Divorce can be a messy business at the best of times but following a recent ruling looks set to become yet even more complex.

A couple from Gloucestershire divorced after 11 years of marriage. They had no children. The ex-wife thought of her three horses as substitute children and aksed for financial assistance to keep and maintain them. She claimed that ‘Horses are my family. I see them every day. You form a very close bond with horses.’

Her husband had bought her a foal to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary in 2004. This was to add to the two horses she already bought with her own money to use for eventing.

The judge commented that ‘During the marriage the horses played a major part in the wife’s life with the consent and encouragement of the husband.’

The Court of Appeal approved the original award of £80,000 a year, including £50,000 for the horses as well as £900,000 for a house suitable for her and her horses. Lawyers are concerned that this case could set a precedent for future cases involving animals and had implications that went beyond keeping horses.