Members of a riding school for the disabled have been left devastated after heartless thieves stole thousands of pounds worth of equipment.
Raiders smashed their way in through the front entrance of Rossington Hall Riding for the Disabled sometime overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday and took nine saddles, nine leather bridles, four Motorola walkie talkies, a safe containing £800 and a mobile phone.
Their haul is worth around £4000 and the charity - which provides horse riding lessons for disabled adults and children - will have to close down for about two weeks until they manage to replace the equipment.
Sandra Crabtree, group secretary and trustee, said: “We are all absolutely gutted. All of our members will be really upset that they will not be able to ride. Who would do such a thing as to target a charity? We rely on donations and can’t afford for things like this to happen.
“In addition to what it will cost to replace the equipment, we will lose out on about £200 worth of donations over the next couple of weeks while we are closed. But aside from the money aspect we are more upset that our members won’t be able to come here and ride for a while.”
Cleaners on their early morning shift discovered the break-in and notified trustees.
It is a hammer blow to the charity as members were preparing for a potential royal visit later this year. Due to security reasons specific details about the proposed visit cannot be reported.
But Mrs Crabtree, aged 58, of Edenthorpe, remained stoic and vowed that the group would be back in the saddle as soon as possible.
She said: “We will bounce back from this and not let them win. Once we have replaced things we will be back up and running. Our members rely on us and we will be back normal as soon as possible.”
She said that the charity has been broken into before when thieves stole eight winter rugs from the backs of horses, worth about £1000, a couple of years ago.
But added: “This is the first real break-in that I can remember. The bridles have different coloured handmade braids on the brow bands and the stirrups all have toe cups on. Also our brand new 5 Oceans numnahs are still attached to the saddles, so the items are quite unique.”
The school offers horse riding tuition to about 90 children and adults a week who have a range of conditions, including blindness, autism and Asperger’s syndrome. It has been based at the Northern Racing College, a specialist training college for the horse racing industry, since 1985.
The incident has been reported to South Yorkshire Police. Anyone with information should contact the force on 101.