A TRAVELLER says all three of his horses are well looked after following complaints from the public about them being left tethered in mud.

Shane Smith, aged 23, of Offerton Lane, Warndon Villages, Worcester, says he feeds the three horses every day and has spent £4,000 on the animals in vet's bills in the last month to keep them healthy and in top condition. Complaints were received from members of the public about the muddy state of the animals in Berkeley Way. One wrote: "I bet the horses are glad their owner is warm and dry somewhere." But their owner Mr Smith, who is backed by a local horse rescue charity in Malvern, said: "At this time of year you can expect them to be muddy. People keep on complaining but I've had vets out checking them. Honestly, it has cost me thousands looking after those horses. You can never keep them clean this time of year but in the summer they are lovely and clean. It is people who don't know about horses who complain." He said he lives just two minutes away from where they are tethered and moves them around regularly so they have fresh grass.

He said he bought them for his one-year-old daughter. He said the horses - two Irish Cobbs called Indy and Babs and a full-bred trotting mare called Penny were not a risk to public safety. He said: "My daughter can sit on their back and ride them up and down. They're harmless. If a one-year-old can sit on them they're not going to harm an adult."

Mr Smith was backed by Sue Penny of Penny Ha'Penny Horse and Pony Rescue who went out to visit the animals on Monday to check on them. She said: "Those horses are all fit enough. I personally don't like them to see them tethered. It's not ideal. But the owner is watering them, moving them and checking them. It is hard to keep them clean at this time of year. They are not abandoned. He checks them every day. I have seen him do it. People are getting upset but they are humanising these horses. They are being checked on more than some people who maybe see their horses twice a week and do not realise their needs." She also advised members of the public not to feed the horses as they were already fed. She said feeding them the wrong foods could harm the animals. She said: "It's not perfect but they're better off than a lot of horses. I don't feed other people's horses."