A married couple, whose neglect of five stallions in their care led to two of the horses being destroyed on welfare grounds, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering at Cheltenham Magistrates Court yesterday.

Charles and Gillian Harwood of Four Shires Stone Farm, Moreton-in-Marsh, Glos allowed the horses’ hooves to become so overgrown that they resembled turkish slippers.

ILPH field officer Peter Griffiths found the horses in a state of distress when he made a routine call to the farm last year.

Peter says: “I was appalled at the state of the horses’ feet when I saw them. They were so long they were crippling the poor creatures.

“I returned later that afternoon with the RSPCA and a vet and after examination it was decided that two of the stallions, due to the condition of their feet, should be euthanased.

“These horses’ feet did not grow that long over night. All horses need regular visits from a farrier to keep their feet trimmed. It was blatantly obvious that these horses had not been seen by a farrier for many, many months. There really is no excuse for neglect on this scale.”

The couple received a three-year conditional discharge and were ordered to pay £1,464.25 costs, due to “exceptional mitigating circumstances”. They have not been prevented from keeping horses in the future.