THE RSPCA is hunting the sick individuals who dumped a horse so poorly and emaciated it could no longer stand in a south Essex park.

The piebald mare was found collapsed and unable to get up in Wick Country Park, in Wickford.

A vet found she was suffering from an intestinal problem and put her down to prevent further suffering.

RSPCA inspector Emily Cheeseman said: “I am used to coming across so many terrible equine cases in my job, but this really was one of the worst I have ever seen.

“This poor mare was all bones – so emaciated it was hard to give her any kind of body score. It was bitterly cold that night too, she must have been so uncomfortable.

“She collapsed when the member of the public who called us was with her, and then just could not get up again. The vet who attended said her heart was rocketing, a sign that she was in extreme pain.

“I felt just so sad seeing her there.

"It is simply unacceptable to leave an animal to suffer in that extreme way.”

The RSPCA, which can prosecute animal cruelty cases in court, is looking for information after a member of the public found the horse in an extremely weak state, lying in the road, unable to stand up or move, at about 8.30pm on Sunday, December 7.

Officers brought a vet, who said the kindest thing to do was put her to sleep to prevent further suffering.

Anyone with information about how the horse came to be in such a state can call the RSPCA on 0300 1238018.