With the Borders common riding season well under way, owners have been warned to check horses for suspicious main or tail plaiting or other markings that could mean the animals have been targeted for theft.
The latest scare happened at the Yair Estate between Galashiels and Selkirk last Thursday after the owner of a horse spotted that its mane had been mysteriously plaited.
TheSouthern was alerted to another incident at Oxnam Road in Jedburgh where the owner of a mature horse, standing 17hh high, noticed it had a discreet plait under its mane.
PC John Lennon of Galashiels said the practice was not a new trend. “It is a way for criminals to identify in advance the horses they want to steal,” he told The Southern.
He warned: “A person who may not be a criminal will choose a horse and then pass on a message to the criminal fraternity over which specific animal they want.
“The criminal will go along during the day into the field and appear to be patting the animal and maybe feeding it a carrot.However, what they are doing is plaiting its mane or placing coloured string or wool in its mane or tail.
“They will then return, possibly in the hours of darkness, and will identify the horse they want by the plaited mane or wool. The animal will then be removed and not seen again.
“It is not a new practice, but we want the general public to get in touch with us as soon as possible if such an incident occurs.”
PC Lennon asked owners to be vigilant, particularly during the coming weeks as the common riding season continues.
He said: “The equine fraternity knows a lot about this but the general public don’t know as much.
“There are a lot of visitors to the area and with the common riding season under way, there are a lot of horses in fields alongside roads.
“We want to highlight the issue and make the public aware of it.”
Anyone with information on the incidents at Yair and Jedburgh should contact the police at Galashiels.