A ‘HORSE lover’ has been found guilty of 52 counts of animal cruelty.

Philip Davies, 65, of Plantation Road, Edgworth, also pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to protect the horses from pain, injury, suffering, and disease, and two counts of failing to provide a suitable environment, during the two-day trial.

The charges, brought by the RSPCA, relate to 17 horses kept on land in Edgworth.

Hyndburn magistrates heard the animals had lice, mite, and worm infest-ations, foot rot, and liver damage caused by eating poisonous ragwort weeds.

Davies had denied the 52 counts of causing unnecessary suffering between October and December last year.

Summing up, district judge Peter Ward said: “Adequate steps should be taken to reduce infestation, but these steps were not taken.

“Davies had too many horses and he could not adequately deal with them.

“The inadequate control and the level of the infestation was so much that it caused suffering.

“Mr Davies was not able to keep on top of the number of horses, and the condition in which they should be kept.

“The fact that 10 of the horses had liver damage allows me to come to the conclusion that it was ragwort poisoning.

“Therefore all these matters are proven.”

While giving evidence during yest-erday’s hearing, Davies told the court he had owned horses for 54 years – since the age of 11.

He acquired his eldest horse, Daisy, in 2006, and has since bred horses for a hobby.

Davies admitted that he did not have a programme to tackle, treat, or prevent lice, mites, or worms.

He also claimed that he fed the horses an excessive number of carrots as a way of “flushing” the worms out of their system, as opposed to traditional medication.

He claims he cleaned the horses’ feet “around twice a week”, but could not provide specific dates to the court.

During an inspection of 15 of the horses which were seized, equine vet Simon Constable found 56 out of 60 feet had bacterial infections causing the horses pain.

John Gilliver, veterinary expert, speaking on behalf of the defence, said that three of the 16 horses inspected by him were in a poor body condition, but said the others were adequate.

He said there was evidence that the horses had lice and mites, and faecal samples showed a high level of worms in most of the horses.

Speaking after the case, Chief Insp-ector Cathy Hyde, of the RSPCA, said: “I am very pleased with the judgement.”

Davies is due to be sentenced today at Blackburn Magistrates’ Court.