An elderly couple from West Yorkshire have been banned from keeping horses for a decade after a court ruled they had neglected 41 ponies.

George and Maureen Millington, aged 79 and 78, were found guilty of 3 charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and 4 charges of breaching a duty of care under the Animal Welfare Act. The 3-day trial took place at at Wakefield Magistrates’ Court last week (3-7 February).

The Millingtons kept Welsh ponies, Shetlands and cross-breeds on a strip of land near Ossett and described them as “family”. The RSPCA were tipped off by a member of the public in January 2012 and found the horses living in “horrifying conditions”. On a follow-up visit on 31 January, the ponies were seized and taken via a private boarding establishment into RSPCA care.

The ponies had ulcerated gums, overgrown hooves and teeth and were dangerously underweight. Vet Alexis Kent, said that if they were to continue to lose weight they would die. Although 40 ponies have made a full recovery, one was euthanased due to heart problems.

Several ponies had severely overgrown hooves

Several ponies had severely overgrown hooves

RSPCA inspector Carol Neale told H&H: “This was the largest number of horses I’ve dealt with, living in the most squalid conditions, in my 23 years as an RSPCA inspector. Some of those ponies I don’t think have ever been touched.”

22 out of the 30 stables had no water, and many were filthy. Mrs Millington told the court that the stables had not been mucked out for a few days prior to the RSPCA visit due to bad weather.

Ponies were stabled in filthy conditions

Ponies were stabled in filthy conditions

“The Millingtons had far too many horses to look after properly,” said Ms Neale. “Caring for 1 horse is a big job, let along 41. Unfortunately, their best efforts were nowhere near sufficient to meet these horses’ needs and some of them suffered as a result.”

Both Mr and Mrs Millington were banned from keeping horses for 10 years, with no option to appeal for 5 years. They were fined £600 and £450 respectively.

The Millingtons have until 28 February to appeal against the ban. If they do not appeal, the ponies will be eligible for rehoming.

Pictures courtesy of the RSPCA