A horse found dead in a field had been repeatedly stabbed and mutilated, police revealed last night.

Detectives are hunting the people responsible for attacking and killing 18-month-old Rascal, who had suffered horrific injuries.

Last night an RSPCA spokesman said the horse suffered “extreme mutilation”.

He said: “This was a very nasty attack.

“It is being treated very seriously and we are working with the police to find out who is responsible.”

The animal was in a field off Kings Ride in Alfriston when it was attacked at the weekend.

A post-mortem on the horse was carried out at the Royal Veterinary College in Hertfordshire.

It confirmed the horse died from multiple injuries to its face, neck and body.

Ray Savage, chairman of Alfriston Parish Council and a former police investigator, saw its body in the field.

He said: “I have never seen anythinglike it. It was very, very unusual.

“People are mentioning things like ‘ritual’ and ‘torture’ but I wouldn’t like to say anything just yet. I don’t know what the motive was.

“There is a lot of fear in the village over this. People are upset.”

The horse was found dead by a member of staff at Alfriston Horse Riding Centre.

A spokeswoman for the centre said: “Its injuries were sick. Everyone is very upset and the owners are devastated.”

The owners of the animal were last night too upset to talk about the incident but they released a statement through Sussex Police urging anyone who knew anything to come forward.

It read: “We are devastated by the loss of our beautiful horse. We would urge anyone with information to please contact the police.”