Horse theft in the UK has risen and is continuing to rise, according to police and horsewatch groups, who are urging horse owners to take measures to fight it.

Around 10 horses were stolen nationally in August, representing a hike in numbers, according to Garry Porter of the National Horsewatch Alliance.

Between 12-15 August, three young coloured fillies were stolen from Somerset, a yearling cob from Telford and a 13.2hh children’s pony from the Thames Valley area.

H&H has also heard of two botched attempts at thefts during that period, including one in Biggleswade where one of two stolen ponies fell through the floor of a stolen trailer and had to be put down.

David Collings, Horsewatch coordinator for Hampshire, said: “The main targets are cobs and miniatures, as they are easier to pick up.”

But over 1-2 September a Belgian warmblood worth £4,000 was taken from a livery yard in Iver, Bucks.

Helen Evans from Thames Valley Horsewatch said the theft of a quality horse is unusual.

“They usually get found pretty quickly,” she added.

Mr Porter agreed, adding: “We’ve never seen so many young foals going, either.”

He also urged owners to take extra security measures.

He said: “We see property identification as the main weapon. Microchipping is unique, but it’s not visible — it’s much more difficult to steal and sell a freeze-marked horse.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (10 September, ’09)