Lancashire couple who trapped ponies in stables full of rotting faeces banned from owning animals

This is the moment an RSPCA inspector and police officers found the neglected ponies.

An elderly couple who "imprisoned" several severely neglected ponies in "deplorable conditions" have been banned from keeping animals for life.

The ponies - aged around six and seven years old - were unable to stand up naturally due to the level of faecal build up in the cramped conditions they were living in.

The RSPCA believe the animals had never left their filthy stables for their whole life.

Three other ponies were found in poor health at stable nearby.

The ponies hooves were corkscrewed and hadn't been trimmed in years. Credit: RSPCA

Inspector Vicki McDonald, who investigated the case, said “the extreme level of neglect found will remain with me” and said she had not seen anything like it in her entire career.

The vet advised that, due to their condition, four of the ponies would have to be put to sleep to end their suffering.

The defendants Jack Carter, 75, and wife Barbara, 72, both of Bank Bridge, Tarleton, Lancashire, have bred, showed and kept horses for the past six decades.

Three other ponies were found in cramped conditions, covered in their own faeces. Credit: RSPCA

They both pleaded guilty to three animal welfare offences when they appeared before Lancashire Magistrates on Thursday 20 January in a prosecution brought by the RSPCA.

The court heard how a member of the public raised the alarm about the well-being of their animals.

The RSPCA made several attempts to contact the couple, with Jack Carter claiming he was unable to show them around the property for various reasons.

The ponies were found living in deep and rotting piles of their own muck. Credit: RSPCA

After viewing the "horrifying" situation from a public footpath, the inspector arranged a formal visit with Lancashire police.

Mr Carter denied there were any ponies on site but, when the police and inspector asked to look in the stable, he reluctantly agreed.

Inspector Vicki McDonald said: “To say the physical and environmental conditions of these ponies was shocking is a gross understatement.

Each pony had overgrown hooves and were unable to walk properly. Credit: RSPCA

“Inside the first stable I found a grey pony in horrendous environmental and physical condition. I had never seen anything like it in my entire career.

"The pony was stood on top of deep rotting litter that had built up so much that it reached the top of the stable door.

"The pony was unable to fully stand up and its back protruded through a hole in the stable roof. 

Their fur was matted with faeces. Credit: RSPCA

"The two grey ponies’ behaviour was particularly disturbing.

"They seemed very stressed and erratic. I noticed that all the ponies had matting to their coats.

"They also had patches of sore skin, most likely from having no option but to lie in their own filth. 

"As with the first pony I had found, these were also stood on deep rotting litter piled as high as the stable doors inside and also in front of the doors preventing any possibility of the stable doors opening.

This grey pony was unable to stand up naturally because of faeces. Credit: RSPCA

"They all had horrendously overgrown hooves that had started to corkscrew. There was very little room for them to move around or even stand normally. Again their backs reached the stable roofs.

"It was obvious that none of these ponies had been out of their stables or been seen by a farrier for a very considerable amount of time, if at all.

"It was my opinion that based on what I had seen it was highly possible that these ponies had been in these stables all their lives.”

Credit: RSPCA

Mr Carter told the RSPCA, who had previously offered help to the couple, they had two more ponies at another premise.

But a total of five belonging to the couple were found at the second property.

They had access to food and water but they were in a neglected state and had a range of health issues.

As well as the life ban on keeping all animals both defendants were imprisoned for 12 weeks suspended for two years and were both ordered to pay £500 costs.

The presiding magistrate said the case was “extremely distressing” and added: "The only reason the sentence was suspended is to take into account the defendant’s medical needs and age. If it was not for these factors you would be going straight to prison."