‘Massive blow’ as Harden riding school hit by thieves

St Ives Equestrian Centre owner Nicki Whaites assesses damage caused by thieves during a raid on the Harden premises

St Ives Equestrian Centre owner Nicki Whaites assesses damage caused by thieves during a raid on the Harden premises

First published in News

Horse equipment valued at thousands of pounds has been stolen from a riding school leaving its owner to question how her business can recover.

The 18 saddles, 25 bridles and “every single piece of spare tack” were taken from St Ives Equestrian Centre in Harden, along with a horse box and £300 from an office safe.

Business owner Nicki Whaites said she was distraught when the theft and ransacking of her office was discovered early on Monday.

Thieves smashed their way into the tack room and stole the equipment before using tools they found to break into the office and safe. They then put their haul into a silver and blue horse box before making off in it.

Some of the items taken were of particular sentimental value to Miss Whaites, including a special reactor panel saddle that cost about £1,000.

“We’ve got an ex-racehorse who’s 20 years old, and it’s taken six months to get a saddle to fit him,” Miss Whaites said.

“They’re very difficult to come by second-hand, and a brand new one is £2,000 to £3,000.”

An expensive hand-made bridle from Germany, which has been used on Miss Whaites’s international showjumping horse, Ben, was also taken, along with his £1,000 saddle.

“It’s a massive haul for them,” said Miss Whaites, who added the equipment was not insured.

“I’m just gutted. I don’t know how we’re going to recover from this. It’s a massive, massive blow.”

The riding school runs pony clubs, hacks and lessons, and up to 15 children visit every day during the school holidays.

Fifteen children arrived at the centre on St Ives Estate, off Harden Road, on Monday expecting to ride ponies, meaning Miss Whaites had to scrabble to borrow tack.

But that was only a short-term solution as each animal needs a saddle adjusted to fit it. Replacing the items could cost up to £6,000.

Miss Whaites said: “We’re a really happy and fun place, and it’s devastating really, for the kids and for me.”

The theft, which also included girths, riding hats and stirrups, happened between 12.30am and 6.30am on Monday.

Sergeant Chris Watson, of the Bingley and Worth Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We believe this to be a targeted attack, and are appealing for anyone with any information to contact us about it.

Contact the Bingley and Worth NPT with any information on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Contact Miss Whaites on 07970 497352 if you can loan the club tack.

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