A COUPLE have been banned from keeping horses after one of their animals was found collapsed on the ground, barely alive and covered with branches.

An RSPCA inspector who went to investigate concerns about the welfare of two horses, kept between Bishop Auckland and Spennymoor, found a bay gelding so poorly he was unable to get up off the ground and appeared to have been hidden under the branches.

The horse, named Brian, was in such a poor condition he had to be euthanised. 

The other, a stallion called Janton, was removed from the scene by police and has made a good recovery.

Owners Derek Wildish and Alison Hall, both of High Road, Middlestone, Bishop Auckland, have both since been convicted of allowing their two horses to fall into a state of neglect and causing unnecessary suffering to the animals. 

Hall pleaded guilty at a hearing in early November, and Wildish was found guilty after a trial which concluded on November 10 and they were sentenced at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court last week.

The court heard that the RSPCA was contacted in February 2019 by locals who had concerns for two horses.

An inspector visited the location where the horses were being kept on Low Road, Middlestone, between Bishop Auckland and Spennymoor, and found one horse collapsed, covered in branches, and a second in a poor body condition.

Wildish was found guilty of four charges under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and received 18 weeks imprisonment, suspended for two years.

The 49-year-old was also sentenced to complete 250 hours of unpaid work, and ordered to pay £700 costs and a £122 victim surcharge.

Hall pleaded guilty to four charges under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and received 14 weeks imprisonment which was suspended for two years.

The 52-year-old was also ordered to take part in 25 rehabilitation days, and pay costs of £140 and a £122 victim surcharge.

Both defendants were disqualified from keeping horses for seven years.

Following the court case a spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “When our officer arrived that evening he found one horse, Brian, collapsed on the ground, covered in branches and a horse rug as though someone had tried to hide him.

"Shockingly, Brian was still alive, trying to move his head but clearly unable to get up.

"There were clear markings on the ground where his hooves had been digging in as he had tried to get himself up, and he was clearly in poor body condition as his hips and ribs were visible.

“A vet was called immediately who arrived at the scene, and they made the sad decision to put Brian to sleep that evening to end his suffering.

“Among other horses on the field was a stallion called Janton, who was also found to be in poor body condition.

"Thankfully, Janton has thrived in our care after police removed him, and is now in a loving home where he is a cherished part of the family.”