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, a grey pony she owned called Bruce Almighty.

Footage surfaced of her punching and kicking the horse on November 6, 2021, shared by the Hertfordshire Hunt Saboteurs campaign group, which claimed the video was evidence of violence running through the veins of groups hunting animals for sport. Moulds then lost her job as a primary school teacher after an investigation.

But a jury of 11 men and one woman cleared Moulds of animal cruelty after just over five hours of deliberation following a three-day trial at Lincoln Crown Court.

Outside court, the ex-teacher wept as she hit out at the RSPCA for failing to engage with her, claiming that their case would have fallen apart had they visited Bruce to inspect him sooner after the incident.

The jury had heard that Moulds had owned the horse, a child's pony, for two-and-a-half years when they joined the Cottesmore Hunt, one of Britain's oldest foxhound packs at the time of the incident.

The Scottish Farmer: Sarah Moulds outside court after the verdict Sarah Moulds outside court after the verdict

Moulds had said that the horse took off unexpectedly while horses were being untacked, which saw him go on a jolly for 25 to 30 metres down the road in The Drift, Gunby, Lincolnshire.

As Bruce returned to his horse box, a hunt saboteur filmed Moulds kicking the horse in the chest and slapping him four times in the face before returning him to a horse box.

She said she had intended to briefly shock Bruce to discipline him quickly for running off, which she believed could have had severe consequences for both Bruce and the child riding him.

Ms Moulds said: "They are an animal charity, whose concern is animal welfare. They are the only charity in the UK with the powers to prosecute.

"They have been pressured to be seen to be doing something by online bullies and ill-informed high profile individuals, wasting a phenomenal amount of public donations to bring a politically charged case.

The Scottish Farmer: Footage of Ms Moulds Footage of Ms Moulds

"At no point over the last 20 months have they asked to examine Bruce Almighty, my child's pony, to see the environment in which he was looked after, or to check for injuries sustained."

Ms Moudld continued: "If they had visited Bruce on the day after this incident, or indeed any day in the last year and a half, they would have met a perfectly healthy, well cared for and happy pony – as verified by an independent veterinary practice at our request.

"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."

The RSPCA has defended its decision to prosecute Ms Moulds, citing a 95% success rate in animal welfare cases that it brings to court.

It led the prosecution case alone, with no input from the police or the Crown Prosecution Service.

A RSPCA spokesperson said: "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.

"We accept the court's decision 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."