CALLOUS rustlers left a foal for dead after attempting to steal her in an overnight raid.

One-year-old Havana had less than an hour to live when she was discovered near her field on Friday morning.

She had been tied to a post with a piece of rope wrapped tightly around her neck.

Luckily, her owners found her in the nick of time, and vets hope she will go on to make a full recovery.

Lesley West, Beckie Fuidge and Becky Spillane, who jointly own the foal, say they also believe she had been kicked and punched by the intruders.

Lesley said: “We found her when we went to do the morning feed at around 9am. She wasn’t in her field – she was on the track outside, and there was a rope dog-lead wrapped incredibly tightly around her neck. We couldn’t get our fingers underneath the rope to pull it off.”

She said Havana’s back legs and face were ‘badly swollen’ from a beating, and added: “It’s just absolutely horrendous.”

Becky’s daughter Izzy, 10, a Moordown St John’s schoolgirl, helped to rescue Havana and a second foal last year.

While Havana survived, the other young horse sadly died.

“I just didn’t know how to tell her about this,” said Becky, who keeps a number of horses at Hicks Yard at Throop.

“None of us has slept thinking about it. They tried to take her, and when they couldn’t, they just left her for dead.”

Lesley said: “The vet told us that if we hadn’t found her for another hour, she would have died because of the lead around her neck.

“We just want to warn other horse owners about this.”

Beckie said she believes that the raiders were scared off after other horses in adjoining fields began to make noise.

“A woman staying across the road said she heard the horses making a lot of noise sometime between 2am and 4am,” she said.

“We think there must have been a bit of a racket, and all the horses were together in the same field when we arrived the next morning, so it looks like they were badly disturbed.”

Izzy said: “I felt so upset when I found out. I couldn’t get to sleep last night because I was so worried about it. It’s so sad to think somebody has done this.”

A Dorset Police spokesperson said: “This is currently under investigation.”

To speak to officers with information, call 101.