The owner of a horse shot three times in the head said she is lucky the injuries were not worse.

Danielle Remblance’s Welsh cob Terra was attacked in his field, in Wickford, Essex, on May 14.

Danielle told H&H she and the friend who found him at first thought Terra had injured himself.

“There were what looked like three cuts, all pouring blood and massively swollen,” she said.

“He was very, very sore at first and wouldn’t let us touch the wounds but by the time the vet came, he was feeling a bit better and let us clean them up. That’s when we realised they were perfect round circles.

“We were puzzled; it didn’t cross my mind that he had been shot.”

The circular wounds, with no scraping or other injuries, led friends and vets to think it likely the gelding had been shot with an airgun.

Danielle booked Terra in for an X-ray straight away.

“You can see there are bits inside him – one’s 2cm in,” she said. “The vets say they can’t tell 100% without taking them out, but they think he’s been shot.

“I’ve no idea why anyone would do that.”

Danielle wants the attack publicised to make other local owners aware, and also with the hope of “making people think twice before they do something like this”.

Terra, with whom Danielle competed at Equifest last year, is now recovering well.

“He’s looking good,” Danielle said. “I burst into tears when I first saw him and haven’t been able to sleep, it’s been a week of hell.

“Now, I’m just thinking how lucky we both were. For the first three days, he was really spooky and frightened of everything but he seems to have relaxed and is back to normal; he’s going to be ok.”

Danielle’s vets said the debris should be left in, as attempting to extract it could be dangerous owing to its location, and that after Terra finishes his course of antibiotics, his body may try to expel them, so they will move closer to the surface and be easier to reach, or they may cause no problems where they are.

“I hate to think of the bullets left in him but I’ll just have to get on with it,” Danielle said.

“He’s getting better and the worst swelling has almost gone; hopefully there won’t be any scars.

“But even if there are, that won’t stop us. We’ll still compete, whether judges like it or not, he deserves to go out and carry on.”