A Birmingham horse shelter that helps disabled and disadvantaged children has been plunged into crisis after cruel thieves stole its entire stock of tack.
More than 20 saddles, some costing £300, bridles and even four wheelbarrows were taken during the weekend raid on Summerfield Stables, Hall Green.
Now bosses have issued a desperate appeal for donations so children can once again ride the 20 horses – gathered from rescue centres or handed over to be re-trained.
Money raised will also be used to beef-up security.
With admirable restraint, stables teacher Georgina Urwin told the Birmingham Mail: “We’re pretty hacked-off.”
It is the first burglary at Summerfield – run entirely by volunteers – since it was launched by Georgina’s mother, Roslyn Tedd-Urwin, 43 year ago. The non-profit organisation is run on donations and is set to become a registered charity next year.
Helpers discovered stable-door locks had been smashed in on Saturday morning.
The community group encourages children of all backgrounds to interact with horses and is used by a number of disabled groups, including charity Kids West Midlands. It also provides a haven for youngsters from troubled homes.
Georgina, 24, said: “More than anything else, we want to warn other horse owners to be very careful. Luckily, none of our horses were hurt.”
Schoolgirl Ishpree Kaur has used the stables for four years. The 12-year-old was so upset by news of the break-in that she rang local stores asking for donations.
Mum Dalbir, from Hall Green, said: “She’s heartbroken – it’s like pulling the rug from under someone.
“Ishpree’s confidence has improved tremendously since she’s been at the stables. She mucks-out and grooms the horses.
“But it’s not just about my daughter. It’s about the people in the stables and the horses – they need exercising.”
On its website, Summerfield describes how its main aims are to increase children’s confidence and practical skills. It states: “We believe working with horses helps them to learn to follow instructions and to practice teamwork.
“The young people have a chance to develop leadership skills by helping others to learn and by organising activities for the younger age groups.
“We do not believe that a genuine lack of money should deny people access to horses. The experience for young people is very much like owning their own ponies, whilst at the same time learning to share them and help others.”
*Any reader who would like to help should contact www.summerfieldstables.com