SHOCKING images and video have been released after RSPCA inspectors discovered neglected ponies — including one with a wound ‘crawling with maggots’.

Richard James Riding, 51, of Whalley Road, Great Harwood, was sentenced at Blackburn Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

He pleaded guilty to three offences under the Animal Welfare Act and was given a suspended jail sentence and banned from keeping horses for life.

The animal welfare charity had been alerted by a member of the public who was concerned about the welfare of the Welsh ponies in a field across from the Gamecock pub on Whalley Road.

When the RSPCA attended Riding’s property on June 15, a 15-year-old grey stallion called Tiddles was found to be suffering to such a degree he had to be put to sleep immediately.

RSPCA inspector Lyndsey Taylor said: “Tiddles had a large open wound on his side which was crawling with maggots.

“His genitals were infected and he had sores in his mouth and nose and overgrown hooves.

“He really was in a shocking condition.”

Two grey mares, 10-year-old Cara and four-year-old Sapphire, also had overgrown hooves. They and another grey mare, four-year-old Sparkle, and her foal who had been born in January, were placed in the care of World Horse Welfare.

RSPCA inspector Taylor said: “Ridings told us that he used to show and breed the ponies as a hobby — having as many as 22 at one point — but gave up in 2010, though a couple were born unintentionally after that.

“Having sold all the others, he said he had arranged for these final five to be slaughtered in March but no date was ever set, just when the knackerman had time. He called again on the day we visited and was told there was a six week wait.

“He told us Tiddles had been kicked by another horse in October and it got a bit better but some swelling remained, then in May it burst and he treated it with Terramycin spray every other day for a fortnight. He said it seemed to dry up and he thought that was that until he looked at Tiddles with us.

“It would seem that he had lost any interest at all in these ponies, giving them hardly any more than a glance at over a gate to check on their welfare.

“You cannot adequately care for animals in this way and very sadly they suffered as a result.”

Riding was sentenced to 12 weeks jail suspended for 12 months and ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work. He was ordered to pay £100 in costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

In mitigation, the court heard that he regretted what had happened.

Cara and Sapphire were put to sleep as they had Cushings Disease, caused by a tumor or excess growth (hyperplasia) of the pituitary gland. Sparkle and her foal, who has been named Pearl, are doing well in the care of World Horse Welfare. Pearl is already up for rehoming and it is hoped Sparkle will be rehomed in due course.