The grisly find of a headless horse on a Cornish beach this week has been linked to a ‘barbaric’ cross-channel trade in the animals.
Police are investigating how the headless pony washed up on Pentewan Sands on the South Coast not far from St Austell on Monday.
Officers were quick to rule out any link with the the last equine scandal in the Duchy: the shocking ritualistic murder of Erik the Stallion in Stithians this January, in which one line of police enquiry is Satanic sacrifice.
They say instead the horse’s head could have been severed cleanly by a boat propeller.
The revelation links the animals death to a controversial horsemeat trade.
Hundred of horses are regularly ferried across the Channel to mainland Europe, where abattoirs process the animals as a delicacy.
And welfare campaigners say the headless pony at Pentewan is a ‘clear indicator’ horses are mistreated en route – and shoved overboard if they die.
A police spokesman said: “We are not linking this incident to the death of Erik or to the death of any other horse. We don’t believe the death to be suspicious.
“The neck was severed cleanly and that could have been done by a boat propeller. There’s a number of possible causes of its death.”
Jennifer MacGregor MBE, chairwoman of the Society for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies ,revealed:”There is a regular and legal trade, sadly, in horses being ferried across the Channel.
“Horses which are not valuable to be sold as riding horses, are sold in Europe, where horsemeat is eaten.
“We think that’s barbaric and needs to be stopped.
“But we think these dead horses are from illegal transports. We suspect moving horses abroad is often a cover for smuggling.
“What we think happens is that crates are put on the deck, and that rather than go ashore with a dead horse, a horse that dies will be thrown overboard.
“Horses don’t fall off ships: they’re pushed. And this happens frequently. Two have been washed up in Carmarthenshire this week according to my contacts here.”
“How else would a horse wind up washed on a beach missing its head?”
Jennifer said: “This is an indicator of a really quite serious animal welfare scandal: but the horse transporters will say ‘What proof have you got?’
“But there is a huge and unseen problem with illegal trading.”
Pentewan Sands Holiday Park, who own the beach, took the corpse away the next day.
If you know anything about what happened or think you know who’s pony it might be should ring St Austell Police on 101 and quote reference number 484 May 7th.