A field in Devon close to the A38 has been the scene of a vicious attack on a pony, most likely by a big cat, experts have revealed.

The episode took place in broad daylight last Tuesday between 5 and 6pm, and left Mischief, a 14.2hh palomino, scarred for life and in deep shock.

This is not the first time the inquisitive pony has fallen prey to a likely cat attack in under a year. He was attacked almost exactly this time last year, although the evidence on that occasion was not as conclusive as to what or whom was the guilty party.

Veterinary surgeon Peter Grills who attended the incident, said that he was confident that the culprit was one, or possibly more, big cats: “The wounds were irregular in appearance and depth and there were a large number,” he said.

“A large cat is most likely the cause. When I treated [Mischief], he was very shocked. He was standing still and didn’t care what anybody did to him.”

Following last year’s attack, Mischief’s owner Liz Lavers joined the British Big Cat Society and this time she informed its founder Danny Bamping and Scientific Officer Chris Moiser, who went to look at the pony.

“We are confident the attack was carried out by a big cat,” Danny told HHO. “Not least because the same thing happened to the same horse in the same field last year, and that fits with the fact that cats tend to keep to the same tracks while out hunting, so there is probably a track an animal uses nearby to that field.

“From the cat’s perspective, it is probably accustomed to killing deer and sheep regularly, so a pony isn’t much more of a challenge. “

However, Danny thinks this particular predator got more than it bargained for with Mischief: “We think that the pony probably started kicking out at its attacker, and possibly damaged himself in the process, which would put any big cat off,” he explains.

Liz has now relocated Mischief for fear that he may not be so lucky should the cat strike again.

Devon has a reputation for being home to many different species of wild cats, which began in 1983 with the beast of Exmoor.

Big cats can in fact be found all over the country; last year Scotland was voted the best place to go looking for the elusive creatures.

Also, in Northern Ireland in the Port Rush area, a puma has been causing havoc, attacking livestock and killing a foal. Locals have been informed, and asked to be vigilant.