A horse has suffered serious internal injuriesafter being attacked with a broom handle in an incident which his owner thinks may be sexually motivated and linked to a religious cult.

Jo McGurk, 59, from Kingsley in Northampton thinks the fact that the attack took place sometime between Easter Sunday and Easter Monday is significant.

“The end of the pagan year falls over the Easter weekend and I think that the attack on my horse could be linked with this,” says Jo, who approached his local paper, the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, in a bid to highlight the issue.

Jo arrived at the yard on Easter Monday and found his 20-year-old cob Rupert with an 18-inch broom handle lodged in his purse – the tube that leads to the reproductive organs.

“I was a bit late arriving at the yard,” explained Jo. “And because he is a grumpy old horse sometimes, it isn’t unusual to find him in the corner of his stable.

“It wasn’t until I went to lead him out that I noticed he wasn’t walking properly and called one of the girls to have a look at him.

“Around his back we found traces of blood and when you lifted up his tail you could see something sticking out.”

Jo immediately called the vet who heavily sedated the gelding in order to remove the piece of wood.

“The vet was really worried that the wood had pierced the rectum but luckily it hadn’t.” explained Jo.

“We are washing out the wound twice a day and surprisingly he isn’t worried about us doing it. The vet is pleased with his progress but at the moment we aren’t sure whether Rupert will suffer any permanent muscle damage to that area.”

No other horses were harmed in the area and Jo believes that Rupert was targeted because he was stabled on the end of the block furthest from the house.

“The yard has introduced extra safety measures such as an alarm and intruder lights to try and stop this kind of thing happening again.”

Jo’s opinon on the nature of the attack have been vehemently refuted by members of the British Pagan community, who pointed out that Paganism – the end of whose calendar year is in Autumn rather than Easter, is a religion of love and respect for nature. The Pagan Federation of Scotland has been working with the SSPCA in investigating attacks on horses since last October.”

A spokesperson from Northamptonshire police said: “There have been no other reports of attacks on horses and we can confirm that police are currently investigating this incident.”

Anyone with any information should contact Northamptonshire police (tel: 01604 700700.)