Family appeal for information after �15k equine equipment theft

THE fledgling career of a teenage show jumper has been halted after thieves stole �15,000 worth of horse riding equipment.

Amber Stafford, 18, from Little Canfield, went out to feed her horses on Friday morning, only to find the tack room had been completely ransacked and the equipment gone.

Her mother, Tracy, said: “My daughter broke her back and neck in June, which understandably shook her up, and she was just getting back to riding and jumping and this is what happens.

“It’s horrible – my daughter has been in tears since it happened. She is devastated.”

The thieves broke into the outbuilding overnight on Thursday before making off with specialist saddles and bridals, as well as massaging and cleaning equipment that the family had collected over many years.

“It’s not somewhere you would think to look for show jumping equipment, especially for the amount of stuff we have,” said Mrs Stafford.

“None of the equipment was insured because it was in stored in an outbuilding.

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“Clearing somewhere out before Christmas is just a horrible thing to do. We can’t afford to replace even a quarter of the things that were stolen.”

For Amber’s career it could be potentially damaging, with another lengthy set back expected before she can compete again.

She has recently begun a four-year part-time university course, instead of three years, so she can spend more time at home riding her horses and realising her ambition of becoming a professional show jumper.

“My daughter is a senior show jumper but we haven’t even got a saddle or a bridal now, and we can’t do anything without it,” said her mum.

“We have been begging and borrowing but all the equipment we had was tailor made for the horses so putting an unfitted saddle on their backs is not ideal. We had separate tack for each horse which included separate show gear.

“We had got them up to readiness for a competition and now we won’t be able to keep them up to that level because they can’t be worked everyday so they will lose fitness. It’ll continue to be a downward spiral from there.

“Amber can’t even get on the horse because she has nothing left. All the stuff is so specialist and I want it all back.”

Crime reduction officer for Uttlesford Peter Caulfield said: “We do not see much equine crime in the district, although it is a problem across the country.

“What we would suggest is that anybody who has horse tack in an outbuilding or away from their home should get it ID stamped.

“Also we recommend joining the Essex Horse Watch so you can find out how to looking after horses, tack and boxes properly. The website also gives details of crimes that we think are helpful for people to know.”

Anyone with information about this crime should contact Dunmow police station on 0300 333 4444 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.