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One of South Africa’s top dressage horses has been killed after stepping on a live electrical cable in his paddock in Ottery, a suburb of Cape Town.

Goldmark Brutus, who last year won the Western Province championships and two classes at the South African dressage championships, died within seconds as he stepped on the cable in view of owner Laura Kotze. Laura had just turned the gelding out in a paddock at her home after rain had ended their training session.

Laura told the Cape Argus: “I first thought he had a heart attack. It was terrible to see it happen. I bred him, he grew up here. We used to call him the King because he was so easy to train and he had such a lovely temperament.”

It is thought the cable was left on the ground after thieves had cut and removed several other overhead electrical and telephone cables.

Laura added: “He was my pet and my friend. My horses are like my children”.

The nine-year-old was thought to be worth up to 1 million Rand (£70,260).