The owner of a Caspian stud in south Yorkshire has been banned from keeping horses for 10 years — and given a suspended prison sentence — for causing unnecessary suffering.

Animal welfare officers from Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council said they found “significant evidence of neglect” on visiting Deborah Thomson’s Darkhorse Stud in Wakefield last November.

“We found one dead pony, which had its legs entangled in a rug, and we lost another pony later,” said Simon Frow of Barnsley Council.

Thomson had 76 pure- and part-bred Caspians on the site, a rare breed originating from the Caspian Sea in Iran.

Officers found them in “cramped, overcrowded conditions”, with some covered in their own faeces and urine. 8 were immediately removed by the council.

Last year, 20 were taken into the care of the RSPCA and Blue Cross, but an RSPCA prosecution collapsed due to incorrect procedures.

Welfare officers from Barnsley Council launched a successful prosecution. On 12 September, at Barnsley Magistrates Court, Thomson pleaded guilty to 7 cases of causing unnecessary suffering and failing to carry out her duty of care.

She was banned from keeping horses for 10 years, given a 9-week prison sentence — suspended for 12 months — and ordered to pay almost £2,700 in costs.

Assurances were given to the court that the remaining horses had been sold or given away. The Caspian Horse Society helped with rehoming.

Ruth Staines, the society’s chairman, expressed her “grateful thanks” to Barnsley Council for the successful prosecution.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (26 September, 2013)