A HORSE owner who failed to put down her beloved thoroughbred mare on the advice of two vets has been banned from keeping equines for life.

Four more of 78-year-old Susan Johnson's horses were so wild they had to be put down for their own safety and the safety of their handlers, and she has had seven more removed from her care, York Magistrates Court heard.

Phil Brown, for the RSPCA, said the thoroughbred bay mare Lily was lame in all four legs, suffered from laminitis, a hoof condition that causes "excruciating pain", and was kept in a darkened stable with insufficient ventilation.

One vet decided the horse "was in a state where only euthanasia as an act of humane welfare was the proper treatment," he said.

A second vet decided the horse needed putting down immediately.

But Johnson repeatedly reneged on arrangements to have the act carried out until the police had to be called in to ensure the animal was put down.

For her, Amber Walker said: "She had bred Lily and had known her from a foal. She had a strong emotional attachment to Lilly. She feels she did her level best for her, but she accepts that she came up short and was found wanting."

Johnson, of West Lilling, north of York, pleaded guilty to failure to carry out veterinary advice to have a horse put down between July 30 and August 8 last year, and failure to care properly for Lily from March 29 to July 31.

Magistrates gave her a 12-month conditional discharge, banned her from keeping horses and related animals indefinitely and ordered all the seven surviving horses be handed over to World Horse Welfare charity. She had no previous convictions.

Mr Brown said the RSPCA decided to prosecute Johnson as a last resort to deal with the animal welfare concerns that the charity had about her care of animals.

Following a tip-off, the RSPCA with the World Horse Welfare visited her premises last July.

"It is clear she had a degree of physical frailness which raised concerns about her physical ability to handle these animals and look after these horses as they should be looked after".

She employed temporary grooms, one of whom left the job after one of Johnson's horses knocked her over, giving her concussion that needed hospital treatment.