A woman has been banned from keeping horses for five years after leaving her horses starving to the point they became 'skeletal'.
Fiona Hume, from Essex, failed to feed her five horses properly, leaving them to become weak and drastically underweight.
This week, she pleaded guilty to two offenses under the Animal Welfare Act in a case brought by the RSPCA. Along with the five-year ban, Ms Hume was sentenced to an eight-week jail term, suspended for one year, 80 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £380.
RSPCA inspector Caroline Richardson, who investigated, said: “We were called to the yard in April this year on an entirely separate matter when we came across these horses and ponies.
“Three were given body condition scores of zero out of five, while two were rated as 0.5 out of five.
“They were so skinny. One of the ponies could barely stand, she was absolutely skeletal.
“I couldn’t speak when I saw them because it was so bad, I was totally shocked.”
The horses - 10-year-old grey Shetland Misty; 18-year-old bay Shetland Chocolate; six-year-old liver chestnut thoroughbred Zebedee; 20-year-old bay thoroughbred Keira; and 22-year-old palomino Arab Charlie - were all signed over to the RSPCA.
The horses are now doing well and the charity hopes to be able to rehome them now the case has concluded.
Inspector Richardson added: “As well as their awful condition, four of the horses had worms and two had skin problems caused by untreated lice.
“To let these horses get into such a shocking state is inexcusable and I hope that they will now go on to live out their days in wonderful, loving homes - with lots of grass to eat and hay to munch.”