It can be unbelievably distressing if your horse is stolen, especially if it is never found. Sometimes stolen horses are recovered at a later date but many are never found. Horse thefts are rarely opportunistic crimes. The horses are usually targeted and the person who seeks them out may not be the individual who returns to remove them from their paddocks. This means that either the horse or the field are marked in some way to identify them. Are there any signs that your horse has been targeted which are worth looking out for?
Mysterious plaited manes
A recent incident in Gloucestershire is a good case in point. The police were contacted by a resident of the north Cotswolds who had discovered that their horse's main had been plaited during the night. This could have been just a prank or an innocent bit of fun but the police had previously dealt with cases where horses' manes had been plaited prior to their theft. They believe that this is one of the tricks that thieves use to identify the horse they have targeted. But the manes usually only feature a single plait or subtle changes. All of the Gloucestershire horse's mane had been beautifully plaited and so this incident was more likely to have been a prank. Some people believe that the manes can be plaited as part of a Pagan ritual.
Other signs to look out for
Piles of ash by the paddock gate, a bag tied to the gate or markings on the road could also be signs that your horse or horses have been targeted for theft.
As thieves may be looking to sell the horses that they steal, it is best to microchip or freeze brandyour horse to identify it. Your chances of recovering the horse will be much better and thieves would be less interested in a marked horse in the first place. Always display signs warning that your horses are chipped or branded. Keep the documents relating to your horse up to date and consider how you can enhance the security of your paddock. Thefts can and do take place during daylight hours but many occur at night. A floodlight with a motion sensor could be located at the gate of the field and you should upgrade the locks on your gate. Anti-lift locks are a great investment and you should ensure that there are no weak spots or broken sections in your fencing. Always keep an eye out for strangers hanging around near your paddock or watching the horses. Make a mental note of what they look like. Record the number plate of their vehicle if they have one. Thieves may be monitoring your routine so it's a good idea to change it as often as you can. Thankfully, horse thefts are not daily occurrences but they do happen and so it is best to do everything you can to prevent your treasured horse from becoming a target.