A WOMAN has been banned from keeping horses for ten years, has had four animals confiscated and been handed fines and court costs of £546 after her animals were caught straying on to country roads around York.

Connie Smith, 55, appeared at York Magistrate’s Court and pleaded guilty to a single animal welfare charge relating to seven horses.

The court heard Smith, now living at Carr Lane, Sutton on the Forest, had inherited the animals from other family members after court action against them earlier this year.

In June, a City of York Traveller Liaison Officer and RSCPA inspectors found the seven horses - including some under two years old and some pregnant mares - tethered alongside narrow roads around Thornton-le-Clay.

RSCPA solicitor Philip Browne told magistrates that although the animals appeared to be in good or reasonable body condition, vets found some had skin damage caused by sunburn, and some had liver damage which could be attributed to ragwort - a weed poisonous to horses. The animals had been tethered on verges heavy with weeds, he added.

Mr Browne also said some of the animals had no access to water, none could shelter from the sun, some could walk into the narrow roads and endanger passing cars, and one had been tied up with a nylon head collar for so long it had left an indentation in the horse’s skin.

For Smith, solicitor Meghan Waldron said her client accepted responsibility for the animals and had taken her first court appearance on animal welfare charges very heavily.

The horses had only been tethered in Thornton-le-Clay on a temporary basis on the way to fields with better grazing, Miss Waldron added.

Magistrates handed Smith a £260 fine and a demand for £260 in court costs, as well as a £26 surcharge.

Meanwhile, the City of York Council has said an operation to clamp down on horses being grazed on its grass verges has been a success.

A new policy of using a licensed contractor to remove illegally grazing horses began in February, and since then five horses have been seized and monthly inspections now find just two to three horses on council land.

In addition to the 87 percent reduction in illegal grazing on council land, officials said they have received fewer complaints from private landowners about fly grazing on their land.