An international show jumper was found slaughtered on a farm in Florida over the weekend. The authorities are investigating whether the horse was butchered for its meat.
The carcass of the horse, Phedras de Blondel, was discovered in a remote pasture on the Imperial Farms Equestrian Center grounds in Palmetto early Sunday. The animal had been carved into pieces that appeared to be the work of a knowledgeable butcher.
Phedras de Blondel belonged to a top American equestrian, Deborah H. Stephens. A statement from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said that the incident was believed to have happened between 8 p.m. on Saturday and 7 a.m. the next day.
The statement said the horse had been stolen from his stall, which was a structure attached to Ms. Stephens’s house.
As the team looked for the animal for feeding on Sunday, a worker at the farm discovered the dismembered horse in a remote, wooded part of the farm.
“They came here with a mission,” said Steve Stephens, the owner’s husband, in televised remarks on Sunday.
“They came with the right tools to do what they wanted to do,” he said. “All four legs were cut off of him. I don’t mean at the knee. I mean from the shoulder. They just left his rib cage, his neck and head.”
It is illegal to slaughter horses for meat in Florida, said David Bristow, a spokesman for the sheriff’s department, in an interview on Monday. He said that there had been incidents recently in which horses were stolen and then slaughtered for their meat in Palm Beach County.
In the more rural Manatee County, cows had been rustled and slaughtered for meat but this was the first time Mr. Bristow could recall that a horse had been butchered there.
Mr. Bristow said that it was not clear if the farm had been targeted. The sheriff’s incident report said the crime was being treated on occupied burglary, grand theft and cruelty to animal charges.
The horse was 12 years old and had just been purchased from Germany and flown into the United States last Friday, just days before he was killed, according to a report in The Bradenton Herald.
Ms. Stephens is an acclaimed Grand Prix show jumping competitor. In a career that has spanned decades, she is known for setting an outdoor high jump record of 7 feet 8 inches in 1983.