Equine charity the victim of second suspected arson attack

  • An equine rescue charity has been targeted by arsonists for the second time in a week.

    Pukka Ponies, which is based near Maidstone in Kent, has been subject to a string of attacks that began with a theft last December.

    Last week, the registered charity’s founder Sarah Daniell announced she would be forced to look for new premises after a storage building containing feed and equipment was burned to the ground.

    Then on Saturday night (19 November) a further building divided into two stables was set on fire — although fortunately no horses were harmed.

    “I was at work and checked my phone and I had 12 missed calls and four voicemails. One was from a lady in a property that looks down across the field and she told me there were 10ft flames soaring from the stabling area and that I needed to get there as quickly as I could,” Sarah said.

    “It was 9pm at night and I hadn’t left the yard until 5pm.

    “I thought after last week they’d have done their thing and walked away but they came back for a second go.”

    Sarah said they were still “none the wiser” about who was behind the suspected arson attacks, although police are investigating.

    The charity lost nearly £2,000 of equipment in the theft last December, while the fire last week destroyed many of “life’s little essentials — grooming kit, headcollars, spare rugs and wormers”.

    In the wake of the attacks, Sarah has been focused on finding temporary foster homes for the charity’s 22 horses and ponies while she looks for a new base.

    “We’ve already had enough applications,” she revealed. “If they all check out then hopefully they will all be rehomed in the next two weeks.

    “We will need to find somewhere new before the three months of foster are up — although I am sure some people will fall in love with them and keep them, which would be nice for the horses.”

    Sarah told H&H she had already faced some “resistance” while looking for an alternative property as people feared their land might also be targeted.

    “I’ve even been told by the livery yard where I keep my own horse that I need to move by the weekend as they are worried I will be targeted there as well,” she said.

    A Justgiving appeal in the wake of the incidents has so far raised almost £2,000 , but a grateful Sarah said she is not looking for donations of equipment until after a new site is found.

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    “The biggest thing for us at the moment is finding somewhere to go — originally we were looking for a field as we thought we could move the buildings with us but now we will need some storage as well,” she said.

    “We’ve had some security firms offer equipment to us and that will be one of the first things we put in, as well as secure perimeter fencing. It will cost but will be worth it in the long run.”

    Anyone with information can call police on 01622 604100, quoting crime reference YY/025952/16, or Kent Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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