A MAN who kept five ponies shut in dark, dirty shipping containers has been banned from keeping horses for life.

Two miniature Shetlands, two cobs and a foal were confined for up to 22 hours a day with no fresh air and little food at the farm in Flagg, Derbyshire.

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Anthony Melland, aged 46, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering at a hearing at Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court last week.

He was also given a six-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £400 costs.

His mother, Janet Melland, also pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the needs of three dogs at the farm were met. She was sentenced to a 16-week curfew, ordered to pay £400 costs and also disqualified from keeping horses for life.

The five ponies were seized in February in a joint operation between World Horse Welfare and the RSPCA and taken to World Horse Welfare’s Penny Farm rescue and rehoming centre.

Case officers said the two Shetlands, Robin and Allana (pictured, below), were discovered in a humid and stinking plastic container that once formed the body of a van. Two other ponies, Vienna and Kiara, and a foal, Victor, were being kept in a metal shipping container with no windows or ventilation.

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“Shipping containers are not somewhere that any animal should ever be housed, even on a temporary basis and the terrible conditions these ponies were forced to endure were completely unacceptable,” said World Horse Welfare field officer Rachel Andrews.

“The containers were dark and damp with no clean bedding and nowhere dry for the ponies to lie down. There was some food available but it was mouldy.”

Robin had a poor body condition, while the foal had conformation problems which had not been addressed and an untreated wound.

RSPCA inspector Heather Morris said three dogs were found in similar conditions.

“A Jack Russell, a poodle-type and a border terrier [were] living in an outhouse, covered in faeces and with no clean water,” she said.

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Allana has found a new home through World Horse Welfare’s rehoming scheme, while Victor, Vienna and Kiara are still with the charity undergoing rehabilitation.

Robin had to be put down after a few weeks at Penny Farm as he failed to respond to treatment for dental problems and a sinus infection.

The three dogs — Spot, Mini and Ruby — have been rehomed by the RSPCA.