A woman has been given a suspended prison sentence and banned from keeping horses for three years after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering and failing to meet the needs of three horses in her care under the Animal Welfare Act.
Claire Louise Hopkins from Hampshire admitted three offences when she appeared before Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court last week.
The court heard how the horses were left stabled and unattended for at least two weeks between 19 April 2016 and 3 May 2016, during which time one of the horses, known as Phoebe, died and her body remained in with her stable mate, Fred.
A third horse, Molly, who was unknown at the time to be in-foal, was so emaciated that she was close to death.
A member of the public brought attention to the situation after they were concerned that no one had visited the stables in a while.
RSPCA inspector Jenny Ride said: “In my fifteen years as an RSPCA inspector this was the worst case I have ever seen. It was horrendous.
“To see a deceased horse basically rotting away and another horse, Molly, not long from death must have been mental, as well as physical torture, as horses are highly intelligent.
“In summing up it was clear that the judge understood the severity of the suffering endured by these three horses. She stated that this case involved the "dreadful treatment of the three animals" which involved a "period of starvation that was inexcusable”.
“This was a very distressing case but I am pleased that Fred, Molly and her foal Bluebell, who was born in our care, have now been successfully rehomed to the same new home.”
Hopkins admitted causing unnecessary suffering to Phoebe, Fred and Molly by failing to adequately investigate and treat the causes of their poor bodily condition; failing to meet the needs of Fred and Molly by failing to provide them with adequate hoof care and failing to meet the needs of Fred and Molly by failing to provide a suitable environment.
She was sentenced to eight weeks custody suspended for 12 months, a 20-day rehabilitation activity to be undertaken within 12 months, a £300 fine and an order to repay the vet costs of £274.80 payable at £10 a week.
RSPCA inspectorJenny Ride urged horse owners to seek help if they are struggling to cope.
She said: “We need to get the message out there that owning a horse is a huge commitment. If you are not coping or need help to rehome your horse please get help. It is unacceptable to allow animals to suffer in this way.”