A Carmarthenshire horse owner has been handed a suspended prison sentence after his four ponies were found with overgrown and curling hooves.

Thomas Martin King of Waungoch, Upper Tumble, appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court for sentencing on Thursday, December 5.

He had pleaded guilty to two offences under the Animal Welfare Act in that he caused unnecessary suffering to a piebald female Shetland pony by failing to explore and address overgrown hooves resulting in her lameness and that he also did not ensure that three other ponies were protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease as shown by their overgrown hooves.

Magistrates imposed a 12-week prison suspended for 12 months and ordered the defendant to pay £400 costs and a victim surcharge of £122.

Following the case, RSPCA inspector, Nic De Celis said when he saw the ponies at Beudy Bach in Upper Tumble at the end of July, he found their hooves were “extremely overgrown and curling.”

He said: “As I approached the group of ponies they began to move away, three of them were nodding and moving abnormally and then began high stepping as they picked up speed.

“However the fourth pony, a piebald, appeared to be in some distress and was unable to walk properly and could not keep up with the others. The pony’s front hooves had overgrown forward, were curled up and back on themselves and were rubbing the front of the pony’s front legs when she walked, causing them to bleed.”

The owner - King - was in attendance and had requested for a vet and farrier to be present who arrived at the location, with King keen for the ponies to be treated straight away.

“Once the ponies feet had all been trimmed and filed I advised the owner that he must ensure any follow up treatment advised by his vet is administered and if there are issues he should contact his vet immediately,” said inspector De Celis.

Two days later inspector De Celis attended the location with a vet. One of the ponies appeared sore when walking and the owner was advised to liaise with his vet to provide some form of on going pain relief.

In mitigation the court heard that the horses have been well treated since intervention and King had been remorseful.

Inspector De Celis added: “It is just so importance to ensure that hooves are cared for - a simple phone call to a farrier much earlier could have stopped these ponies from any pain or discomfort.”