By George Block for Otago Daily Times
A miniature horse from Waitati in Otago which was stabbed more than 40 times on Sunday night has died.
The owner of Star, a 10-year-old calf-sized horse, said this morning one of the wounds had punctured his bowel and he had died overnight.
"A f****** lunatic with a knife is in our community and killed a little baby horse.''
Veterinarians were yesterday optimistic about his chance's of recovery, after Star survived the stabbing attack in his paddock in the small seaside town.
"I'm so angry, I'm so disappointed, and the thing that was getting me through this was that the little guy was going to pull through."
"One of those tiny little cuts actually perforated his bowel and they came in this morning and he was dead.
Police have launched an investigation and are appealing for information.
Otago Equine Hospital veterinarian Peter Gillespie believes more than one assailant was responsible.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the owner said her friend was walking a dog near Star's corner paddock at the intersection of Brown and Pitt Sts, when he heard whinnying.
He discovered Star was no longer tethered, and a trail of blood led down the road.
Following the trail, the owner said he found the "little bloodied horse'' still alive a short distance down the road.
The man went to alert the owner, and together they managed to get Star into a float and transport him to the equine hospital in Mosgiel.
Despite Star suffering 41 puncture wounds and a huge loss of fluid, veterinarian Stephanie Bransgrove managed to save his life, operating for about five hours through early yesterday.
Once the horse was treated, Dr Bransgrove discovered the wounds were too clean and deep to have been sustained during a dog attack, as they initially suspected.
Dr Gillespie said when Star was admitted, about 3am, he, too, thought it was a dog attack.
It eventually became clear the wounds, including one near the jugular, were created with a sharp knife, not with a dog's teeth, Dr Gillespie said.
"Far too clean and far too deep - teeth would actually tear the skin.
"The edges are like what we would create when we do a surgical incision.''
He had seen nothing like it in his long career, and believed at least two people may have been involved in the attack as the horse would not have stood still while being stabbed.
"I've been doing this for close to 40 years and this is just the worst, most distressing thing I've ever seen.''
The owner said she was shocked and frightened to discover someone would attack her beloved miniature horse.
"He's tiny, he's cute, he's about the size of a calf, and some [person] just went to town stabbing him.
"Whoever this [person] was actually cut the horse free. He was tethered in the paddock - he ran down the road leaving a trail of blood.''
She had no idea why someone would have attacked Star.
A police spokesperson said police understood the injuries were "caused by a blade or similar''. They have asked for anyone with information to come forward.
This story was originally published on the Otago Daily Times.