Two women from West Sussex have been disqualified from keeping equines after allowing their two horses to fall into an emaciated state.

Nybella Stephens and Gemma Stevens both formerly of The Millers, Yapton, were sentenced at Brighton Magistrates’ Court in their absence on 27 November.

The case was proved in their absence after they also failed to attend a hearing earlier in the year (18 September).

The court heard that RSPCA animal rescue officer Marie Stevens and RSPCA inspector Cora Peeters attended a muddy field in Shripney Lane, Bognor Regis in December last year where the horses were being kept.

There they witnessed Magic, a 15-year-old chestnut gelding eat away at a wooden fence post because he was so hungry and there was nothing to eat.

“Approximately 75% of the field was flooded and the remainder of the field was deep with mud,” said inspector Peeters.

“The hedges and trees had been stripped of their bark by the horses. I couldn’t see any form of Ad-Lib feeder or hay on the ground.’

“Both Magic, belonging to Stevens, and Lexi, a bay mare belonging to Stephens were extremely thin and their bony protrusions were clearly visible. A vet attended and confirmed both horses were in a suffering condition to the extent that they were in an emaciated state.”

Magic dragged his rescuers to grass as soon as he was removed from the field. He weighed 356kg meaning he was at least 100kg underweight.

Lexi weighed 384kg. A thoroughbred of a similar height would be expected to weigh 450-500kg.

The horses were seized by police and removed to a private boarding facility to begin their recovery.

When they were reweighed less than three weeks later, Lexi had already gained over 20kg and Magic had gained 50kg.

Both defendants, who have failed to attend any of their court hearings, were found guilty of three offences each under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

In addition to the 10-year disqualification which bans them from keeping equines, they were fined £660 each and ordered to pay costs of £425 and a £66 victim surcharge.

Magic and Lexi who have both made “great recoveries” will be rehomed by World Horse Welfare.