Laid-back mare turns ‘guard horse’ to disrupt potential burglary

A laid-back mare who turned “guard horse” saved the day when she disrupted a potential burglary at a garden centre.

Becky Markillie from South Doncaster was awoken at 1am on 27 August by a commotion coming from her stables.

Becky told H&H her seven-year-old Irish draught mare Niamh, on whom she had taken part in the Shelford Manor BE90 the previous day, was in the stable overnight, along with 31-year-old former eventer Gem.

“I got woken up by lots of banging and snorting,” she said. “I checked my stable camera and could see Niamh kicking the door and spinning round.”

Becky and her partner Simon Bourne went to investigate.

“Niamh is so laid-back and quiet; we never hear anything from her overnight, she spends her entire time sleeping. I’ve got videos of her lying flat-out with her legs going; it’s like she’s taking herself eventing in her sleep,” said Becky.

“I assumed it must have been a cat stuck somewhere but Simon went down the field with a torch to check. He thought I was coming behind him but when he turned round there were three men wearing balaclavas and carrying crowbars coming out of the garden centre behind our property.”

“The men said to Simon ‘you all right, mate’ and when he asked what they were doing they said they had been looking for quad bike tracks. They apologised, walked off, climbed over some fencing and got on quad bikes parked in my neighbour’s field, which we hadn’t spotted before.”

Becky said she believes Niamh heard the men attempting to break in to the garden centre. She notified the police and spoke to staff at the garden centre the next day.

“When we looked back through the camera, Niamh had been snorting for about 15 minutes so we think she heard them start to open the building. We had heard a truck at the other side of the house but it drove off – we guess the men were there to open up the building and the truck was there to take the goods,” she said.

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“I spoke to a member of staff and they were very relieved and grateful to Niamh for being a guard-horse and alerting everybody. Even in thunderstorms Niamh will stand and eat her hay so it was surprising to hear her making a noise, she definitely knew that something was different and could hear the voices and quad bikes.”

Becky, who writes about Niamh and Gem’s “adventures” on her Silver Breeze Eventing social media pages, said Niamh was rewarded the next day.

“She ate all my sloes in the field which I had planned to pick to make sloe gin so she has treated herself – which is now proving a problem for my gin!”

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