Thieves strike blow to horse therapy ranch in Wylie

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by JONATHAN BETZ / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on April 11, 2010 at 10:02 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 12 at 1:39 PM

WYLIE — For nearly 30 years, the Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship Center has been using horses to help people overcome disabilities.

This weekend, thieves set back years of hard work.

Just hours before a Special Olympics competition at the ranch in Wylie, deputies said criminals spent hours hauling away lawn mowers, yard equipment and gasoline tanks.

They used a wheelchair ramp to load the loot into the stable's own horse trailer, which they also stole — along with a truck.

"All these little things that add up to a big expense for us, and really affect our facility," said executive director Ariane Einecker. "It's a huge blow for us; right now we don't have a single vehicle to trailer horses."

"The thieves largely left the stables and horses alone, but still made off with more than $100,000 worth of equipment — a deep blow for a non-profit organization with only a million-dollar budget.

Insurance isn't expected to cover the entire loss.

With no transportation, future competitions are now in doubt for riders like Stacey Johnson. The horses both thrill and heal the competitive rider who suffers from a rare bone disease.

"It's really sad," she said. "I can't believe people."

Still, Equest directors are pushing ahead, understanding better than most how important it is to get back in the saddle again.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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