Dartmoor pony breeder and judge David Hinde has been banned from keeping horses for three years, after admitting causing unnecessary suffering to a pony.

Mr Hinde – who bred, but no longer owns, last year’s dual Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and Olympia champion Pumphill Buckthorn – pleaded guilty at Beverley Magistrates Court, East Yorks on 26 September.

He was ordered to pay a fine and costs totaling £1,000.

The RSPCA, which brought a private prosecution, said the “emaciated” and “dehydrated” bay colt found in Mr Hinde’s care in March 2010 was so unresponsive, vets considered putting him to sleep.

He has now made a full recovery.

Mr Hinde also pleaded guilty to not meeting the needs of 13 other ponies by failing to address the causes of their poor body condition.

But the respected producer has told H&H that a leading vet disagrees with the RSPCA’s assessment of the ponies’ condition – and he is considering appealing against his sentence.

Inspectors went to a yard rented by Mr Hinde in Kiplingcotes, East Yorks, on Sunday 7 March 2010, following a call from a member of the public.

RSPCA inspector Hannah Bryer said the colt was “at death’s door”, while other ponies were “significantly underweight”.

Thirty-one ponies were seized by the police and placed in the charity’s care.

Mr Hinde told H&H he had been feeding the colt up and had seen him the evening before. But he was unable to get to the yard the next morning, because he was looking after a neighbour who was seriously ill.

He added there was a “gross discrepancy” between his own vet’s assessment of the ponies’ condition and that of the RSPCA.

Mr Hinde stepped down from the council of the National Pony Society (NPS) in April 2010.

“The sentence is incomprehensible,” he said. “Ponies have been my life.”

But Ms Bryer said the RSPCA supports the judge’s decision. “The colt was the thinnest horse I’ve ever seen alive,” she said.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (6 October, 2011)