Police are investigating the murder of a Friesian stallion called Eric that had an eye gouged out, teeth removed and his genitalia sliced off.

A local in Stithians, near Falmouth, Cornwall, apparently told The Sun newspaper: “There is talk that the horse was sedated and then attacked in a ritualistic way.”

A mare and a foal in the same field were unharmed in the attack between 4pm on Sunday and midday on Monday, according to the red top.

Owner Dawn Jewell, who breeds horses, told the tabloid that she suspects Eric was stunned with a Taser gun before the attack, after finding two puncture wounds 3cm apart on his neck.

She said: “He was a big strong horse — they must have used something to subdue him.”

Detective Inspector Tony Blatchford told The Sun: “This is a particularly sickening crime. I’d ask all horse and livestock owners to be vigilant.”