Horses are at an increasing risk of sexual assault in Switzerland, warn experts.

According to figures there was a record 1,709 cases of animal cruelty in the country last year — with at least one horse being sexually assaulted every three days.

This was up from 1,542 the year before.

And now Swiss animal rights workers are fearing for the safety of horses in the country, after the report suggests that there are 10,000 Swiss who are “sexually interested” in animals.

There are an estimated 110,000 horses living on 18,000 Swiss farms. In 2002 there were 70,000 horses in the country showing the number is rising rapidly..

The results were presented at a press conference in Zurich of animals rights organisation Tier Im Recht (Animals in Law) on Thursday (26 November).

In 2014 there were 105 cases of the maltreatment of horses in Switzerland in 2014 — 10% of which involved sexual contact.

The group said the number of unreported horse abuse cases is likely to be much higher than reported.

“This rate is relatively elevated compared with other types of animals,” Andreas Ruttimann, a legal expert with Tier im Recht, told local press.

“A total of 105 cases of animal cruelty to horses were registered last year, up considerably from previous years, but probably below the actual number of incidents.”

While dogs remain the most common animal targeted by Swiss sexual abusers, horses are becoming increasingly popular.

A spokesman for the organisation said the danger might be part of the appeal as “the chance of getting caught” is much greater than when abusing a pet.