Horse equipment valued at thousands of pounds has been stolen from a riding school leaving its owner to question how her business can recover.

The 18 saddles and 25 bridles and “every single piece of spare tack” were taken overnight from St Ives Equestrian Centre, along with a horse box and £300 from an office safe.

Business owner Nicki Whaites said she was distraught when the theft and ransacking of her office was discovered early yesterday.

Thieves smashed their way into the tack room and stole the equipment before using tools they found to break into the office and safe. They then put their haul into a silver and blue horse box before making off in it.

Some of the items taken were of particular sentimental value to Miss Whaites, including a special reactor panel saddle which cost about £1,000.

“We’ve got an ex-race horse who’s 20 years old and it’s taken six months to get a saddle to fit him,” Miss Whaites said.

“They’re very difficult to come by second-hand and a brand new one is £2,000 to £3,000.”

An expensive hand-made bridle from Germany which has been used on Miss Whaites’ international showjumping horse, Ben, was also taken along with his £1,000 saddle.

“It’s a massive haul for them,” said Miss Whaites, who added the equipment was not insured.

“I’m just gutted. I don’t know how we’re going to recover from this. It’s a massive, massive blow.”

The riding school runs pony clubs, hacks and lessons and up to 15 children visit every day over the school holidays.

“It couldn’t be timed any worse with it being half-term,” Miss Whaites said.

Fifteen children arrived at the centre on St Ives Estate, off Harden Road, Bingley, yesterday expecting to ride ponies, meaning Miss Whaites had to scrabble to borrow tack.

But that was only a short-term solution as each animal needs a saddle adjusted to fit it. Replacing the items could cost up to £6,000.

“Each saddle needs fitting for the horse – it’s not just like putting a jacket on,” Miss Whaites said, adding that poor-fitting saddles could damage the animals.

“We’re a really happy and fun place and it’s devastating really for the kids and for me.”

The theft, which also included girths, riding hats and stirrups, happened between 12.30am and 6.30am yesterday.

Sergeant Chris Watson, of the Bingley and Worth Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We believe this to be a targeted attack and are appealing for anyone with any information to contact us about it.

“The thieves would have spent some time at the site, as they damaged the gates to get in and out, as well as the entrance door to an office.

“We also believe that due to the site’s remote location, the offenders would have used a vehicle to get there and would be interested to hear from anyone who witnessed a vehicle acting suspiciously in the area in the hours leading up to the crime.

“Members of our Horsewatch scheme have been alerted to the incident and what has been stolen, but we would ask anyone who is contacted about buying reduced price riding equipment or who becomes aware of people selling it to contact the Bingley and Worth NPT on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”

  • Anyone who can loan the club tack can contact Miss Whaites on 07970 497352.