A young cob is recovering at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) after he was shot in the head with an arrow.

Widget, a 15-month-old colt, was discovered in his field at a livery yard in Abbots Langley, Herts, late on Saturday evening (18 June) with a bolt, thought to be shot from a longbow, protruding from his head behind his eye.

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His owner Hannah Dorsett, 28, from Belmond near Watford, said: “We think it happened some time between 6.30pm and 9pm on Saturday night.

“I was out at a family celebration and didn’t receive the message until 11pm. When I got to the yard, two vets from the RVC and the RSPCA were there.

“Widget had a huge arrow sticking out of his head behind his eye.”

Widget was taken to the RVC, where he was X-rayed.

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“The vets thought they would have to take the eye out, but they did an ultrasound scan and discovered that, incredibly luckily, the arrow hadn’t penetrated the eye and had missed all the important structures,” said Hannah. “It had lodged in his sinuses and was pressing on the eyeball from inside.”

Widget is due to remain at the RVC until early next week.

“There is still a chance that an abscess or infection could form, and the vets have said that he may suffer from cataracts or sinusitis in future,” Hannah said. “I’ve been to see him every day, and he is being thoroughly spoiled – he doesn’t seem fazed by it at all.

“It is horrific to think that this could happen. This isn’t an accident; it is a deliberate attempt to kill or maim him.”

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She said Herts Police has taken the arrow.

“I gather they have been given a few names of possible suspects,” she said. “I had no idea how easy it is to buy dangerous weapons like bows and arrows – my father noticed them on sale next to the pet section in a local store.”

Hannah says she has been overwhelmed by messages of support, and a fellow rider has set up a Gofundme page to help with the costs of Widget’s veterinary care.

“People have been very generous and the amount of support I have been given is amazing. But we are all terrified of turning our horses out in case something like this happens again.”

The owners of Hannah’s livery yard have said that they will no longer use the field in which Widget was grazing.


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Investigating officer DS Dan Stoddart from the Three Rivers Local Crime Unit said: “I am appealing to anyone who was in the area of the field around 7pm or before then and saw anyone acting suspiciously to please get in contact.

This appears to be senseless, cruel crime and we are doing all we can to find the person responsible. If you saw anyone acting suspiciously around the field yesterday we would like to hear from you as soon as possible.

“Please contact us via the police non-emergency number 101 with any information; alternatively call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”