The heartbroken owner of a horse seriously injured in a suspected dog attack has urged owners to ensure dogs are kept on leads.
Maria Beves, 19, found her seven-year-old Dutch warmblood mare Garbo unable to move in the field when she went to bring her in on Wednesday (12 December).
Maria told H&H: “I always make sure she isn’t the last horse to come in as she doesn’t like being alone. I just have to call her and she’ll come from 50 metres away but when I called out to her she didn’t come over.
“I walked over to her and she wouldn’t move. I thought at first she was cold as she was shaking but then I realised she was crippled. It was dark and I couldn’t see so I had to get her to the yard and when I got her there my friend walked her for me and I just thought ‘oh my god’. I then saw these lacerations and just about cried.”
Maria, who works with point-to-point horses at a racing yard, said she had “never seen anything like it”.
“I bent down and she had an eight-inch open wound on her stomach. It had to be a dog – she had bite marks on both her stifles, her front right leg was swollen with bite marks, she had bite marks on both hind cannon bones. I’ve checked the field and nothing else could have caused it,” she said.
“We got the vet who wanted to take her into the hospital but we couldn’t travel her in her condition. She can be nervous of vets and it took five rounds of sedation to let the vet treat her. She was shaking and just absolutely petrified – it broke my heart to see her like that.”
Garbo has required two further vet visits since the incident.
“The vet came out on Thursday and again today. They’ve scanned her leg and she has soft tissue damage and damaged ligaments. We had been looking forward to showjumping next season but I don’t know if that will happen now,” said Maria.
“She is usually such a buzzy happy horse but she is just standing in her stable looking depressed. She’s on antibiotics and pain relief twice a day, she doesn’t want to eat – it just isn’t fair. The vet is due back in two weeks’ time to remove the stitches and again in a further few weeks to reassess the lameness.”
Maria said Garbo’s field backs on to the South Downs National Park, West Sussex.
“There is a bridleway above the field and a footpath through it, and you get a lot of dog walkers. I don’t know whether the dog owner was aware their dog was attacking my horse but I would have thought they must have as who in their right mind would have their dog off its lead if it’s going to attack a horse,” she said.
The pony’s owner wants others to be aware of the illegal hunting of deer with dogs
‘It was only later we discovered she had lost the bottom of her tongue which was why she couldn’t feed’
If you want to keep up with the latest from the equestrian world without leaving home, grab a H&H subscription
“My biggest concern is people aren’t aware of the laws in place to stop dogs attacking animals. My concern isn’t finding the dog, it’s making sure the owner is aware and that they keep that dog on a lead and make sure it never happens again. No one, and no animal should ever be put through this experience – it shouldn’t have happened and could have been prevented.
“I own two dogs myself, I just don’t understand how people can let that happen and not tell someone. If it had been my dog I would report it so the horse owner can then treat their horse as quickly as they can. The dog must have had blood on it, to think someone has left Garbo standing there bleeding is shocking.”
Sussex Police are investigating and asked anyone with information to call 101 quoting reference 446 of 14/12.
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.