A Methwold man who shut two ponies in a dark, isolated barn for 18 months has been given a suspended jail sentence and banned from keeping animals for life.
Animal welfare charity officials say the case of Frederick Stannard shows people should not own horses without having the time, knowledge and experience to look after them.
However, the pair, a mare and her foal, are now recovering from their ordeal, having been rescued after they were discovered by a passing dog walker.
Stannard, 64, of High Street, Methwold, pleaded guilty to four animal welfare offences when he appeared before magistrates in Norwich on Wednesday.
He was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for two years on each count, to run concurrently, and barred from keeping animals for life.
He was also ordered to pay £150 costs anda £115 victim surcharge.
The case centred around two ponies, called Bella and Charlie, who were rescued last September.
Bella had given birth to Charlie a month after she was first put in the barn. It is believed Charlie had never been out of the barn until his rescue. They were found with lice, other parasites and overgrown hooves.
RSPCA inspector Chris Nice, who investigated the case, said they had only been made aware of the ponies, called Bella and Charlie, after a dog walker accidentally strayed from the path and found the barn they were being kept in, which was in a 20 acre field.
They were only rescued after police obtained a warrant to enter the premises.
Mr Rice said Stannard had signed over the ponies to the RSPCA, telling them he knew they weren’t well, but couldn’t afford to have them seen by a vet.
He added: “It seems his lack of knowledge of horses led him to becoming overwhelmed at taking care of them.
“In reality, horses are hard work to look after, not to mention expensive, and this case really shows that if you don’t have the time, knowledge or experience, you shouldn’t own a horse.”
Since their rescue, Bella and Charlie have been cared for by the Redwings Horse Sanctuary.
Redwings welfare veterinary surgeon Nicola Berryman said: “I am very pleased with their progress, especially considering the terrible state they arrived in.”
Julie Harding, the charity’s senior field officer, said the case had been a particularly upsetting one.
She added: “I cannot understand why someone would treat their horses this way.”