The ILPH, takes custody of eight neglected and lice-infested ponies from an owner who had already been banned from keeping animals for five years

The International League for the Protection of Horses says its most recent rescue case of eight lice-infested ponies left for weeks without forage underlines its call for a change in the law.

The ILPH and other horse charities wants powers to remove animals from circumstances likely to cause unnecessary suffering rather than wait for an animal’s condition to deteriorate sufficiently before they can act.

The eight ponies were left by their owner in a barn with no forage or other provision for their welfare sincethe beginning of December.

The owner of the livery yard in West Meon in Hampshire where the ponies were kept alerted the ILPH on 17 January.

Dave Guy, the ILPH field officer, said: ” An inspector from the RSPCA and I wanted to take the ponies into custody straight away.

The owner wasn’t keen but agreed to sign over three of the ponies a few days after we found them.

” We left hay for the rest but it took lengthy negotiations between a third party to get her to sign over theremaining five on the 19 February.

“The frustrating thing was that despite all the suffering that these ponies had gone through, the law cannot touch the owner – in spite of a ban against her from keeping animals for five years.

” We wanted to get them out sooner but under existing legislation there was nothing else we could do.

Five of the ponies went to the ILPH centre at Cherry Tree Farm near Lingfield in Surrey. One, a foal, has been put down but the other four ponies are expected to recover.

Three other ponies went to the charity’s centre in Herefordshire where all are recovering.