MISGUIDED animal welfare activists could be responsible for threatening the lives of horses grazing in fields near a Hampshire stable.

In what is believed to be random attacks the straps of five muzzles have been slashed while horses have been grazing in fields near a private livery yard at West End.

None of the horses were injured but yard manager Nikki Felton says that by removing the muzzles the welfare of horses was being threatened.

Without the protection of muzzles they are in danger of overfeeding on the lush green grass and running the risk of contracting the killer disease laminitis.

It is a condition that usually effects an equine's front hooves. The animal can become rooted to the spot, finding it too painful to take a single step or it might be down for hours at a time.

The tack is recommended by the RSPCA and vets and Stable chiefs, who have called in the police to investigate the incidents, believe the same person is responsible for slashing the straps.