A COURT witness has described the condition of allegedly mistreated ponies as "less than zero".
When Nadine Anthony arrived at the Rosevale property of defendant Carmel Cassells in 2011 she said the scene was "horrific".
"I was horrified, absolutely appalled by the condition of the horses," she told the Launceston Magistrates Court yesterday.
Ms Cassells has pleaded not guilty to 31 counts of animal cruelty.
RSPCA officer Erica McCarthy told the court she had responded to an animal welfare complaint against Ms Cassells in August 2011.
When she went to the property she saw 30 to 40 mares, stallions, colts, fillies, geldings and foals roaming together in a paddock.
She said about nine of the mares appeared heavily pregnant yet were still suckling foals from the previous year.
She said this was bad practice because it drained the mares of nutrients they needed for their unborn.
Many of the animals were underweight and in poor body condition, she said.
The court heard one pony had a badly injured eye that was oozing fluid and had not received treatment.
Ms Cassells was told to provide better care for the ponies but their condition did not improve, Ms McCarthy said.
Defence counsel Fred Lester asked her if overweight ponies were at risk of the equine disease laminitis.
"Not necessarily ... it increases their risk, yes," she said.
In a video interview played to the court Ms Cassells said a tube of worming paste she'd ordered from Roberts was out of date and unusable.
She said she felt "ashamed" but the ordeal had made her a "stronger person" , although she was "disappointed" by the RSPCA's lack of feedback.
Ms Anthony, a former horse welfare volunteer, said she spent about $4000 of her own money caring for the defendant's ponies after Ms Cassells called her for help.
Magistrate Robert Pearce adjourned the hearing to Friday.