RSPCA inspectors investigating reports of horse neglect were dismayed by what they encountered in a field north of York.
Six horses were being kept in terrible conditions, without food and water and with many dangerous hazards in their ramshackle enclosures.
The RSPCA took their owners to court. And Lorraine Potter, 62, and her daughter Toyah Potter, 21, both of Regent Drive, Easingwold have now been sentenced at York Magistrates Court.
They pleaded guilty to four animal welfare offences, and have been banned from keeping equines.
The court heard an RSPCA inspector attended a field in Sands Lane, Huby, in March 2020 after equine charity World Horse Welfare requested assistance.
RSPCA Inspector Claire Mitchell who investigated the case for the animal welfare charity said: “There was no sign of any food or water available to the animals and one of the ponies had broken through into an area where there were corrugated metal sheets and other hazardous items.
“That pony had its head in a bag of food and appeared to be very hungry.
“There were also other hazards in the field such as car batteries, a saw and pieces of wood. All of the horses had rugs on so it was not possible to assess their bodily conditions but some of them looked thin even with the rugs on.
“The paddock was completely poached of grazing and all of the horses appeared to be very hungry and were following us around.”
A vet and police attended the scene. The vet examined the animals individually and found four of them were in a suffering state. A bay gelding called Ronin, a black mare called Maggie May, a piebald mare called Missy and an elderly bay gelding called Corrie were all thin.
Ronin and a small piebald foal around six to nine months old called Bracken, as well as Corrie, were all suffering from lice infestations. Corrie was also suffering from lack of dental care and Star, a piebald yearling filly did not have her needs met.
In addition to the bans from keeping equines, donkeys, mules and their hybrids which can not be contested for ten and three years respectively, Lorraine Potter was sentenced to a 12-month community order to include up to 20 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days and a 16-week curfew where she will be electronically monitored.
She was also ordered to pay a £90 victim surcharge.
Toyah Potter was given a 12-month conditional discharge and a £21 victim surcharge. Both were ordered to pay £700 costs.
Police seized the six animals and passed them into the RSPCA’s care. They were all given water before being loaded onto a horsebox and taken to a place of safety at a private boarding establishment.
Mitigation was put forward in court that both defendants loved horses and they had found it distressing to accept that they had let these horses down. It was also said they had received threats and intimidation on social media.
In passing sentence, magistrates said to Lorraine Potter: “This sentence is imposed as a direct alternative to custody. The lack of care afforded to these animals was such that we are satisfied there was a prolonged level of neglect…These animals were neglected very badly at your hands.”
In addressing Toyah Potter they said: “We have been told that you are an animal lover. That may be the case but your emotional attachment to animals does not allow you to ignore their clear welfare needs.”