A horse was left needing 90 stitches after it was slashed through the neck with a blade in County Durham.

Five-year-old harness racer Tommy was found in his field in Haswell on 4 September.

His owner Alison Cook has said that neither she nor her partner Andrew Blench have any idea who attacked Tommy or why.

She said: “I feel sick, the same should be done to the person who did this to a defenceless animal. I’m not a vicious person, but this is bad.”

Initial thoughts that the horse could have injured itself on barbed wire were quickly ruled out when the extent of the injuries were seen.

A vet from Dunelm Veterinary Group was called out and said had the horse not been found when it was, it could easily have died from blood loss.

“The vet could fit her hand and forearm into the wound, the muscle in his neck probably saved his life. If he had been thinner, the knife would have gone right through,” added Ms Cook.

The horse had a 10-12in horizontal cut, approximately 4in deep and was bleeding heavily on the right side of its neck.

The investigating police officer, PC Kevin Woodcock, said the wound was “horrendous and could not have been the result of an accident. We suspect something like a butcher’s knife may have been used. I have never come across anything so barbaric in my 20-plus years of police service.”

The police are appealing for information to find those behind the attack.

“If anyone has any suspicions as to who was responsible, I would urge them to contact the police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers,” added PC Woodcock.

A second horse in the east Durham area was found with a knife wound yesterday (11 September).

The trotting horse, Chanelle, was in a field about four miles away from the site of the previous attack.

Local press have reported the horse had a 3in gash on her back.

Police are investigating, but cannot say whether the two incidents are connected at this stage.