"I’VE never seen anything quite so distressing and upsetting as this."

These are the words of an RSPCA inspector as the charity called for information after a pregnant pony was found dying whilst attempting to give birth to her foal in North Warnborough over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

The foal died while the pony has had to be put to sleep.

Officers were called to the scene by passers-by who found the piebald mare collapsed on the ground, part-way through giving birth to her foal, in a field in Mill Lane yesterday (Monday).

The pony, thought to be around five-years-old, was found with approximately 20 other horses in the field, including a youngster found standing beside her, who is thought to be her foal from last year.

RSPCA inspector Nikki Denham rushed to join the people who had gathered in the field and were desperately trying to help the pony by scooping water into her mouth, and trying to help her deliver her foal.

Inspector Denham said: “In all my years as an RSPCA inspector, I’ve never seen anything quite so distressing and upsetting as this.

“The mare was painfully thin and collapsed on the floor, and she had only managed to partly give birth to her foal. Tragically, the foal had died during the birth, and it was just so upsetting that his lifeless little body had to be pulled out of the mare, who was in such a grave condition herself.

“The weather was really hot and the kind people who had found her had tried to give her water, and I called a vet out immediately in the hope there was something that could be done to save her.

"Tragically, she was so emaciated and exhausted from the birth, as well as suffering with severe parasites, the vets made the decision to put her to sleep to end her severe suffering, with permission from the police.

“As a previous horse owner myself, I am shocked and completely appalled by this tragic incident. I’m so upset about it as I’ve never seen a thinner horse than this, and the most distressing aspect is that it was totally avoidable if her owner had given her the proper care and attention she so desperately needed.

“I’d like to thank the members of the public, some of whom were children, that stayed with the mare and showed her such kindness. Sadly they had to witness such a traumatic incident over what should have a been a very enjoyable and relaxing Bank Holiday for them.

“I am very keen to hear from anybody with any information to lead us to who owns this mare. She was not microchipped but if people can come forward with information that will help me investigate I would be very grateful. They can be assured they can contact me in complete confidence, by leaving a message for me on our inspector’s appeal line number on 0300 123 8018.”

Inspector Denham added: “The RSPCA relies on the public to be our eyes and ears, and so it’s vital people keep reporting cruelty and neglect to us, and also come forward with essential information to help us investigate.

"Land owners must remember as well that they also have the ability to stand up for the welfare of horses kept on their land, and use the powers they have under the Control of Horse Act 2015 to make fly grazing more difficult for irresponsible owners.”