Rustlers prowling local farms

By Amy Shanks

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Stella is back with her owner Ashleigh Kearns after she was stolen from a Riverbend Road paddock.
Stella is back with her owner Ashleigh Kearns after she was stolen from a Riverbend Road paddock.

A Facebook page called Stella's Story has been used to warn people horse thieves are still on the prowl following a recent case of horse theft in Napier.

Tales of cruelty and animal rustling continue to emerge following the theft of the beloved horse Stella from its Riverbend Road paddock last month.

Stella, a 15-year-old mare with a diseased hoof, was stolen and ridden through the streets of Napier - causing serious damage, with ongoing consequences.

The horse belonged to Ashleigh Kearns, 15, whose father discovered the beloved pet at a Napier property days after its disappearance - she was dehydrated, with an ulcerated mouth, tight muscles, tendon swelling in her legs and hoof damage.

"He just happened to see her ears as he was driving along, he knocked on the door and said 'You've got my horse', a woman slammed the door in his face and ran down the road to get back-up," Ashleigh's mother Sharon Steed said.

"They returned with a golf club, which they swung at him but missed twice, they were swearing at him for taking back his own horse."

Now on the road to recovery in a new location, Stella was "looking good," and regaining some of her old personality, but there were still major concerns for her health.

"She's just tripping over her front legs, we tried to let her out for a canter but she just couldn't do it, it's like she takes one step forward and three steps back."

A long list of experts had been called in to help nurse her back to health, including a horse chiropractor, dentist, farrier, and vet.

"We had the farrier out here, she's still got bare hooves on the back and shoes on the front to take some pressure off, she's still wheezing; the vet is going to put a scope down her throat to see what's going on."

A Facebook page called Stella's Story had been used to update people on the mare's progress.

"The paddock where they took Stella was hit again, they cut through two lots of fences and were down to the last two wires when they must have been disturbed - there was a big old horse and three miniatures grazing there," Ms Steed said. "I heard they had also tried in Pandora in that week that Stella went missing, but were not successful."

Hawke's Bay Today recently reported three incidents where 10 lambs were stolen in an area on both sides of the Ngaruroro River this month and there was a cattle theft on York Road at the weekend.

Perhaps the most disturbing case of cruelty to surface since Stella's ordeal was on Guppy Road, where a horse was found covered in welt marks.

"The fencing was cut, they haven't managed to take the horse but they have whipped him."

Ms Steed urged people to keep an eye out for anything suspicious and report strange behaviour to police immediately.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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