A show pony has been left with a bald and burnt tail after suspected sabotage in the stables at the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead (21-26 July).

A police investigation has been launched after what a vet believes is acid was applied to the tail of mare Kellys Dream.

Her owner, Lisha Leeman, thinks the attack occurred in the early hours of Tuesday,
21 July before the six-year-old competed in the Indian Trail skewbald and piebald plaited large ridden pony class.

“Normally she is very calm. But as I got her ready for her class she was agitated,” said Ms Leeman, 40, of Chelmsford.

“I noticed quite a lot of her tail was coming away, but thought nothing of it.”

The next Monday she realised the extent of the damage.

“The whole tail was gone from the dock down. The vet said he was almost sure it was sabotage as when we checked her bandages and rug, we found the chemical had burnt holes in them,” said Ms Leeman.

Vet Mark Meter, of Blaircourt Equine clinic in Chelmsford, said: “The dermatitis and irritation on the skin was localised and so severe I’m 90 per cent sure it was caused by a toxic chemical.”

Vets are testing the rug, but say chances of ascertaining what chemical it was are slim.

Peter Jeffery, spokesman for Hickstead, said: “The matter is in the hands of the police. We don’t feel there’s anything more we can say.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (13 August, ’09)