EAST BROOKFIELD (CBS) -- A pair of Appaloosa horses seemed a bit skittish as they romped around the Perry family farm in East Brookfield Monday – and who could blame them.
Both need stitches to close nasty gashes on their necks – which experts now suspect were inflicted by a bear.
"It could have been much worse than what it is," says horse owner Michele Perry.
Perry is talking about what she discovered after her horse "Ozzy" and a friend's horse named "Justin" spent Friday afternoon inside a fenced paddock.
"I'm like 'Oh my God'" she says. "It looked like a machete sliced him open."
Nobody saw the attack – just the result – requiring eight enormous stitches for Ozzy and four for Justin.
"It definitely looked bad," says Justin's owner Amanda Keyes. "We cleaned it out good while we waited for the vet. The vet stitched it up good."
At first, the owners blamed horse play gone overboard.
But the veterinarian and Environmental Police who examined the deep slice wounds both suspect a bear – a conclusion supported by partial bear tracks nearby.
Bears are certainly part of the landscape in the Podunk Road area of rural East Brookfield – with sightings often making the town website.
But never has there been an attack on thousand pound horses.
"We've had horses on this property for 40 years," says Perry, "and nothing has ever happened like this."
The experts believe a young bear may have been on its way to the chicken coop for an easy meal when it hopped into the paddock – startling the horses and vice-versa.
"But we got to keep a closer eye on what's going on around here," says Perry.
So, cameras have been set-up to stand watch – even though Perry doubts a return is in the offing.
"Thank God they made it through this and will be okay," she says with her arm around Ozzy's neck. "That's the biggest thing."
Had any of the Perry family witnessed the attack, Environmental Police say they would have had the legal right to shoot the bear.
At this time of year, many bears are active day and night.
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