A 12-year-old international showjumper has been killed in an attack in Florida.

French-bred gelding Phedras De Blondel was found slaughtered at his owners’ farm in Palmetto at around 7am on Sunday (25 October).

He was found with his legs and part of his body removed.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Department believe the horse was killed for meat.

The horse was removed from his pen between 8.30pm on Saturday (24 October) and 6.45am on Sunday (25 October).

Phedras De Blondel, by Fetiche Du Pas and out of Belphegor IV, had been bought from France by US rider Debbie and Steve Stephens, an Olympic course-designer.

He had only arrived in the USA a few days earlier and had left quarantine at Miami airport on Thursday night.

Prior to the move the horse had been competed by French showjuper Christian Hermon. The pair last competed at the CSI2* in Auvers in August, finishing 14th.

“We don’t think they wanted this particular horse other than for its size,” Dave Bristow of the Sheriff’s Department told local press.

“We are hoping someone saw something unusual, an unusual car or truck in the area. The farm is not that far from the highway.

We have never had a case like this that I can remember.

“It’s grisly. There has been a case in the Palm Beach County area involving a slaughterhouse, but nothing like that here.”

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No suspects have been identified yet.

“The horse looks like he was butchered out for slaughter after he was killed,” Steve said. “This was a murder.

“We want to talk about this and get it in the light so our neighbours who have animals can be aware that this happened.”

The Stephens’ property is around 200 miles from Wellington and Palm Beach.

Earlier this month three illegal slaughterhouses in Loxahatchee, Florida, were raided by authorities.

Animal Recovery Mission had conducted an undercover operation about the illegal slaughter of horses at the farms in the Palm Beach and Wellington area.

Six people were arrested and 750 animals rescued.

There is no evidence to suggest this is linked to the attack.