A dangerous dog attacked a horse and rider last week causing the horse to bolt across a road where it was hit by a car and sustained fatal injuries.

The attack happened at 6pm on Horton Lane, Epsom, on Thursday (March 29) when the horse, carrying its owner Beth Oakes, was walking along a bridle path near to the road.

An Irish Staffordshire Terrier, not on a lead, repeatedly bit the horse on the stomach causing it to flee in panic onto the road where it was hit.

The horse, believed to be a 20-year-old named Tango, was so badly injured that it had to be put down at the scene.

Police seized the dog, which was later put down. Under the Dangerous Dogs Act, pit bull terriers are banned in the UK, and this type of dog may include Irish Staffordshire Terriers.

Both Miss Oakes, in her 20s, and the car driver, were uninjured, with only minor damage being caused to the car.

Miss Oakes kept her horse at the Horton Farm Livery on Hook Road.

Seymour Bourne, owner of the livery, went to see it at Horton Lane before it was put down. He said the horse had broken its front leg and its shoulder.

He said: "Beth was riding her horse in Horton Country Park and a dog attacked it and bit it quite badly and the horse took off - it galloped across the crossing and was hit by a car.

"The horse was put down on the spot. The dog was an Irish Staffordshire Terrier there are quite a lot of them around here now.

"They tear the flesh off because their jaws lock when they bite. The dog made quite a mess of the horse - it must have had half a dozen bites on it. It was very upsetting to see."

The 69-year-old said dog owners must take more responsibility when out with their dogs.

He said: "Several horses have been chased whilst riding in Horton County Park and it is not a good experience to be chased by a dog hanging off your horse’s tail.

"Dogs should be kept under the control of the owner. The owner was in a mobility scooter and had no control over it at all. There are notices up in the park saying dogs should be kept under control at all times.

"The fault here lies mostly with the dog owner because if they have a dog which is going to chase things they should put it on a lead.

"Rangers could police the park a bit more than they do. Services are being cut all the time and everybody pays more, but I would not blame the incident on the rangers."

But, a spokesman for Epsom and Ewell Council said the number of rangers had not been cut.

He said: "There is a ranger presence at the beginning and end of every day, this is usually limited to the area around the buildings and car park.

"On a weekly basis, a full patrol and site inspection is carried out of the entire area. Rangers also provide a rapid response system to attend to any park and open space in the borough as requested.

"Rangers engage in education campaigns such as safe cycling and responsible dog ownership as well as other anti-social that that may be found on our patrols."

Horton Country Park is a local nature reserve governed by bylaws.

The spokesman said: "In addition to the bylaws, Epsom and Ewell Borough Council are keen to promote responsible dog ownership and dogs should be kept under control as governed by law."

He added: "The council has not been contacted by any of the parties involved in this incident and so I cannot comment on the specific circumstances in this case."

Under the Dangerous Dogs Act, a person found guilty of having a dog which is out of control can be fined up to £1,000, be imprisoned, or be banned from owning a dog in the future.

A police spokesman said they were unable to comment further about what action had been taken against the dog owner.

She said: "Officers are still speaking with witnesses and those people directly involved in the incident to come to an agreement about what action should be taken."