The devastated owner of a pregnant mare whose leg was badly broken in a suspected dog attack hopes sharing her story could help prevent other such incidents.
Georgia Ashley-Smith found her nine-year-old in-foal miniature Lolita covered in blood and fatally injured on the morning of 11 June.
Georgia told H&H she saw something was wrong as soon as she went to the field to bring the horses in.
“The four bigger horses and the other mini were all huddled round her,” she said.
“I could see from 200m away that the leg was broken; it was hanging at a horrible angle.
“As I got closer, I could see her whole front end was covered in blood. I shouted at my five-year-old daughter to get out of the field but it was too late. She’d already seen it.”
Georgia called her vet but she knew nothing could be done to save Lolita.
“She was shaking from head to toe,” she said. “As soon as he came, I said ‘please put her to sleep, please end it’. He could tell just by looking that there was no other outcome.”
The vet examined Lolita afterwards and found her leg was “completely snapped through”.
“There was nothing we could have done to fix her,” Georgia said.
Lolita had also sustained puncture wounds, and wounds consistent with bites, while three of the other horses were found to have similar, less serious, marks.
“The vet said it was a dog attack, and I suspect it was probably more than one dog,” Georgia said. “There’s a footpath in the wood next to my field but the path shouldn’t come anywhere near it – although since lockdown, there have been a lot more people walking and they’ve strayed off the path, creating a wider one, so it’s now coming towards my field.”
Georgia has shared pictures and details of the incident online, and Sussex Police are investigating.
“I’d like someone to admit to it,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll get that but it would give some form of closure for me and my daughter.
“If she’d broken her leg because one of the others kicked her or something, that would be awful but I could accept it. If I could speak to the person, I’d say: ‘why did you leave her? Why did you walk away?’ It’s a small village and everyone knows us, and my phone number’s on every gate and fence post. They could have rung and said there had been an accident and then gone, but they left her to suffer.
“She was such a character; very cheeky, and beautiful, a really lovely horse to have around. She was in foal for the first time too, and I’ve lost them both.”
Georgia said she is disappointed in the lack of legal protection for animals attacked by dogs; the law is not the same as if a person is hurt.
“If this prevents the same happening again, at least I’ve achieved something,” she said. “I’d love to get justice for her, and for someone to admit it, but it’s about stopping this happening to anyone else.”
The pony’s owner wants others to be aware of the illegal hunting of deer with dogs
Tracey’s 17-year-old niece, Milly, fell off during the incident
If you want to keep up with the latest from the equestrian world without leaving home, grab a H&H subscription
PC Giancarlo Leone from the Sussex Police rural crime team said: “This is a truly distressing incident for the victim and family. We recognise the impact this has on them as well as the wider community.
“We urge anyone with information that could assist our enquiries to come forward.
“With our combined passion for protecting rural communities and animals we are determined to help prevent further incidents and assist in bringing offenders to justice.”
Anyone with information is asked to report online or call 101, quoting serial 358 of 11/06.
We continue to publish Horse & Hound magazine weekly during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as keeping horseandhound.co.uk up to date with all the breaking news, features and more. Click here for info about magazine subscriptions (six issues for £6) and access to our premium H&H Plus content online.