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Q&A: “Borrowing” in livery yards

Q: I keep my seven-year-old part-Thoroughbred in working livery at a riding school. The yard is busy and sociable, but things go missing regularly and I have lost tack and grooming items.

I keep my tack box locked but cannot keep track of everything. Tack is also borrowed without permission. I don’t want to make a fuss as I have made many friends. What can I do?

Juliet Grayson BHSSM replies: I imagine you are not the only person suffering this problem. Unless you are accusing someone specifically of stealing your things, ask other people for their help.

You could get all the livery owners to meet to discuss how to resolve this. If you are all working together you won’t be making a fuss.

To put people off taking your equipment, mark everything. There are several ways to do this.

Mark nylon girths, headcollars and cloth numnahs by writing your name in indelible felt pen on the inside (unless it is black in which case you will need to sew on a name-tape — available from haberdashery shops).

If you want it to be obvious, you could buy a saddle cloth and sew your initials or horse’s name on the part that shows behind the saddle.

Leather tack (girths, headcollars, bridles, saddles) and wooden items of grooming kit can be ‘stamped’. In my area the crime prevention officer has a special stamp for marking leather; some tack shops also offer this service.

Mark the items with your house number (or the first two letters of the house name) and postcode.

For saddles, the police recommend marking the underside of the saddle flap, near the top. You can then identify the item if it is “borrowed” or, if it is stolen and sold at an auction, it can be traced back and returned to you.

You could also engrave the stirrup bar — kits can be purchased from most DIY shops.

Burning your initials, or carving them in three-inch high letters and filling with paint or bright nail varnish, is the clearest way to mark wooden items in a grooming kit.

For whips, paint part of it in a bright colour then attach a label with your name on around the top.

You could also invest in a saddle lock — there are several on the market.

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