Intruders wipe out Furneux Pelham riding school for disabled
A horse riding school for the disabled near Bishop's Stortford has been forced to cancel classes after burglars raided its stables.
All 33 saddles at Brook Cottage Farm Riding School in Furneux Pelham were taken by the intruders, as were three harnesses for horse-drawn equipment.
The thieves also took cash from a float. They tried to take a dumper and a mini-digger, which are being used to create a driving track around the farm, but these had both been immobilised, although some of their windows were broken.
The team at the riding school, which is a part of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) network, discovered the break-in on Thursday morning (Jan 10).
They had closed the site the previous night at 8pm, having prepared it for disabled riders, aged four and over, who were looking forward to their first riding session of the new year on Thursday morning.
Leanne Eldrett, one of the yard managers, said: "They've completely smashed the place to pieces."
She said that the raiders had been especially brazen as there was an increased police presence in the village after a black Porsche 911 Carrera had been stolen the previous night.
"We're petrified they're going to come back and try to steal our horses," she said.
"We are a very small riding school, and it's just tragic. It's our world here."
Over the last three years, Brook Cottage Farm has been running weekly riding sessions for children and young people with developmental or physical disabilities.
The riders, aged 4 to 22, go there from one of four schools: Roger de Clare and Ralph Sadleir in Puckeridge, Bengeo Primary in Hertford and Middleton School in Ware.
St Elizabeth’s Centre in Perry Green – a school, college and home for people who have epilepsy and other complex needs – also sends groups to the school each week.
In September, HRH Princess Anne visited Brook Cottage Farm and watched a group of youngsters demonstrate what they had learned at the riding school. She also saw the preparations the group is making towards expanding sessions to offer carriage driving lessons for older riders.
If anyone is aware of anyone trying to sell saddles or harnesses, they should contact Hertfordshire Constabulary by dialling 101 or visiting the website. The crime reference number is 41/2883/19.