Vandals have twice targeted a paddock created as part of a crackdown on unauthorised horse grazing.
The paddock was one of two opened at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea by Northumberland County Council late last year amid concerns over the number of horses grazing without permission or being illegally tethered in Newbiggin and nearby Ashington.
However, it was vandalised twice last week, with culprits cutting through wire fencing, causing the horses inside to get loose.
The council has had to spend £3,000 to date on rectifying the damage and last night said it was “very disappointed” at the attacks, given its work on unauthorised grazing.
The paddock, at Store Farm, Collingwood Road, opened in November.
Sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning, when there were 11 horses at the site, vandals struck for the first time.
Fencing was cut in a number of locations around the perimeter and within the holding pens.
A wooden stile gate was damaged, and three fence posts were removed.
Horses got loose from the site and ran towards the busy A189 Spine Road, with the council receiving “numerous reports” from the public.
Police were informed but on Sunday morning, vandals struck a second time, possibly in daylight.
Not all the animals had been returned to the site - due to their distressed state in two cases.
Extensive damage was caused to the perimeter fence, which was cut in numerous places to such an extent that it will need to be replaced rather than repaired.
Two sections of parallel fence belonging to the neighbouring landowner were also targeted.
The horses were once again free to run loose, requiring the attendance of police. A council spokeswoman said: “We are very disappointed at these incidents of vandalism.
“We have worked very hard to provide these paddocks for horse owners and were making great progress with addressing the horse-tethering problems in the county.”
Police are investigating and anyone with information on the damage is asked to contact them on 101, ext 69191, or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.