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‘Unthinkable’ crime as pregnant mare ‘overwhelmed’ left to endure and die with damaged hind leg

  • The heartbroken owner of a heavily pregnant mare who is thought to have been chased and beaten, and was left to die with a broken leg, says there can be no justice for such a horrific act.

    Lauren Sapsted’s mare Alice was found dead by Lauren’s seven-year-old daughter Bella on Monday morning (16 May). She had been due to give birth in three weeks, and had gone into labour in her panic but the foal did not survive. Her hind leg was broken.

    Lauren, of LS Sporthorses, moved to her yard in Northiam, East Sussex, two years ago after her former base was destroyed in a fire.

    “I honestly thought after the fire that nothing could feel worse than that,” she told H&H. “But this is a million, trillion times worse. My poor Bells is a mess.”

    Lauren said Alice, a former showjumper who won at 1.50m level, was out with two other pregnant mares but had been due to come in this week to prepare for her foal’s arrival.

    “I had the call at about 7.45am on Monday, to say all the horses were out,” she said. “I was petrified they’d be running around getting hurt so I got to the yard, and the man who lives on site told me he’d caught the six who were out and put them away.

    “He said ‘Don’t worry, the mummies are ok’; he said there were two out there and I said ‘There should be three’,” Lauren said. “I thought she’d been stolen so I went into the field to see if she’d gone behind the shelter. There’s a bit you can’t see because it’s round a corner and under a tree — and she was there, with a broken leg.

    “Bells found her and started screaming ‘Mummy, Mummy’. I ran, came round the corner and found her with six inches of bone sticking out of her leg. She’d gone into labour, and she’d dug holes in the ground where she was trying to get up. Her headcollar was missing; that’s evidence because I think they’d taken her to that corner to do that. They think she’d been hit but something traumatic happened to that leg.

    “It’s beyond cruelty; they left her on the ground to suffer, in immense pain. That’s the worst thing.”

    Lauren said one of the other mares had a bruised face, too small to be from a hoofprint, and none of the mares were shod. She believes the culprits intended to cause pain.

    “There’s something seriously wrong with people who can do that,” she said.

    Lauren said Alice was “the sweetest, kindest mare ever”.

    “I bought her from a client who was moving abroad and wanted her to go to someone who would love her and have her till the end of her days,” she said. “Her favourite thing was ear scratches, she’d follow me around if I was poo-picking, waiting for her next cuddle. We were all set for her to come in and have her foal. I just wanted me and the kids to be there because they adored her.

    “It’s unthinkable; heartbreaking. I’ve been sleeping at the yard and Bells is petrified thinking we or the horses are in danger.”

    Police are investigating; a driver on his way to work reported seeing a passer-by at about 3.55am on Monday, and any information or dashcam or CCTV footage can be sent to officers.

    Lauren believes it was people familiar with the area, as they came on to the site from a direction not covered by security lights or smart doorbells, or overlooked. A GoFundMe page has been set up by a friend to go towards a reward for any information submitted.

    “Whoever it was needs to be found,” Lauren said. “There’s no justice for doing something like this but they need to be brought to justice.”

    A Sussex Police spokesman said officers from the rural crime team visited the scene yesterday (17 May).

    “The incident will be investigated further,” he said. “We urge anyone with information or dashcam footage from the area on either Saturday 15 or Sunday 16 May to contact us online, or via 101, quoting serial 369 of 16/05.”

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