The RSPCA is appealing for witnesses after being called to a pony with a 20-inch arrow in her face. The society believes it was a deliberate act of cruelty.

Bambi, 10, was spotted by members of the public in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, on Monday (10 June). As she was in distress and it would have caused more damage to have tried to catch her, RSPCA inspector Joanne Taylor recommended that Bambi was left in the field until the owners returned. She was then taken to Churchfield Veterinary Centre’s equine unit.

X-rays showed that the arrow had penetrated four inches deep into the sinuses, but was not fatal. The arrow was removed, and puncture wound stitched up. Bambi is now recovering at home, mostly on box-rest until the wound heals, but she was allowed out into the field yesterday.

The vet in attendance, Bill Black, said the mare was lucky to be alive as the arrow missed vital structures.

Inspector Taylor said: “This was a horrific and deliberate act of animal cruelty on a defenceless animal. The arrow had caused Bambi so much distress, every time she moved she banged it, causing her more pain. It really unnerved her — you could tell she was terrified by what had happened.

“We believe this arrow bolt is likely to have been fired from a crossbow,” she added.

Bambi’s owners, who wished to remain anonymous, told reporters that they were “horrified”.

“We are so upset to think that someone was wandering around the area brandishing a dangerous weapon,” they said.

Anyone with information should contact the RSPCA on 0300 123 8018.