Starved horses who were infested with parasites suffered ‘long neglect’ at the hands of their owner.

Charlene Rudgley failed to care for ponies Darcey and Biscuit on her field in Winchester.

Both equines were emaciated and suffering with wounds, lice infestations, and poor dental hygiene.

The alarm was raised following concerns about the welfare of the horses who were subject to ‘incompetent care’.

Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard how Rudgley was caring for seven equines in the summer of 2022.

Prosecuting, Vanessa Reid said Darcey was removed from the defendant’s farm on August 21 2022 following a visit from Hampshire Spirit Horse Rescue.

Daily Echo: Darcey at the farm in 2022Darcey at the farm in 2022 (Image: RSPCA)

She said: “Darcey was underweight, and a vet found she had wounds on the left-hand side of her ribs, a lice infestation, and sores.

“She suffered with an untreated parasite infection for two weeks, and endured starvation.”

Earlier that month, an officer from animal charity RSPCA paid a visit to the farm.

The officer noticed that Biscuit was in ‘poor body condition’ and had a lack of dental care.

Ms Reid added: “There was also a lack of endoparasite treatment, a lack of grazing space and suitable environment.”

READ MORE: Woman left dog to starve to death after moving in with her partner

After an investigation was launched, Rudgley surrendered all equines in her care to the RSPCA.

This was not an easy decision, but she accepts that she ‘lost the ball’, said Samuel March in mitigation.

He told the court: “This is a very sad case.

“It is sad for the horses who suffered, the defendant’s children who have lost their animal friends, and it’s sad for the defendant, who took on too much.

“She was previously trusted by rescue charities to care for horses.

“Ms Rudgely accepts she dropped the ball at a time when her own mental health began to deteriorate.

“She has not obtained more horses since she voluntary signed the seven over.”

Daily Echo: Darcey's muzzle in 2022Darcey's muzzle in 2022 (Image: RSPCA)

Rudgely, 39, initially pleaded not guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary harm to animals but changed this to guilty last November.

Passing sentence, Magistrate Mrs Fiona Chalkley said: “We are dealing with two charges and two animals who were caused suffering due to incompetent care.

“You will be subject to a community order for 12 months where you must carry out 75 hours of unpaid work.

“You are also disqualified from keeping any equines for 12 months.

“You must pay a £114 surcharge.”