POLICE and animal welfare experts are investigating the horrific mutilation of an elderly horse.
The SSPCA is appealing for information after a 23-year-old Icelandic gelding, named Hrafn, was found bleeding heavily in an Edinburgh field.
Hrafn’s penis had almost been severed in the appalling attack, which was discovered on Thursday last week.
Links to witchcraft have been ruled out by the SSPCA, who also insist the attack is an isolated incident.
But Lothian and Borders Police are advising horse owners to be “extra vigilant” following the attack at Swanston Livery Yard to the south of the city.
The horse, whose name is old norse for Raven, required emergency surgery to remove his penis and is continuing to recover under veterinary supervision.
SSPCA Senior Inspector John Toule said: “The vet advised that Hrafn sustained a clean cut with a sharp metal instrument.
“They have also said that this appears to have been a malicious attack.
“Hrafn was found by his owner on Thursday morning. She had last visited him on Wednesday evening, therefore we believe the incident occurred either late on Wednesday night or in the early hours of Thursday morning.
“Hrafn had lost a lot of blood and, although he was still standing, was very weak.
“It is difficult to comprehend why anyone would do this to a defenceless animal and this attack is extremely concerning.
“Causing an animal unnecessary suffering is an offence and anyone found guilty of doing so can expect to be banned from owning animals for a fixed period or life.
“We are urging horse owners in the area to be on guard and report any suspicious activity.
“Anyone with information on this sickening incident should contact us or the police as soon as possible.”
Hrafn’s owner added: “This was a cowardly and cruel act.
“Thankfully, Hrafn is recovering well but he is clearly traumatised.
“He is such a gentle and quiet older horse and it is hard to understand how anyone could put an animal through this sort of pain.”
The Swanston Livery is set in 700 acres of land and is located on the southern edge of Edinburgh inside the Pentland Regional Park.
Horse owners are offered a grass livery, jumping paddocks, a grass riding arena and field shelters at the livery.
There are also two indoor riding schools within its grounds.
A police spokesman said: “We are working closely with the Scottish SPCA as part of our investigation into this incident, and we are appealing to anyone who has any information that can assist our enquiries to contact police as a matter of urgency.
“Anyone who was in the area of Swanston Road close to the livery yard on Wednesday night into Thursday morning last week, who noticed any suspicious activity, should contact police on 101.”
“In these situations we would always advise people in the area to be extra vigilant,” he added.
A spate of sickening attacks on horses last year prompted animal welfare experts to fear witchcraft may be behind the incidents.
A horse had its forelock and mane hacked last April – the second attack of its kind in just seven days.
Another pony had his forelock and mane chopped off while he was grazing in the middle of the day.
The charity encouraged horse and pony owners in the Lothians to be vigilant after the incidents.