A woman who neglected 16 ponies has been disqualified from keeping equines for four years.

Kathryn Showell, from Sileby, Leicestershire, was sentenced at Leicester Magistrates’ Court on Friday (9 March) after pleading guilty to 31 Animal Welfare Act offences at an earlier hearing.

Kathryn caused unnecessary suffering and failing to meet the needs of 16 ponies – four of which were in such a poor condition that they had to be put down.

The court heard that Showell was known to local RSPCA inspectors who had previously given advice on improving the animals’ welfare – however the advice was not followed.

The RSPCA and a vet issued a warning to Showell last summer after it was found she’d failed to seek veterinary treatment for two Shetland ponies called Bobby and Pixie, who were emaciated and suffering from dental problems.

When examined by a vet, they were also found to have diarrhoea and heavy worm burdens.

RSPCA inspector Sally Kearns said: “Bobby and Pixie were in a terrible state – their teeth were so rotten that they couldn’t eat properly, and they had ulcers and infections in their mouth.”

Two more of Showell’s ponies – named Stella and Pearl, who were kept in a field in Cotes Road, Barrow-upon-Soar – had to be euthanised after they were so emaciated that they were just about able to stand up.

A pony named Bella was also put to sleep on humane grounds, and a pony named Jonathan was found dead on site by RSPCA inspectors.

As well as a four-year ban on keeping equines, Showell was given a 14-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to pay £150 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.

A deprivation order was made on Showell’s remaining 29 horses, who will now come into the RSPCA’s care.

Showell’s solicitor told the court that the ponies were her “whole life” but that she had been living beyond her means, often going without food herself so she could feed the horses.

Inspector Kearns said: “This was a case that involved a large number of ponies that had been left to suffer because of neglect.

“We worked with Redwings, Blue Cross, World Horse Welfare and Bransby Horses to ensure the welfare of these horses and we’d like to thank them all.

“As a result of the court case, we now have 13 horses in our care, with an additional 29 on their way, who will go on to find loving new homes.”

Nic de Brauwere, head of welfare at Redwings, said: “I was one of three Redwings vets who attended the multi-agency rescue in January and on arrival it was clear that the ponies were in a state of suffering.

“There were simply too many horses and not enough resources to meet their needs. Consequently the animals were not receiving the basic care they needed with the majority suffering from lice and several in an emaciated condition. It was very upsetting to see and an extensive rescue operation.”

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