A family watched in horror as a horse was tied to a 4x4 and dragged round a field in Hunsworth a court heard this week.
Kirklees Magistrates Court was told that two travellers had fastened a rope around the young colt’s neck and chased it to try and tire it out as they wanted to worm it.
But they used the wrong knot and as it ran round, the rope tightened and it was strangled.
The court also heard that it was common practice among travellers to use a lasso and chase horses to break them in to be ridden.
Christopher Lee Hall and Cyril Hooton, from the Middleton area of Leeds, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the horse.
The court heard Hall, 42, bought the 18-month-old dark bay cob-type colt from Hooton, 75, some time ago.
They visited the fields off Maizebrook Avenue and Kilroyd Drive in Hunsworth to worm the animal last August.
Andrew Davidson, prosecuting, said a family saw them chase the horse around the field in a white 4x4 Mitsubishi.
He said: “The horse looking very scared and the wife was deeply upset by what she had seen.”
When the horse had tired, Hall tied a rope to the head collar of the animal, but it snapped after it began to panic.
A second rope was tied around the horse’s neck, which was attached to the back of the 4x4.
Mr Davidson said: “The vehicle was driven forward and when horse didn’t move, Hall reversed and the rope tightened around the horse’s neck.
“They were driving around the field for some time. The witnesses said the horse was becoming more tired.
“It was reckless and the consequences for the horse could not have be more severe.”
The family called police after finding the horse “appearing lifeless” on the ground.
A post mortem examination by RSPCA vet Sally Strachan revealed the animal died of strangulation.
Mr Davidson said: “Although it started as some form of training, the equipment caused the horse to suffer unnecessarily. They should have known rope was causing harm. It was an act of cruelty.”
Hooton and Hall were arrested the following day and interviewed at Dewsbury police station.
Hall told police the horse was in “an alright condition” when they left.
But Mr Davidson said: “The horse was not in the condition they said when they left it.
“It caused the witnesses a significant amount of upset and distress.”
Phillip Goldberg, mitigating, said Hall went to break in the animal and asked Hooton, who had taken care of horses all his life, for advice.
He said the pair chased the horse because it was very lively and difficult to handle.
Mr Goldberg said: “One mistake that Hall made was the knot tied on the rope around the neck. It caused the rope to tighten around the neck of the horse as it got more agitated.”
Mr Goldberg said it was a common procedure in the travelling community to use a lasso and chase horses to tire them.
He said: “There was no deliberate mistreatment. It was an accident and a tragic accident at that.”
Sentencing was adjourned until March 4 at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court and Hall and Hooton were granted unconditional bail.