The Glasgow Herald (Scotland), Oct. 28, 2002
Animal welfare experts have uncovered a link between appalling attacks on horses and significant dates in the pagan calendar.
The Scottish SPCA and its English equivalent, the RSPCA, yesterday warned horse owners to be on guard after new research by the National Equine Welfare Council established “a clear association” between attacks throughout Britain and witchcraft in the approach to Hallowe’en.
Horses have had blood taken, their tails and manes cut, and some have been sexually assaulted.
Owners have also been warned to look for sticky plaits woven into their horses’ manes, small altars where horse’s hair has been burned and even pagan symbols such as pentagrams and double-headed axes.
The Scottish SPCA said an attack near Aberdeen last week, in which two horses’ tails were hacked off, inflicting an injury to the spine of one of the horses, as well as other attacks in Angus, may be related to witchcraft.
Doreen Graham, SSPCA spokeswoman, said: “We know of the pattern which has emerged and we are worried about more attacks on horses in the run-up to Hallowe’en, which is celebrated as a festival of the dead in the pagan calendar.
“There are people that would wish to use black magic to cause harm and it would appear that some of the attacks on horses have been quite vicious.
“Horse incidents do seem to occur in flurries and they have started again now before Hallowe’en.
“We are issuing a warning to owners, but if there have been incidents, no matter how trivial they may seem – like the plaiting of the mane – they should contact us so that we can investigate further.
“Some of these stories sound like Robert Burns’s story of Tam o’ Shanter but when horses are slashed with knives or sexually assaulted, there is definitely a cruelty issue.
“There is a clear association with the pagan calendar.”
Helene Mauchlen, the British Horse Society’s development officer in Scotland, said: “The connection between witchcraft and attacks on horses is a scary discovery.
“We would urge all owners and carers to be extra vigilant in checking their horses and ponies for any signs of interference no matter how small.”
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