A Levin woman has been sentenced to community work for allowing a horse to slowly starve to death.

Te Ara Smiler, 31, has pleaded guilty in the Levin District Court to ill treatment of an animal causing it to suffer unreasonable and unnecessary pain or distress.

She has been sentenced to 120 hours of community work and ordered to pay almost $500 in veterinarian costs, and disqualified from owning or exercising authority over horses for five years.

An SPCA inspector visited the woman's property in August last year, where they found one horse suffering from starvation and another who had recently been put down.

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SPCA New Zealand chief executive Ric Odom said the case was all too common.

"Domesticated animals like horses, dogs, and cats are completely dependent on us for their survival. Horses in particular are vulnerable to starvation when confined to poor quality grazing. Unable to escape, they face a lingering, painful death.

"There is no doubt that the defendant's failure to meet her core obligations to provide for the needs of her horses, and ensure treatment in times of injury or illness, resulted in the horses suffering unnecessary pain and distress".