The social networks were ablaze with claims that a third horse had been killed in a satanic ritual sacrifice this week.
But police are keen to placate the public and have today (Fri) confirmed the colt died of natural causes.
The black Welsh Colt, called Sammy, was found dead in his field in Holsworthy, North Devon.
It’s thought he was attacked by other animals after dying of natural causes – a common official explanation given when gruesome injuries are found on a horse.
The RSPCA carried out a full investigation after police officers suspected there might be an issue of neglect.
But that’s finished now and there is no suggestion the horse was maltreated in any way by its owner, local breeder Tanya Ingram.
The ‘third sacrifice’ theory made it on to the pages of posh Horse and Hound magazine and has been doing pirouettes around cyberspace ever since.
The wild rumour seems to have morphed out of a real police inquiry into whether the death of Erik the Stallion in Stithians last weekend may have been the work of twisted followers of the occult.
A force spokesman said: “It is true that we are pursuing ritual killing as one of many lines of enquiry into the horse death in Stithians last weekend.
“But there is no suspicion that the death of this horse in Holsworthy is linked.”
The online rumour-mongering – or ‘trolling’ – will only worsen the ordeal of grief-stricken Cornish horse owner Dawn Jewell.
Twenty-seven year old Dawn and her family are this week dealing with the ‘strong’ possibility her favourite horse was killed in some kind of ritual sacrifice.
Dawn’s Stallion Erik suffered sickening injuries overnight last Sunday 8th: his genitals were excised, teeth knocked out and an eye cut out.
The killing came on a full moon, and a day after January 7th – a ‘male animal’ sacrifice date in apocryphal but popular online ‘Satanic Calendars’.
Insp Chris Strickland confirmed that the ritual sacrifice of Erik was a “strong possibility”.
Last week horse breeder Rosemary Penn, from Bodmin, claimed her Shetland Gelding Douglas was killed in a similar way, on January 7th 2007.
Rosemary is categorical Douglas’s genitals were pulled out with a billhook, and has puzzled ever since how anyone got near the shy pony.
The incident was dismissed at the time but police have contacted the 55 year old horse breeder again and are looking into the case.
A force source told the News: “The general, overwhelming feeling is that we must just catch whoever carried out the sickening attack on Erik.
“We have to look into every possibility, whether it be a personal attack, or the act of a dangerous individual, in the guise of a sacrifice, or any other.
“We have to get them off the streets. We believe the public share that goal, and people have been tremendously responsive.
“We have to be completely open minded, but it’s important not to get carried away, or hysterical.”
Did you know?
‘Horse-Ripping’ is a recognised crime, often associated with Black Magick.
Up until 1993 the Met Police had an ‘equine crime’ unit.
The unit found more around a dozen animals were mutilated each year in a series of bizarre incidents.
In the run up to the 2003 Summer Solstice, at least twelve horses were ‘ripped’ along the Derbyshire/Yorkshire border.
The local community reported stones in the shape of five-pointed stars arranged in surrounding fields, and the manes of the unfortunate animals strangely plaited.
One poor horse had eight litres of blood drained from its corpse.
In the US, the FBI conducted a forty-five thousand dollar probe into cattle mutiliations and was unable to explain some of the bizarre features of the deaths.
The official Government report stressed the likelihood of natural scavengers pecking out eyes or ‘coring’ for soft organs through the anus.
More popular beliefs, backed up by sporadic evidence, include military testing, ritual sacrifice and – inevitably – alien experimentation.
Proven motives for ‘horse-ripping’ range from a man getting back at his wife during a divorce, to mental imbalance.
But many features of cattle mutilation remain unexplained.
Pretty much every official theory has been put forward.
Psychologists even once made a link with paedophilia – on the sole basis that one German child pervert mutilated a horse, and that little girls like ponies.
Overall the International League for the Protection of Horses estimate eight of ten horse attacks are the work of other animals.
So remember – anything’s possible, truth is stranger than fiction: but hysteria can seriously damage your health and the health of your community.
Can you help the police track down whoever killed Dawn’s horse?
Call them on 101. It only costs 15p.