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Horses were left "because pair had flu"
AN equine author charged with the neglect of four horses told a court she and her husband could not look after them properly, as they had flu.
Lesley Skipper, 61, was giving evidence on the second day of the trial of her and husband, Brian, 56.
The couple, of Durham Road, Stockton, each deny four charges of causing unnecessary suffering to the horses by failing to seek veterinary care, and two charges of failing to ensure the welfare of the animals, which they kept at stables in Sadberge Lane, Middleton St George, near Darlington.
Three of the four animals taken into RSPCA care were put down after suffering from severe dental and hoof problems.
Mrs Skipper, who has written a number of books on equine care and behaviour, told Darlington Magistrates’ Court she became so distressed she fainted when the RSPCA visited the stables on June 14 last year. A vet euthanised one of the animals on site before removing the others.
Vet Nicola Mason, who also attended the Sadberge Lane site, said the dirty bedding in the stables, which was about 1ft 6in high, had not been removed for months.
She said: “The bedding was so high. These horses were at risk of coming over the top of the stable doors.”
When asked by Kevin Campbell, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, why the bedding was allowed to get so high, Mrs Skipper said she and her husband could not muck the stables out as they had flu.
She told the court: “We kept the deep litter bedding system because we both had flu. It would have been physically impossible to dig the stables out by hand. We would have to get a digger in to do it.”
She added her husband, who suffers from bi-polar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, had been kicked in the chest the month before the RSPCA attended the stables, which made any physical work very difficult.
Farrier Lee Hardy said the horses’ hooves were in a bad condition on June 16, and that it was obvious they had not been clipped for months. He said of one of the hooves: “It’s the worst case of bone degeneration I have ever seen.”
The trial continues.