PONIES on a St Davids farm were left with overgrown hooves resembling ‘Aladdin’s slippers’ and unable to walk properly, a court has heard.

Ian Morgan Bert Griffiths, 54, of Berea, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to five ponies when he appeared before Haverfordwest magistrates today (Monday).

Jon Tarrant, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, told the court that Griffiths failed to provide adequate hoof care to three Shetland ponies and two welsh mountain ponies between December 3, 2016 and June 3, 2017.

The bench heard that two Shetlands were found lying in awkward positions when a RSPCA inspector visited Griffiths’ farm on June 3. It was immediately apparent that their hooves were overgrown and misshapen, causing pain and discomfort.

One stood with an arched back trying to shift its weight from its front to back legs when standing, in an effort to find some relief and was in ‘severe pain’, while another struggled to move.

Mr Tarrant said that a vet who examined the animals described their hooves as looking like ‘Aladdin’s slippers’.

“The two Shetlands were reluctant to move even a few steps. One went to lie down almost immediately.”

The court heard that strain would have been put on the animals’ ligaments and joints which could not be alleviated with pain killers, and Griffiths immediately surrendered them to the RSPCA.

Following treatment, three of the ponies were ready to be rehomed, but two were still experiencing difficulties.

A vet estimated that the hooves had not been trimmed in between six months and a year.

Mr Tarrant added: “It’s not suggested that this was deliberate ill treatment, but it appears the defendant was aware of the situation, he could see them from his home and did nothing about it. It must be diagnosed as prolonged neglect.”

Magistrates heard that Griffiths, who came from nine generations of Pembrokeshire farmers, was of clean character and ‘extremely remorseful’. This was the first time there had been any problems with his animals, which included 100 cattle, pigs, cats, dogs and two other ponies on his 250 acre farm.

David Williams, defending, told the court that the father-of-three’s wife died suddenly in 2010, leaving him to run the business and look after their children.

Mr Williams said: “He would not wish to see any animal suffer under any circumstances. This is overlaid with a deep sense of shame.”

The court heard that Griffiths’ camping business could accommodate up to 1,000 people on the farm, and employed 12 full-time and four part-time staff at peak season.

Mr Williams added: “By October 2016 his children had left and he found himself for the first time in an empty house, and found himself to be exhausted.

“He had driven himself into the floor. That he caused them (the ponies) pain and suffering is something he is deeply sorry for.”

A farrier had visited the farm in August 2016 and was due to return in a couple of months, but the arrangement had fallen through.

Magistrates sentenced Griffiths to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered him to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

He will also pay £415 in court costs and charges and was banned from keeping horses for five years, suspended for four weeks to allow him time to make arrangements for his remaining two horses.