Event rider Sarah Stretton’s yard has been wrecked by vandals, who smashed through gates, stables and fencing in a stolen tractor.
Sarah returned from Catton Park Horse Trials – where all three of her intermediate rides finished in the top five – to her base at Stretton-on-Dunsmore, Warwickshire, on Sunday evening (19 June).
She said: “We got home about 10pm, and had finished on the yard by 10.30pm. Some time later I got a call from my mother, who had been contacted by the police as she is the named owner of my land, telling me to go to the yard.
“We discovered someone had stolen a tractor with a sprayer attached to the back from a farm a few miles away.
“They had driven in through the locked front metal gates, through some wooden fencing, and then smashed it through the huge metal doors of the American barn.”
The doors were barely dented, but the hinges had sheared off and one of the doors – attached by one hinge – had fallen on to a stable with a horse in it.
There were four horses in the barn, and three in other stables outside, and a further 11 turned out.
“The horse was standing at the back of the stable – if that one hinge hadn’t held, it would have fallen right on top of the horse,” said Sarah, who believes the cost of the damage will run into thousands of pounds.
“They then drove the tractor across the barn and through the metal roller door at the other end. The exit was lower than the tractor and sprayer, so it had torn off the roller door and the top of the barn.”
The culprits had turned left and the long vehicle destroyed the side of the barn as it turned. They continued through a small paddock, smashing the fencing, through a 12ft metal gate and left back on to the drive.
“There was diesel and debris everywhere so the fuel pump of the tractor must have been wrecked, and they abandoned it by the gate with the lights on,” said Sarah.
“Someone locally heard some suspicious noises a while later, and the police came to check and came across the tractor and sprayer,” she said. “Nothing was taken at all – it was sheer vandalism.
“That’s the devastating bit – there was no reason for it. We have slowly built the yard up bit by bit as we could afford it – the roller doors were my Christmas present from my parents two years ago.
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“Someone did it for fun. We have done what temporary repairs we can and cleaned up all the glass, which was everywhere.
“Luckily all the horses are OK. I can’t imagine how awful the noise of that happening must have been for them.”
Sarah has been staying at the yard at night in her lorry with a friend, and says she will be installing CCTV linked to her phone.