A DISGRACED stable owner has been spared prison after horses in her care were left starving and suffering.

Kate Greenhalgh from Pulborough had offered livery services at stables near Fernhurst in Sussex.

It included horses given to her by Team GB Olympic eventing rider Gemma Tattersall and from horse-lover Nikki Cochran.

The horse belonging to Ms Cochran, Kai, sadly died because he was in such a poor state of malnourishment.

One of the horses belonging to Ms Tattersall was lame because of an untreated infection in its leg.

Shocking images show the "emaciated" state of the animals, with bones such as their ribs and spines sticking out of their bodies.

The Argus: Shocking images of the starving horses kept in a state of suffering by Kate Greenhalgh in Sussex. Pictures by the RSPCAShocking images of the starving horses kept in a state of suffering by Kate Greenhalgh in Sussex. Pictures by the RSPCA

At Brighton Magistrates’ Court Greenhalgh admitted five counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

District Judge Amanda Kelly spared the 30-year-old equestrian an immediate prison spell over the shocking abuse.

Greenhalgh, who ran the KG Equestrian stables, was sentenced to a 12-week suspended sentence and was told to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.

The Argus: The horses were left starving in the care of Kate Greenhalgh in Sussex. Pics by the RSPCAThe horses were left starving in the care of Kate Greenhalgh in Sussex. Pics by the RSPCA

The owners had told Greenhalgh that if there were any problems with food or vets they could be contacted.

Ms Cochran visited her horses there regularly, but had to stop while her husband received medical treatment in intensive care.

Olympian Ms Tattersall said: “I had told her she could contact me if anything was wrong. Although my horses were valuable, whatever the value a horse should be fed.

“As horse owners, we are all aware that they can pick up injuries, but these should be dealt with.

The Argus: Olympic rider Gemma Tattersall had entrusted three horses to Kate Greenhalgh in SussexOlympic rider Gemma Tattersall had entrusted three horses to Kate Greenhalgh in Sussex

“When I saw the photos I was completely shocked. The horse’s condition looked so poor, I couldn’t believe they were still alive.

“I have simply never seen a horse in that state before.”

The court heard how Greenhalgh, herself an eventing rider with experience of horses, failed to take action to feed the four horses and to get effective vet treatment in good time between December 2019 and March 2020.

The public reported their concerns after seeing a horse collapsed in the field.

Inspector Becky Carter, RSPCA Inspector Kate Barnes, and World Horse Welfare’s Chief Field Officer Claire Gordon arrived to be told that the horse, known as Kai, had already been put to sleep and his body removed.

The Argus: The shocking pictures taken by the RSPCAThe shocking pictures taken by the RSPCA

Insp Carter said: “When we arrived we checked over the horses at the site and found two of them, Adelaide and a young colt, to be in very poor body condition.

“A third horse, Val, was totally emaciated. Adelaide and Val were also suffering from really severe mud fever and rain scald - they had a lot of hair loss and sores on their coats and legs.

“The young colt was so lame he couldn’t bear weight on one leg and could barely walk. He had a very elevated heart rate indicating he was in significant pain.

“The vet discovered he had an abscess in his foot which he predicted had been in this condition for over a week, as the infection had traveled up the horse’s leg and had to be drained of a large amount of pus.

“They certified all three horses to be suffering and the police agreed for us to remove them.”

The Argus: The horses were in a terrible state. Pics by the RSPCAThe horses were in a terrible state. Pics by the RSPCA

Ms Cochran previously told the court about the devastating impact of the death of Kai, who was a uniquely bred and cost her family £3,000.

She said: “I was proud to have bought a foal with such special breeding. So standing in that field, watching my dream horse die was almost too difficult for words. I have been severely traumatised by what I witnessed.”

Following the judgment Inspector Carter said: “This was such a sad case to investigate as the poor health of the horses could have been avoided with appropriate care, and by following vet advice.

“These horses were under the care of Greenhalgh, who is a competition rider, as part of a professional arrangement through her business KG Equestrian, where she would take on horses on livery for backing, competing and sales.

“It’s particularly sad for the horses’ owners as they were under the impression their animals were being looked after.

“Thankfully, Adelaide, Val and the young colt were returned to their owner and have made a good recovery.”

The Argus: Kate Greenhalgh was prosecuted. Pic from Facebook.Kate Greenhalgh was prosecuted. Pic from Facebook.

World Horse Welfare chief field officer Claire Gordon said: “I was pleased to support the RSPCA investigation and to see Ms Greenhalgh take responsibility in court by entering a guilty plea, acknowledging the failings in the care she provided these horses.

“She is an experienced equine professional who failed to recognise that she had taken on more than she could manage and rejected offers of help from those concerned around her ultimately resulting in the horses in her care suffering unnecessarily.

“These horses had owners they could have been returned to, if she had acknowledged that she was not coping but instead she chose to allow them to suffer.”

Greenhalgh, of Spinney North, Pulborough, was told to complete the unpaid work in the community alongside ten rehabilitation sessions with the probation service.

She was ordered to pay £750 court costs and a £128 surcharge. She must also pay a compensation order, understood to be to Ms Cochran, worth £3,650.