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Q: I have been involved in equestrianism for 50 years and am horrified when I read stories about ponies being “doped” or attacked by vengeful competitors.

What is happening to this industry — do we need to employ security guards for our horses?
ML, Essex

Sadly, the equestrian community is at risk from the common crimes of theft and vandalism and, with horses and equipment worth many thousands of pounds, criminals are known to target equestrian events.

The matter of purposely doping competitors’ horses is thankfully not seen on a large scale at amateur levels, although the issue of “doping” is a wide and complex one that the industry is addressing.

Horse owners must be vigilant in protecting their horses and their equipment. The days of leaving horseboxes open at shows and trusting the neighbouring lorry owners to “keep an eye on” our property or animals, have long gone.

David Gadsby, managing director of Atticus Risk Management, which for the second year running provided security services at this year’s Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, says that while doping is a significant issue, there are many other forms of crime evolving.

“People must be vigilant, whether they are competing, leaving their horses at event stables, parking their vehicles, storing their tack, or even travelling,” he said.

Atticus offers the following tips to competitors:

• Carry prescriptions for veterinary medicines.

• At rest stops, leave someone with the vehicle; lock unattended vehicles.

• Keep valuables out of sight.

• Competitors and grooms may be given identification for stabling areas; don’t let anyone else use your badge.

• Fit an alarm or similar security device to your lorry or tack locker, or consider removing important items such as saddles to a more secure location overnight. Basic alarms can be purchased online relatively cheaply and fitted at home.

• Don’t be frightened to challenge people taking an undue interest in your horse or vehicle.

• Don’t leave spare keys on the top of tyres, or in the exhaust pipe; thieves check there first.

• For those wishing to take the precaution of providing event security for their animals, David says most disciplines are playing catch-up with the bloodstock industry, where strict security is the norm.

“Employing security personnel to guard horses might seem expensive, but in relation to producing a horse for competition, the cost is negligible,” he said.

Information

Atticus has produced a free leaflet offering security advice to horse owners competing away from home.

Email info@atticusrisk.com

Tel: 01296 715470

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (3 December, ’09)

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