A RIDING instructor was left terrified after being attacked in her own garden by a suspected horse rustler.

Jan Archer, 45, of Holland Road, Little Clacton, rushed to the aid of her 3ft-tall pony, called Tiny, after hearing him whinnying in fear.

The self-employed instructor was hit in the face and knocked to the ground, suffering major bruising and facial injuries.

“I heard a noise outside and could hear Tiny in distress,” said Mrs Archer, who has owned the miniature stallion for two months.

“I took a couple of steps outside and saw an enormous man in my garden trying to open the gate to the field.

“I was scared to death, but I shouted at him and then the next thing I felt was intense pain in my face and I hit the floor."

Officers arrived on the scene within five minutes and conducted an area search for the suspect, but found no trace.

Tiny was unsettled following the attempted theft, but was otherwise fine.

Anyone with information about the incident, which happened shortly before 1am on Sunday, should call Clacton police on 101.