A WOMAN accused of animal cruelty has blamed hot weather and an unknown illness for the condition of horses in her care.

Annette Nally, aged 50, is being prosecuted by the RSPCA on three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to animals and one count of failing to ensure the welfare of animals in her care.

At Redditch Magistrates Court Miss Nally, from Pryor Road, Oldbury, has denied the charges and is standing trial.

The charges relate to horses kept by Miss Nally at a yard in Stoke Prior, Bromsgrove which the prosecution allege were left without food and water between June 16 and July 14 last year.

The trial has been told eight horses were found locked in a barn, one of which was already dead and some others were so ill the had to be put down.

Other charges relate to a separate yard, also run by Miss Nally in Lapworth, Solihull.

However Miss Nally, who had been regarded as trusted to look after horses in RSPCA care says the animals were properly cared for.

During cross examination she told how a foal in her care had become ill and its diarrhoea was an unusual yellow colour, while another animal which had been put to sleep also discharged a similar substance.

Miss Nally told the court: “There was something inside these horses we didn’t know about, the vet was shocked by the colour and consistency.”

She added the animals had come from a site in Liverpool which, she had been told, had been a dumping ground for industrial batteries.

Under cross examination from prosecutor Hazel Stevens, Miss Nally was told the post mortem on one of the animals had shown no poisons and the animal had died of starvation.

Miss Nally also gave evidence that she had spent £6,528 on feed for the "approximatly 32" horses in her care during the first six months of 2018.

She added the unusually hot summer meant good quality grass was not growing and farmers were keeping animal feed for their own stock.

She said: "As soon as they came off dairy pasture there wasn't grass growing, they wern't doing very well."

The court heard when the RSPCA raided the Stoke Prior yard on July 14 last year, Miss Nally was in Devon in her lorry collecting another horse for a business partner.

She told the court the mains water supply was regularly turned off at the yard because a joint in pipework in the barn repeatedly burst causing flooded.

She said: “We fixed it but it happened again, I kept forgetting to switch it back on.”

Miss Nally also told how she had broken three ribs in an accident prior to the raid in July and was struggling to cope.

She said: "I was at the end of my tether at that point, I had made it clear over and over again.”

She claimed she had seen the horses at Stoke Prior on the morning of July 14 and believed they were well.

After learning about the raid on later that day, Miss Nally said she did not go straight to the Stoke Prior yard because she “did not understand the extent of it, I was sure everything would be ok".

Mrs Stevens said: “The animals were locked in a barn to stop people seeing them, what would have happened if there had been a fire? Why was there a dead animal in there?”

Miss Nally answered: "Because it died.”

The trial continues.