A WOMAN who left one of her 70 horses with an open leg wound so severe that the animal’s bone was visible has been banned from keeping horses for two years.

A WOMAN who left one of her 70 horses with an open leg wound so severe that the animal’s bone was visible has been banned from keeping horses for two years.

The horse had to be put down by the RSPCA after owner Dawn Thornton failed to seek veterinary help in time.

Magistrates in Huntingdon heard on Thursday (September 29) that Thornton, 45, kept up to 70 horses in fields in villages surrounding her home in Northgate, Whittlesey – including the Warboys site where RSPCA inspectors found four horses “in poor bodily condition” on June 10.

Responding to a tip-off, inspector found the horses in a small paddock at Station Yard, Puddock Road, which had a “strong” smell of urine, said prosecutor Paul Andrews.

Inspectors found one horse, a gelding named Reggie, with a bandaged left hind leg.

When they removed the bandage, which was saturated in bloody fluid, they found a wound “and the bone was clearly visible through it,” added Mr Andrews.

The wound showed signs of being more than 48 hours old, with inspectors noting “a raging infection” and foul odour, and the horse’s reluctance to walk.

Thornton signed over Reggie to the RSPCA but, after further inspection, vets decided to put down the horse on welfare grounds.

Thornton was ordered to have the three other horses treated, which she complied with.

In interviews with the RSPCA several days later, Thornton said that Reggie had been bitten by another horse and had reacted angrily, cutting his leg. She treated the wound herself and had made an appointment for the vet to attend on June 14 – four days after the RSPCA intervened.

At a hearing on September 6, she pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and the case was adjourned for reports.

Simon Milburn, mitigating, said Thornton had been left distressed by Reggie’s death, which had been a “one-off” in a lifetime of keeping horses.

He explained that Thornton, who is on benefits, offered sanctuary to neglected, elderly and abandoned horses, keeping them in pastures which had been “rented, begged or borrowed” from farmers.

Since the incident, ownership of the horses had passed to her partner.

Mr Milburn added: “It’s clear she didn’t fully appreciate the extent of the injury and the likely effect it was going to have in the long run.”

Thornton was banned from dealing with horses for two years, given a 12-month community order to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £1,100 towards the RSPCA’s £4,400 costs.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “The sentence reflects the seriousness of the offence. This case also highlights the importance of the pet owner’s responsibility to always seek veterinary help at the earliest opportunity.”