Distraught animal lovers who have been looking after neglected horses were shocked to discover the whole herd has now disappeared completely.
Reports that the horses were removed in the middle of the night come after an RSPCA investigation into their wellbeing and warnings that owners may be prosecuted.
Newthorpe residents discovered over a week ago that the cavvy of 16 horses were being “fly-grazed” on disused land behind the old Ram pub on Dovecote Road, and were not being fed or watered.
The volunteers co-ordinated to feed them regularly and made regular reports to protection charities.
But on Friday, February 20 a local woman reported that eight of the 16 horses were being removed in a truck with markings for a horse trading firm.
Alison, from Beauvale, said: “The guys looked very tough. Their van said horses bought and sold and I think they were meat traders.”
On Monday 23, another report came in form the community that a lorry was taking the horses away.
Another concerned volunteer, Michael from Giltbrook, said that when he came to check on the remaining horses, they had all been removed.
Audrey Brock, 67 from Eastwood said: “I went straight over as soon as I heard that the lorry was there. By the time I got there all the horses were gone and no lorry in sight.
“I can’t begin to tell you how upset and devastated I feel.”
Anna Gregory, BHS welfare officer for Nottinghamshire said it is often the case that fly-grazing owners will move their horses if they are attracting attention.