A horse-owner who caught a group of youths beating her ponies with iron poles has appealed for help to catch them.

He woman was coming to feed the four ponies at 7pm on Thursday 19 June when she saw two boys and three girls in the field on Churchill Way in Basingstoke, attacking her ponies.

When confronted, one of the youths threatened to come back and kill the ponies.

PC Ian Wonnacott from Hampshire police said: “This was a despicable attack on defenceless animals and I am disgusted by the behaviour of those responsible.

“This was an extremely distressing incident, not only for the animals but also for the owner who witnessed the attack.

“I would ask anyone who knows who was responsible, or has any information about this incident, to contact us in confidence.

“We are particularly keen to hear from anyone who saw five youths cycling past the Sainsbury’s depot towards the Houndsmill roundabout about 7.10pm that evening.”

Anyone with any information should telephone Hampshire police on 0845 045 45 45.