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Were you given a snazzy rug for Christmas? Or a smart new saddle? Well, avoid putting it straight on to your horse or leaving it around the yard, warn insurers.

“Thieves are aware that people will have received presents and that some homes will have been unihabited over the Christmas period, which makes them more vulnerable,” said Nicki Whittaker from insurers NFU Mutual.

“It’s not unusual for rugs to be stolen directly off the backs of horses in the field or stable.”

During the winter when yards are dark and unattended, equine properties are prime targets.

“Taking tack home with you is one way of protecting it and making it harder for thieves to steal, but securing rugs is a little bit trickier,” said Ms Whittaker. “Painting your postcode or horse’s freeze mark on the side of your new rug, or even stitching the letters on, will make it less appealing.”

Garry Porter from HorseWatch Alliance echoed the warnings.

“As the season turns, traditionally rugs, feed and hay all tend to go,” he said. “If you get any nice, shiny Christmas presents make sure you mark them. We’re not saying in the new year all your stuff will disappear, but it’s worth being aware.”