With stolen tack on the increase, taking precautions is essential

According to PC Pete Shearer of West Mercia Constabulary there are two basic steps to preventing tack theft.

  • “One is to mark it so that it can be traced back to you and identified by a police office to the standard a court requires.
  • “The other is to keep it secure. The security of some of the tack rooms I see is only just above pathetic.”

    PC Shearer started his campaign after two burglaries in his area netted more than £5,000 worth of saddles on the same night.

    “I quickly found out that everyone in the horse world has either had tack stolen, or knows someone who has,”he says.

    “But I can’t believe the number of people who seem happy to ride around on £1,000 worth of equipment which, if it disappeared, they would have no hope of it being returned to them.

    PC Shearer recommends that all equipment should be marked with your postcode in a way that is immediately visible, but does not affect external appearance.

    Saddles are the most common target, and he recommends marking them on the underside of the sweat flap.

    “I use a three eighths of an inch (9mm) die stamp. Wet the leather first, and mark it by the seam where it doesn’t get worn. Wetting the leather softens it, and when it dries you get a pristine, clear mark.”

    Many Horsewatch groups and police forces organise tack stamping sessions; contact your local police station for information.

    Tack rooms should be kept locked when not in use. Check that the lock matches your insurance company’s requirement, as many stipulate that five-lever locks must be used.

    Burglar alarms and surveillance equipment may also deter thieves. “Anything which makes a thief’s job more difficult is worth doing,” says PC Shearer, “but the most important thing is to mark your tack.”

    His research shows that saddles rarely have more than three owners from new. If a marked saddle is sold, the original postcode should be scored through so it is still legible and the new one stamped below it.

    BETA (British Equestrian Trade Association) has negotiated special rates for its members on Datatag electronic ID tags and scanners.

    The tiny electronic tags have unique ID numbers and can be inserted into saddles; all Jeffries’ saddles are now sold with these in place.

    Most saddles have identification numbers stamped on the panels, which should also be recorded by retailers and purchasers.