An equestrian charity that has been repeatedly targeted by thieves has been forced to look for new premises after a suspected arson attack.
The founder of Pukka Ponies, which is based near Maidstone in Kent, arrived at the rescue’s premises last Sunday (13 November) to find a storage building containing feed and equipment had been burned to the ground.
“We were so shocked,” said Sarah Daniell, founder of the registered charity.
“We’d gone to pick up some donated hay bales but when we got there, we found there was no building to put them in. It was carnage.
“We’ve lost all life’s little essentials – grooming kit, headcollars, spare rugs, wormers – things of no significant value, but which we used all the time.”
Kent Police has confirmed the fire is being investigated as suspected arson.
And Sarah told H&H this is not the first time the charity has been targeted.
“The first theft was about this time last year,” she said.
“We lost a huge amount of stuff, worth about £2,000, as they stole tack, equipment and a quad bike we used for poo-picking.
“Then having thought they’d wiped us out so they wouldn’t be back, we’d lose unopened bags of feed, which would be taken overnight.”
The most recent incident has proved the limit for Sarah, who is now looking for new premises.
“Every time we build it up, they smash it down again,” she said.
“We’re not closing but we are looking for temporary foster homes for the 22 horses we’ve got at the moment, to give us a breathing space.
“The problem here is that we’re so remote. There’s no neighbours close by, no mains electricity – we’re an easy target and I think this will happen again and again.”
A fundraising page set up since the attack has already raised more than £650, and Sarah has received offers of foster homes.
“There’s been a lovely response,” she said.
“It’s difficult for horse owners at this time of year but the number of people who have said they’ll squeeze one of ours in or do what they can is really nice.
“Our local feed store Lillicos has given us vouchers, as has Saracen feeds, so we can buy the feed and carry it round in the cars – we have to do that as we’ve got no other option.
“But we’re not closing, just relocating. There are too many horses here whose lives literally depend on us.”
Anyone who knows of suitable premises, with brick stables, secure buildings and turnout in the Maidstone area, should visit the charity’s website.
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A Kent Police spokesman said: “At present no arrests have been made, however enquiries are ongoing.
“Anyone who believes they may have information is asked to call Kent Police on 01622 604100 quoting YY/025360/16, or contact Kent Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.”