The Essex Horse and Pony Protection Society is appealing for help in tracing two of its rescue horses stolen from a field in Pitsea.

Deborah Heapey, who runs the charity, is desperate to trace the two geldings that disappeared from their field sometime between Tuesday evening (9 April) and Thursday (11 April).

Lily, a Thoroughbred who is heavily in foal was also stolen, but found later the same day after an anonymous tip-off.

Monet (pictured), is a 13.3hh, three-year-old chestnut gelding with a white blaze, four white socks and long feathers. He is described as “very hairy, with a coat which is silky not coarse”. Monet has a flaxen mane and tail with strawberry roan tones and his whole belly is nearly white.

The sanctuary says that although he has a very cuddly nature, Monet has a fear of gates and is very nervous and jumpy. He does not like dogs and will be aggressive if approached by one.

Chukie is a seven-year-old 13.3hh gelding who is described as “very friendly”. He has a hogged forelock, which wascut off in a unrelated incident and his mane and tail are thick.

All three were kept in large field, rented by the charity along with about 50 other horses. Staff discovered the horses were missing after doing a routine head count and, on further investigation, discovered that thieves had cut through fencing to get the horses out.

Police believe that the horses were led along the side of a railway track, across two fields and out onto a dead-end road before being loaded into a vehicle and taken away.

“Lily was found nearby after a woman rang and told us where she was,” says Deborah. “Much to our relief she foaled successfully on Saturday so it was lucky we got her back when we did.

“We have no idea where the other two are, or who has taken them and we are desperate to find them. They came to us as separate rescue cases, Chukie was found abandoned on wasteground in May 2000, while Monet was found running loose along the A13.

“This theft has heightened our awareness for security and we have launched an appeal to raise funds to freezemark all 80 of our horses.”

PC Andy Copey from Essex police said: “We are taking this theft very seriously, especially as a charity organisation trying to improve the lives of horses has been targeted. We are pleased that one of the horses has been found safe and well, but would urge anyone with any other information to contact Essex Police as soon as possible.”

A spokesperson from Horsewatch said: “Since January six geldings have been stolen in this area – whether they are being stolen to order I don’t know. I cannot stress how important it is to freezemark your horse in order to deter thieves.”

Anyone with any information should contact Essex Police (tel: 01268 532212) or to help the Essex Horse and Pony Protection Society with their appeal visit: www.ehpps.org