These shocking pictures show a prize pony - thought to have been inflicted by a homemade crossbow.

Vets initially assessed that Wedi had suffered an accidental injury - such as being kicked by another horse.

But it was only when the animal's condition took a turn for the worse and she was taken to hospital that a scan revealed the true nature of her injuries.

Despite a small cut on her head, the scan revealed a wooden object buried deep - some distance from the original entry wound.

Police have since been informed and are encouraging anyone with information to get in touch.

Both vets and officers told the owners - schoolboy John Howard, 11, and his family - that the object appeared to have been deliberately sharpened at one end.

They added that it looks like Wedi - officially known as Private Expresso - had been injured by a homemade crossbow arrow, spear or javelin.

The pony was injured in a field in Ross-on-Wye last month (April 18).

Hannah Tolley, John's sister-in-law, said: "After a risky but successful operation the object was removed.

"It had entered at the front of her head near the base of her ear which was the only wound-slash-cut she had and it had travelled down into her neck.

"It narrowly missed her brain and also just missed her main artery. The vet said she is lucky to be alive.

"As well as the operation site and entry point she had to have drainage incision holes made in her neck to allow the pus and gases due to the dead tissue that had built up around the object to drain, so she now has a large area of dead skin on her neck aswell.

"She is still in the very early stages of recovery and needed constant surveillance, it will be a very very long road to recovery.

"Unfortunately as no one was there at the time of the injury we cannot be certain of how it was sustained.

"John is a keen rider - he loves dressage and would like to go far with it. His idols are Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin.

"He was hoping to continue progressing with dressage with Wedi before the injury stuck."