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Emaciated horses recovering well as owners banned for 10 years

Two emaciated horses rescued from a flooded field, one 100kg underweight and found eating a fence post, have made “great recoveries” – as the owners are banned from keeping equines.

Nybella Stephens, 25, and Gemma Stevens, 36, both formerly of The Millers, Yapton, were sentenced at Brighton Magistrates’ Court in their absence on 27 November. The case was proved in their absence after they also failed to attend an earlier hearing on 18 September.

The court heard RSPCA animal rescue officer Marie Stevens and inspector Cora Peeters attended a field in Shripney Lane, Bognor Regis, where the horses were being kept, in December 2019. They saw a 15-year-old chestnut gelding called Magic eating a wooden fence post as he had nothing to eat.

**Warning: upsetting image**

“Approximately 75% of the field was flooded and the remainder of the field was deep with mud. The hedges and trees had been stripped of their bark by the horses. I couldn’t see any form of ad-lib feeder or hay on the ground,” said Ms Peeters.

“Both Magic, belonging to Stevens, and Lexi, a bay mare belonging to Stephens, were extremely thin and their bony protrusions were clearly visible. A vet attended and confirmed both horses were suffering, to the extent that they were in an emaciated state.”

A spokesman for the RSPCA said Magic had an extremely good appetite and dragged his rescuers to grass as soon as he was removed from the field.

“He weighed 356kg, meaning he was at least 100kg underweight. Lexi weighed 384kg. A thoroughbred of a similar height would be expected to weigh 450-500kg,” he said.

Magic and Lexi were seized by police and removed to a private boarding facility to begin their recovery. When they were weighed again three weeks later, Lexi had gained more than 20kg and Magic 50kg.

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“Magic and Lexi, who have both made great recoveries, will be rehomed by World Horse Welfare,” said the spokesman.

Both defendants were found guilty of three offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006; failing to investigate or address the weight loss, failing to provide a suitable diet and failing to provide a suitable living environment.

The pair were banned from keeping equines for 10 years. They were each fined £600 and must pay £425 costs, and a £66 victim surcharge.

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