The horses and ponies removed from Caldbeck Common were thin, deformed, had badly overgrown hooves, diseased teeth and were riddled with lice and worms.

So say UK equine charities accused of being overzealous in confiscating 102 horses and ponies from the care of Alan Brough two weeks ago.

“The British Horse Society, HorseWorld, Redwings, the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare were extremely concerned,” read a joint statement released last week, together with photographs.

“Some had noticeable deformities, which left them in pain or unable to keep up with the group and get enough grazing and water.”

Mr Brough was found hanged following the confiscation of ponies from the common and his yard in Newbiggin.

One local, who declined to be named, told H&H that the ponies had health problems that had not been addressed “for some time”.

“Many people offered Mr Brough help over the years, but he did not take it up, so removal of the ponies had to take place as a last resort,” she said.

“The welfare organisations need to be praised for having the courage to take action.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (12 August, ’10)