A woman has been disqualified from ownership for five years after causing unnecessary suffering to five horses.

Christy Leigh Jones of The Mead, Darlington was sentenced at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on 8 December following a prosecution brought by the RSPCA.

“The stables in which the horses were found were filthy,” said RSPCA inspector Gemma Lynch, who led the investigation.

“The horses stood on inches of faeces. There was very little natural light and a strong smell of urine and faeces throughout.

“In order to lead the horses out of the individual stables, piles of sodden straw and faeces in the central aisle had to be cleared as they prevented the stable doors from opening.”

A vet examined each of the horses and concluded Micky, Paddy and Ruby had not had any hoof trimming for at least 12 months and Dinky and Rainbow Dash for six months or longer, based on the differences in hoof length.

The veterinary report submitted to the court also said: “These horses have been kept in appalling conditions.

“They were living in their own excrement and several of the horses had faecal material matted on their hair.

“This environment is completely unacceptable and is a significant health risk for these horses.

“Based on the depth of faecal material accumulated with bedding, I would estimate that these stables had not been appropriately managed for at least six months.”

Magistrates imposed a five-year disqualification in relation to horses only. Jones cannot apply to have the ban lifted for the entire five year period. She was also ordered to pay £840 costs.

Two of the horses have since been rehomed, with the remaining three soon to be made available for rehoming.