A horse who was stolen while on loan as a companion six years ago — and whose plight was featured in H&H — has finally been reunited with his owner, after his photograph was spotted on Facebook.
Oscar, a 24-year-old Irish draught-thoroughbred, was returned to Alexis Jacobson on 25 May, following a civil trial at the end of April. He had been bought by Nicole Caulfield, in good faith, from her local riding school in Kent.
On 26 April, after a two-day hearing, the district recorder sitting at Brighton County Court granted an injunction for his return, after finding that the horse still belonged to Alexis Jacobson.
“It feels surreal to have him back,” Miss Jacobson, from north-west London, told H&H. “He had disappeared off the face of the earth. It is incredible and nice to know he’ll be happy and live out his days in retirement.”
Oscar has now been retired to a local farm.
The chestnut gelding was loaned as a companion to a woman in Essex in 2007, after being diagnosed with kissing spine. Within weeks of sending him off, Miss Jacobson grew suspicious and realised she had been duped.
The theft was reported to the police and featured in an H&H news article, “Sold-on-loan scam exposed” (12 July 2007). But Oscar had disappeared.
Miss Jacobson continued advertising and posting on equestrian forums. In February 2011, via a tip-off on Facebook, she tracked him down to a livery yard in Kent.
Her enquiries revealed that Oscar, now called Syd, had been given a new passport and sold to White Horse Riding Centre in Harvel — which is no longer trading — in February 2008. He was then bought by one of the riding school’s clients, Mrs Caulfield, for £4,000 the following month.
Miss Jacobson was concerned that Oscar — now aged 22 — was still being ridden and offered to refund Mrs Caulfield the purchase price. But she decided to contest the claim.
“He was my baby,” Mrs Caulfield told H&H. “It is horrific. I am an innocent party in this and have lost my beloved horse. This has cost me £6,000 and £10,000 of costs have been awarded against us.”
Solicitor Belinda Walkinshaw, who represented Miss Jacobson, said “justice demanded that Oscar be returned” to her clients.
“He had been part of their family since Alexis was 15,” she told H&H.
The case demonstrated the ease with which horse passports can be obtained — and the importance of thoroughly checking the credentials of any potential loan home, added Mrs Walkinshaw.
A woman was arrested in 2007 over the disappearance of Oscar and three other horses sold on loan, but the Crown Prosecution Service found insufficient evidence to prosecute.
- This news story was first published in H&H magazine, 13 June 2013 issue