Horse owners are appealing to the public to be on the look out after a spate of sinister incidents involving their animals.
From ponies being deliberately let out of fields leading to road accidents; to strange phone calls and even snares being found, the rise of unpleasant incidents is a growing concern for island equestrians.
They are now hoping to enlist the support of the wider community and are urging everyone to keep an eye out for anyone acting suspiciously near horses and report it to the police.
Amongst the close knit equestrian community, there is a huge amount of discussion on the subject and the belief is that the incidents are likely to be related and are indeed malicious.
Mairi Nicolson from Stornoway says her horse three year old Ozzy and his companion seven year old Daliah have been left traumatised after they were involved in a car accident in January after they were mysteriously let out of their field.
She explained that on the day of the incident she and her friend had fed the horses in the afternoon and left them with hay to eat. Normally it would have been difficult to drive them away from food but she believes they must have been frightened enough to head in the opposite direction and on to the busy road where they were hit by a car.
“The horses and the driver were very very lucky and were all in a state of shock,” she said. “One horse needed nearly three months box rest and many visits from the vet and the other one was very lucky he didn’t lose his eye.” She said it had been a long process to get them back to health and had left both horses ‘very jumpy’ near traffic whereas before both had been very calm.
She says horse and pony owners are now struggling to keep their horses secure.
“We have moved the horses while this is going on around the islands but where is safe?” she asked. “Padlocks are a must, even CCTV. It is very sad to think this is happening on island where the horse community is getting larger.”
She and other horse owners are extremely concerned about the incidents of horses being let out deliberately and fear this could lead to further road accidents.
Fellow horse owners Chanelle Divers and Shona Nicholson have also had their horses let out or electric fences turned off and they both agree it is a huge worry for everyone.
Equestrian Sophie Davies said they hoped that if the community could watch out for anything suspicious it would be a big help to everyone.
Stornoway horse owner Gayle Taylor has been affected by two strange incidents regarding her horses including the discovery of a snare on her horse’s grazings.
Describing the incident which happened in February, she said she had noticed a snare when she was filling hay nets which had been attached to the clothes line.
She said: “I noticed it had been hooked onto the clothes line at the bottom and this was not there before as I had just replaced the pole three days prior to this and there was nothing on it and definitely not a huge piece of wire.
“It was then wrapped around another pole in a strange knot and then it went about 10 feet away into a large loop. When I pulled the loop with my foot it pulled very tight on my leg and tripped me up.”
She said the gate had also been tampered with but fortunately the gate is difficult and noisy to open so the horses were thankfully not let out.
She said she also received a very strange phone call last weekend from someone asking how her horse’s back was after his incident. She replied it had never had a back injury and the person then replied that she should stay with them that evening in case anything happened. Thankfully nothing happened but she was left shaken and disturbed by the string of incidents.
Several incidents involving horses have appeared in the police files section of the Stornoway Gazette and have been investigated by the police.
All horse owners are urged to be vigilant in securing their horses and the community are also urged to report anything suspicious to police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.