The RSPCA is appealing for information after a horse was found suffering from such severe flystrike that maggots covered 20% of his body.


A member of the public spotted the horse – described as a piebald Cob-type gelding – on land just off Stranglands Lane, Knottingley on Tuesday 8 October.Horse with flystrike in Knottingley © RSPCA


A vet was called to the scene and after a thorough inspection decided the most humane thing to do was to put the horse to sleep.


Flystrike occurs when certain species of fly lay their eggs on another animal. The eggs hatch into maggots that then begin to eat the animal’s flesh. Flies are attracted by soiled or wet fur/fleece, often around the animal’s rear end but any area of the body can be affected, as can any wound, cut or scratch.


RSPCA inspector Ben Cassell said: “It was really grim. There were maggots literally dropping off this poor horse.


“We think it probably started with an injury to his back left leg, which was very badly swollen, but the damage done by the maggots made it difficult to be sure.


Close-up of horse with flystrike in Knottingley © RSPCA“They were literally eating him alive. He was suffering a great deal.”


It’s thought someone must have broken down a fence to graze him on the land, which it’s believed is owned by the Highways Agency.


Anyone who knows who the horse belongs to is asked to get in touch with inspector Cassell by calling the RSPCA cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 and asking to leave a message for him.


“Horses should be checked over at least once a day and any nicks or grazes treated to prevent this from happening and of course vet treatment should be sought immediately,” said inspector Cassell.


For more information on flystrike visit


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