Are horse attacks on the increase?

  • Shock and anger surrounded the death of a pony drowned in a Hampshire lake as H&H went to press last Monday (11 July).

    But the incident was just one of a frighteningly large number of attacks on horses this month.

    Initial reports were that the pony, harnessed to a trap, was forced into Hawley Lake on 9 July in what appeared to be a travellers’ feud.

    A passerby jumped into the lake to try to save the animal, but was kicked and was taken to hospital. The pony’s body was later recovered by divers.

    A spokesman for Hampshire Police said: “Conflicting reports surrounding the exact circumstances of the incident were given to officers. This incident may have been a tragic accident, not a deliberate act.”

    Police and welfare groups are appealing for witnesses.

    But there have been other, conclusively cruel attacks in the past two weeks.

    On 5 July a young Shetland pony was euthanased in Gravesend, Kent, after it was found with an ear cut off and slice wounds all over its body.

    The RSPCA is at a loss to explain why the pony was targeted in this way.

    A spokesman said: “Any deliberate act of cruelty is shocking — and one incident is one too many. It’s beyond belief why anyone would want to harm animals in this way.”

    And on 2 July two ponies and a cow were shot dead as they grazed in a field near Tideswell, Derbyshire (news, 7 July).

    A 52-year-old man was arrested by police, who described it as a “senseless act”.

    Other attacks this year include a mare shot with a crossbow in Surrey in April, a Shetland allegedly sexually assaulted then hacked to death in Essex and a man seen attacking a horse in a field in Liphook, Hampshire, in May.

    There seems no link or reason for this spate of horse attacks but it has shocked welfare organisations.

    Thames Valley Police equine liaison officer Helen Evans said: “You should visit your horse at least once a day. Report any suspicious sightings to the police and make sure your neighbours are also on the look out.”

    This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (14 July, 2011)

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