A family has been sent to prison and banned from keeping horses for life, after admitting to the neglect of four horses kept on chain tethers.

Walter Hickman, 52, Amanda Hickman, 49, and their 23-year-old son Kevin, all of Wallows Road, Brierley Hill, pleaded guilty to a total of 44 charges between them.

These included failing to provide the horses with a suitable diet, failing to take action when they started to lose weight and tethering them inappropriately.

Appearing before Dudley Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 20 March, Walter and Kevin were given 18 week custodial sentences, while Amanda was sentenced to 16 weeks.

The horses, which were kept tethered on the Fens Pool Nature Reserve in Pensnett between 2 November and 22 December 2011, were taken into the care of the RSPCA and other equine charities. All four survived.

“Horses being tethered at Fens Pool has been a huge problem for this area over the years,” said RSPCA equine inspector Jackie Hickman. “We are satisfied that some of those responsible have now admitted their guilt.”

She added that, while tethering is not illegal, the welfare problems that accompany the practice are “worrying”.