Event rider and horse breeder Paul Tapner is warning other owners to be extra vigilant after one of his pregnant mares was knifed in what he believes is a sexually motivated attack.

Peanuts, a 19-year-old Irish sports horse (pictured) who evented to intermediate level under the name Glenwherry, was slashed with a sharp blade near her stomach and behind her back legs at Coleshill near Farringdon in Oxfordshire.

The attack took place between 6pm last Thursday (5 March) and 8am the next morning.

Both she and her unborn foal — which is due in May — survived the attack. Another mare that was in the field at the same time was not touched.

Australian eventer Paul said: “The police think it could be someone out for revenge, but none of us can think of anyone we’ve upset.

“In a way we would prefer to think it was someone with a grudge because then it would be over and done with.

“Unfortunately, I think it was more a case of some getting their aggression or sexual kicks out doing something like this to a horse — given where the injuries are — so more horses and people are at risk, I think.”

Peanuts, who was evented by Paul’s wife, Georgina, before being retired as a broodmare, is now being treated with painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, as her wounds were too swollen to allow stitching.

Paul said: “We have 500 acres so cannot have CCTV cameras everywhere but we will be reassessing where we keep our mares.

“We have 80 horses on the property and a tight security scheme in the yard with CCTV, alarms and guide dogs but this happened of the furthest extremity of our land.

“It is unlikely to happen here again because we can bring our mares into the secure area but obviously we live in a large horse area with a large number of horses around the countryside so I would urge other owners to be more cautious in checking their mares.”

He believes Peanuts was attacked because she was more used to being handled whereas the other was “more flighty” and likely to have run away.

He added: “The vet thinks it’s a deliberate act because it’s not an injury she’d have picked up in the field.

PC Louise Russell, of Thames Valley Police, said: “This is a nasty, callous act where a horse has been deliberately injured.

“Luckily the horse and the foal both survived the attack.

“I appeal to anyone who might have seen suspicious activity in the area to contact me and urge horse owners to be aware that this incident has happened and to take extra care of their horses at this time.”

Anyone with information which could help the police should contact PC Louise Russell at Wantage police station on 0845 8 505 505, or if you don’t want to talk to the police or give your name, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.