Tommy the horse is lucky to be alive after a knife-wielding thug slashed his neck in his pasture in County Durham, England.
Tommy required 90 stitches to close the wound. The injury was discovered in time to prevent Tommy dying from blood loss.
Durham Police have labelled the attack barbaric and are investigating.
Tommy, 6, a harness racehorse who won nine of his 12 starts last season, was found with the injury in his field in Pesspool Lane, Haswell, on Thursday morning. The attack probably occurred overnight.
Seaham-based Constable Kevin Woodcock said the wound was horrendous and could not have been the result of an accident.
He told reporters: “I have never come across anything so barbaric in my 20-plus years of police service.
“We suspect something like a butcher’s knife may have been used. If anyone has any suspicions as to who was responsible, I would urge them to contact the police or the independent charity Crimestoppers.”
It was initially thought that Tommy may have hurt himself on a wire fence, but this was quickly ruled out once the extent of wound was determined.
The slash was up to 12 inches across, penetrating up to 4 inches deep in places.
Tommy’s owners were named by local media as Andrew Blench, 41, and Alison Cook, 42.
Cook told local reporters: “I feel sick. The vet could fit her hand and forearm into the wound, the muscle in his neck probably saved his life. If he had been thinner the knife would have gone right through.”
His racing career is now on hold while he recovers.
Cook, who found the injury when she went to feed Tommy on Thursday morning, said Tommy really belonged to her daughter, Megan, 16, whom she described as heartbroken.
The family has cared for Tommy for four years, investing much time, attention, money and love in the horse to turn him into a promising harness-racing horse.