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A woman whose neglect of her 16 ponies led to the deaths of four of them has been banned from keeping equines for four years.

Two of Kathryn Showell’s ponies had to be put down as they were so emaciated they could barely stand, another was found dead on site and a fourth had to be put down for “humane reasons”.

The 50-year-old, of Charles Street, Sileby, Leicestershire, was sentenced at Leicester Magistrates’ Court last Friday (9 March), having pleaded guilty to 31 offences under the Animal Welfare Act.

The court heard the RSPCA had previously given Showell advice on improving her animals’ welfare but that she had not followed it.

Inspectors and a vet visited the site where some 20 ponies were kept, on Leicester Road, Thurcaston, on 22 June 2016. They returned in August and issued a warning as Showell had not sought veterinary treatment for Shetlands Bobby and Pixie, who were emaciated and suffering dental problems.

A vet found both had diarrhoea and were “passing worm balls the size of tennis balls”.

“Bobby and Pixie were in a terrible state,” said RSPCA inspector Sally Kearns.

“Their teeth were so rotten that they could not eat properly, and they had ulcers and infections in their mouth.”

Two more of Showell’s ponies, Stella and Pearl, who were kept in a field in Cotes Road, Barrow-upon-Soar – were put down as they were so emaciated, a pony called Bella was also put down and a fourth, Jonathan, was found dead on site by the RSPCA.

On 19 January 2017, 13 more ponies were taken from Showell’s care as they were also suffering.

“This was a case which involved a large number of ponies which had been left to suffer because of neglect,” Ms Kearns said.

“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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As well as the ban, Showell was given a 14-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay £150 costs and a £115 victim surcharge. A deprivation order was made on her remaining 29 horses, who will now come into the RSPCA’s care.

In mitigation, Showell’s solicitor said 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.

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