Equestrian author Lesley Skipper and her husband Brian Skipper have been found guilty of six charges of causing unnecessary suffering to, and failing to meet the needs of, four horses.
Mrs Skipper, aged 61, and 56-year-old Mr Skipper were convicted on 3 September, following a four-day trial at Darlington Magistrates Court.
They will be sentenced on 4 October.
Mrs Skipper is a prolific and popular equestrian author whose books include Understanding Horse Behaviour, Inside your Horse’s Mind and Realise Your Horse’s True Potential.
She was writing her most recent book Understanding the Arabian Horse – which was published last year – at the time the RSPCA says the neglect took place, between 14 May and14 June 2011.
An RSPCA inspector who visited their yard said the horses’ heads were almost touching the roofs of the stables where they were living due to the amount of soiled bedding that had been allowed to pile up.
The Skippers were found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a part-bred Arab mare and an Arab stallion by failing to seek veterinary attention for chronic laminitis and causing unnecessary suffering to a part-bred Arab stallion by failing to seek veterinary or farriery attention for overgrown hooves.
They were also convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a mare by failing to seek veterinary care for dental problems, of failing to meet the needs of all four horses by not providing them with a suitable environment and failing to protect them from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
RSPCA inspector Garry Palmer visited the stables in Darlington where the Skippers kept their horses on 14 June 2011 after a tip-off from the British Horse Society.
Mr Palmer said: “When I turned up on the day I thought offences had been committed as did the vet and our independent prosecutionsdepartment. The court has heard the case and the magistrates have agreed.”
The Arab stallion “Novalis” had to be put to sleep by the Skippers’ own vet at the scene.
The two mares were signed over to the RSPCA, but later put to sleep. The part-bred Arab stallion, which was not signed over by the couple, is currently in RSPCA care and has received six months of remedial farriery.
H&H contacted Mrs Skipper but she did not wish to comment on the case.
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (13 September 2012)