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Valentine's Day Theft of Saddles Breaks Hearts of Young Riders

A donation page has been created to help raise money to replace the $10,000 worth of horse tack taken to try get the girls back in the saddle as quickly as possible.

SAN RAMON, Ca: Photo of some of the saddles taken during a Feb. 14 theft at the Las Trampas Stables. Photo provided by Cindy Wilkinson
SAN RAMON, Ca: Photo of some of the saddles taken during a Feb. 14 theft at the Las Trampas Stables. Photo provided by Cindy Wilkinson
By AUTUMN JOHNSON

When thieves hit the Las Trampas Stables on Valentine's Day, taking with them about $10,000 worth of saddles, they were not just stealing valuable equipment— they were also stealing the ability for the teen girls who train there to ride and compete.

Cindy Wilkinson, the coach and barn manager at the Las Trampas Stables, says someone stole 11 saddles and many pieces of horse tack, including saddle pads, breast collars and bridles, from the tack rooms at the barn in San Ramon. 

"They got in through an empty stall and cut the locks to two tack rooms," Wilkinson said, in a teary interview. "I feel so violated. It broke my heart to tell them. These girls are like my kids. They didn't deserve this. They are such good girls."

The Western saddles cost about $450 apiece and the loss the theft is estimated at upwards of $10,000. Two English saddles and an additional Western saddle, owned by riders who board their horses at the barn, were also stolen. 

The theft leaves the riders, whose ages range from 11 to 19 years old, without the ability to compete in the upcoming gymkhana on March 1. 

Wilkinson says one the of saddles taken was a Christmas gift given to one of the girls. Another rider just bought her own saddle about week before the theft and got to sit in it twice before it was taken. 

"The girl worked at both Starbucks and the barn to earn the money to buy it [the saddle]," Wilkinson said. "Most of the girls cannot afford to buy a new saddle."

Wilkinson says the saddles are unique and recognizable.

The East Bay Regional Parks Police are investigating the theft and have not yet been reached for comment.

According to the Horse Tack Review website, Reid Folsom, a security consultant specializing in farms and ranches says, "The interstate thieves almost always strike at night and take all of the good saddles and bridles. If four or more saddles are taken, or several barns are hit in one night, it's probably the work of an interstate ring."

Wilkinson has insurance but it only covers people and the horses does not cover loss of property. A "Go Fund Me" page has been created to help raise money in an attempt to help replace the stolen tack. So far $1,795 has been raised. Click here to donate.

The young riders are from all over the East Bay and compete in Livermore, Concord and Martinez. 

The Las Trampas Stables is a public facility through the East Bay Regional Parks District, located at 18015 Bollinger Canyon Road. 

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