What is believed to be the first prosecution over an obese horse in the UK took place this week, in Blackpool.

A married couple from Cleveleys in Lancashire were yesterday banned for keeping horses for five years by Blackpool Magistrates Court.

Keith and Lynn Hall of 228 Anchorsholme Lane East had pleaded guilty to cruelty charges relating to two Shetland ponies.

The prosecution was brought after World Horse Welfare and the RSPCA removed two Shetland ponies in their care on 4 November 2008.

12-year-old stallion Dale had been allowed to become grossly overweight, and April, a 21-year-old mare, had such overgrown hooves that she was lame and in terrible pain. While Dale has been rehabilitated by World Horse Welfare, April had to be euthanaised.

Keith and Lynn Hall appeared in Blackpool Magistrates Court on Monday 12 and Tuesday 13 October, where they pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to April and failing to meet the needs of Dale.

They were both banned from keeping horses for five years, ordered to pay costs of £500 each and given a curfew which forces the couple to remain resident in their home between the hours of 10pm and 6am.

World Horse Welfare has been running a campaign to combat obesity — called the Right Weight Campaign — for two years.

The charity’s field officer Chris Williamson said: “This is one of the first cases under the new Animal Welfare Act involving an obese horse and I am pleased that the serious welfare implications of allowing a horse to get into this condition were taken into account in the sentence.”

In court, the couple immediately indicated their intention to appeal their ban.