CHARITIES and the police are considering the creation of a database of attacks against horses after a summer that is shaping up to be one of the worst for equine cruelty.

During July, H&H reported seven incidents, ranging from horses being burned alive in an arson attack to a pony being stabbed more than 40 times.

Charity spokesmen agree the numbers seem to be rising, but there are no official figures.

“There are three types of attacks on horses,” said Ted Barnes of World Horse Welfare. “There’s the vendetta, where someone has a beef with an owner or horse; the criminal, where the attack is for no apparent reason, and the ritualistic or sexual,” he said.

Mr Barnes is a former policeman who was part of the Metropolitan Police’s now defunct equine crime prevention unit.

“We used to say that bad weather was the best policeman, because the summer is the time when these people come out.

“But the increase in attacks is inexplicable and I think vigilance is the only answer,” added Mr Barnes.

The number of attacks has bewildered Lee Hackett of the British Horse Society.

“I think there have been a greater number of attacks and we would like to try to record them, but it’s impossible to get hold of the figures,” he said.

“We are looking into the best way of creating a database and will want the public’s help in due course to let us know about incidents as they happen.”

Detective inspector Dave Collings, who heads Hampshire police’s equine crime unit and the local Horsewatch scheme, agrees that a national database of horse crime is the only way to gauge the level of attacks.

But he warns that all other causes of injuries must be investigated first before foul play is blamed.

And national Horsewatch organiser, Garry Porter, said he was surprised by the number of incidents in July.

“In a normal month we would get one incident reported to us, so this is a lot,” he said.

He urged horse owners to report all suspicious incidences with their horses to the police.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (14 August, ’08)