A woman who left a dead horse “rotting” in a stable with another horse has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Claire Louise Hopkins, of Tukes Avenue, Gosport, Hampshire, has also been banned from keeping horses for three years.
The 44-year-old pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering and failing to meet the needs of three horses in her care, at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on 2 November.
The court heard the horses were left in stables and unattended for at least two weeks, from 19 April to 2 May this year.
During this time one of the horses, Phoebe, died. Her stablemate Fred was left with her body.
A third horse, Molly, who was found to be in foal, was so emaciated she was close to death (pictured, top).
“In my 15 years as an RSPCA inspector this was the worst case I have ever seen. It was horrendous,” said inspector Jenny Ride.
“To see a deceased horse basically rotting away and another horse, Molly, not long from death must have been mental, as well as physical torture, as horses are highly intelligent.
“In summing up it was clear the judge understood the severity of the suffering endured by these three horses.
“She stated that this case involved the ‘dreadful treatment of the three animals’ which involved a ‘period of starvation that was inexcusable’.”
Fred, Molly and Molly’s foal, who was named Bluebell and born in RSPCA care, have been found a new home together.
Hopkins was given an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and a 20-day rehabilitation activity to be undertaken within 12 months. She was fined £300 and ordered to repay vet costs of £274.80, at £10 a week.
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Ms Ride urged horse owners to seek help if they are struggling to cope.
“We need to get the message out that owning a horse is a huge commitment,” she said. “If you are not coping or need help to rehome your horse, please get help. It is unacceptable to allow animals to suffer in this way.”