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Police in West Sussex are warning horse owners to keep a close eye on their horses.

The warning comes after a number of mares and foals were stolen in the Horsham area.

Police have confirmed that 4 horses and a lorry were stolen overnight from Cowfold last week. H&H has also received reports of several more thefts of mares and foals in the area — as uncorroborated by police.

Esther Nash Smith owns 3 of the horses taken overnight on Wednesday 30 July. The horses — mares with foals at foot — were taken some time between 7pm on 30 July and 7am on Thursday, 31 July.

“I had two big German Shepherds guarding the yard, running loose, but they’re crawling around on their bellies, terrified,” Ms Nash Smith said.

“They loaded the horses into my lorry, which was found burnt out the next day in Surrey. I’m sick, and I’m scared.”

The horse owner told H&H that the mares taken were in a field with geldings — so she believes the thieves are looking for mares with foals at foot.

Police have confirmed the lorry that was likely to have transported the horses away was found abandoned and destroyed by fire in Haxted, Surrey.

A police spokesman said: “Forensically trained officers have attended the scene. We are urging the equestrian community to be vigilant.”

H&H has received reports of other mares and foals being rustled in the area, but have been unable to confirm yet with police.

Ways to improve your security:

• Freeze-mark and microchip horses
• Secure field perimeters and padlocking both ends of a gate
• Leave horses in fields without head collars
• Put up signs on gates stating horses and tack are marked and can be identified
• Keep a detailed description of your horse including photographs of both sides of the horse and one of its head