A Satanic cult is suspected of being behind the grisly death of a pony, found mutilated on Dartmoor after a full moon.

Police have appealed for the public's help after the the two month old pony was found dead on moorland at Yennadon Down, Dousland Yelverton by a horse rider at around 6.50pm on Tuesday.

A police spokesman said that the pony appeared to have been "deliberately mutilated" and officers are investigating the possibility that the body had been left in "some kind of ritualistic way."

The young male had its genitals, right ear and tongue sliced off, and eyes gouged out, its belly hacked open and had traces of white paint on one of its legs.

It was also surrounded by circular patches of burnt moorland, raising questions about a ritual taking place.

Inspector Andy Oliver from West Devon Police said: “This was a particularly nasty and distressing incident. Someone will know who is responsible. This behaviour is bizarre and of concern and I would ask anyone with information concerning the incident to contact the police.”

There have been three other reports of similar attacks on horses/ponies across Devon and Cornwall in the last 12 months.

Police are working with the RSPCA, Dartmoor Livestock Protection Officer and South West Equine Protection to investigate this offence.

Anyone who was in the area of Iron Mine Lane between Sunday and Tuesday evening or who has any information about the incident is asked to call police on 101 quoting log 918 of 23/07/13 or Crimsteoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.