Brazen thieves who stole some 20 bales of premium shavings from a Riding for the Disabled centre knew exactly what the charity’s work involves, according to the yard manager.

Vanessa Hook told H&H the thieves ripped out part of a barn wall at Arrow Riding Centre in Dartford, Kent, on Tuesday night (3-4 April) to take the Hunter bedding, worth some £200. There is no vehicular access to the barn, so all the bales must have been carried off the premises.

“We’re fairly sure the people who did it knew exactly what we’re trying to do here, but they still like to help themselves to our things,” Vanessa said, explaining that the centre caters for riders with special needs, and its current clients are aged between 18 months and 84 years.

“Any loss like this has a direct impact on being able to help people. We have to spend money on repairing and replacing things, and it’s also time spent away from what we should be doing.”

But, Vanessa added, the centre has been “overwhelmed” with the support shown by the public since it shared the news on social media on Wednesday, for which it said: “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts”.

“Our intention in writing that post was just to let local people know, in case they were offered any cheap Hunter shavings and to keep an eye out,” she said.

“But suddenly, there were so many people asking how they could donate to us; it makes you think there are still a lot of decent people out there.

Continues below…



Vanessa said the theft was bad timing as the centre had been on a high since Monday, when the British para team riders stayed there en route to compete in Europe, as they often do.

“It was really exciting as all the big names were here, with their beautiful horses, and the next thing this happened,” she said.

“But there are good people. Sometimes you feel they’re the minority but you get a lovely response like this and you realise they’re not, there’s still lots of them around.”

Donations can be made via the centre’s website.

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.