IN the early hours of July 2nd, a horse sustained serious cuts and lacerations in an unexplained attack at stables outside Ross.

Owner Rachel Baugh went to check on her animals in the middle of the morning, as usual, and was shocked to see one of them, an adult bay called Henry, distressed and in pain. Speaking to the Ross Gazette, she said that at first she had thought it was a horse bite on the horse's back.

On closer inspection she discovered deep wound on its rump and back. "I didn't know what to do with myself. I called the vet right away," said Rachel. Simon Lyddon, of Archenfield Veterinary Surgery, attended the animal soon after her call.

Lyddon once lived on Exmoor for many years, and heard many stories regarding the 'beast of Exmoor'. "I was one of the biggest cynics about these things," he told the Gazette. "However, having looked at the injuries, there is a definite possibility that they were inflicted by a big cat."

A big cat expert and game ranger from South Africa who lives near Rachel and heard about the attack, saw the injuries and stated that they bore all the hallmarks of a big cat attack, where the cat had leaped up onto the animal from behind.

Rachel had allowed Henry to strip graze, and immediately after the attack trail marks could be seen through the longer grass and, in other areas, where an animal had been lying. "It's like it was stalking," she said.

Danny Bamping of the British Big Cat Organisation told the Ross Gazette: "There have been a couple of cases in West Wales where a similar attack has taken place." Bamping, whose organisation was set up to scientifically identify and protect big cats, said, on the basis of the photographic evidence he has seen of the attack. that he was "95 per cent sure the injuries are the result of a big cat attack."

Local wildlife liaison officer PC Wendy Powell has asked readers who may have reports of sightings or similar attacks to contact the police, and [we] "will try and deal with it as best we can."

The good news is that Henry's wounds are healing well, and he should make a full recovery.