A South Oxfordshire horse owner is warning others to be on their guard after her horse had to be put down following what she believes was a bodged theft attempt.

Sonja van Dijk’s elderly horse was found lying at the bottom of a set of steps in what vets believe was a drug-induced state.

The severely shocked horse was put to sleep later when colic set in.

Miss van Dijk, of Toot Baldon, was contacted by a neighbour on Sunday morning (23 January), who said her daughter’s pony was loose.

On entering her yard she found her 26-year-old warmblood gelding Condios was also missing.

The pony — Timmy Two Shoes — was found unhurt nearby but Condios was nowhere to be seen.

He was found by at the bottom of steps in a garden half a mile away.

“He was completely bedraggled and his eyes were glazed,” said Miss van Dijk.

“The girl who found him thought he must have hit his head but there was no mark. My vet told me he was acting like he had been given an opiate.”

Miss van Dijk had owned Condios since he was five and had evented him in the past.

“He was still a very proud, good-looking horse so I wonder if he was taken and then when they realised he was not what they wanted just set loose,” she told H&H.

The thieves had removed part of the post and rail fence surrounding the van Dijks’ property.

And straw was found on a nearby yard that is being developed for housing, leading Miss van Dijk to think the thieves may have parked a trailer there.

Thames Valley Police are investigating the incident, which is thought to have happened between 1am and 7am.

Helen Evans of Thames Valley HorseWatch said: “It is very unusual for thieves to go to the trouble of stealing a horse and then dump it.

“But this horse was tattooed so the permanent identifying mark may have put them off.”