AN experienced horse rider from Stogursey has been banned from keeping horses after neglecting one of her animals.

Claire Nurton, 35, from St Audries Close, Stogursey, Bridgwater appeared before magistrates in Taunton on Tuesday in a prosecution case brought by the RSPCA.

She was found guilty of an offence under the Animal Welfare Act in relation to a horse named Flight who was had been left in the care of Mrs Nurton by his owner who was suffering from ill health at the time.

RSPCA inspector Marie Griffiths, who investigated, said: “To let this poor horse get into such a shocking state was inexcusable. It was heartbreaking to see a horse who was so thin and clearly suffering.

“We were contacted by a member of the public who had seen Flight while out walking their dog and are grateful to them for voicing their concerns.

“When I arrived on Christmas Eve I could see he was in a terrible state with all his bones showing and his legs and rear end covered in diarrhoea."

Mrs Griffiths said the issues should have been easily treatable, but instead of being given the care he needed Flight was 'cruelly neglected and left to suffer'.

“Claire Nurton was an experienced equestrian and would have been aware he was suffering but continued to deny any wrongdoing. She claimed she had seen Flight the day before my visit and said he was fine and running around the field at the time. Sadly this wasn’t the case as a vet confirmed that he suffered from prolonged neglect over a number of weeks.

“This case is a reminder that caring for horses is a huge responsibility and highlights the importance of ensuring their welfare and seeking veterinary care when it is urgently needed.”

Nurton was sentenced to an 18 week jail term, suspended for one year; 100 hours of unpaid work; and was ordered to pay a total of £450 in court costs. She was also disqualified from keeping horses for three years.

The two-year-old horse was initially taken to a equine hospital but sadly his health deteriorated and he had to be put to sleep by the vet.

The RSPCA is desperately looking for new homes for the horses it rescues. If you think you could adopt or foster a horse, contact to find out more.