Dying foal left in Chesterfield by 'despicable' gang
A horse charity has said a foal that was dumped "like rubbish" and left to die may be linked to eight other abandoned horses earlier in the year.
Help for Horses said it is braced for more of the animals being abandoned by the same "despicable" people.
It has asked for vigilance after the foal was left in a stable on land off Staveley Road, in Duckmanton, near Chesterfield, on 16 May.
It comes as the RSPCA reported an increase in equine cruelty convictions.
The charity said the foal was probably born with an infection and as treatment was never sought, its health deteriorated quickly and had to be put down.
Vet Janice Dixon, of Help for Horses, said she believes it was probably related to the horses that were dumped in Nottinghamshire in the space of a month - one of which died after being thrown out of a trailer on a road.
In another case, in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, a landowner said she was bullied by a gang which left one of the animals on her field.
Ms Dixon, who has appealed for the public to be vigilant, said: "A small percentage of horse owners are despicable lowlifes [and] it's the same offenders time and time again."
The vet added she believes they are linked because the animals all have piebald patterning.
She also said some of those previously dumped were suffering from the same stomach disease.
The RSPCA, which receives about 80 calls a day on its cruelty line regarding horses, has reported another increase in equine cruelty convictions across England and Wales.
Figures for 2018 show there were 264 convictions related to horses, compared to 225 in 2017 and 215 in 2016.
Derbyshire Police said they attended the scene in Duckmanton, but the RSPCA is leading the investigation.
Nottinghamshire Police are still investigating other incidents in Blidworth and Kirkby-in-Ashfield, on 14 February and 7 March.
A force spokesman said it was "painting an intelligence picture of what is happening within the community".