Our article on What to do if Your Horse Trailer or Tack Are Stolen is the best resource for responding after your property is missing, but this article addresses some ways to prevent theft from ever happening. Specific ways of using, storing, and protecting your horse tack and trailer can have a huge effect on its likelihood to be stolen.
After our trailer and tack were stolen during an event at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2014, I began researching theft prevention techniques and personal safety.
Use a Saddle Cover in your Tack Room
Locked tack rooms are best, but aren’t always practical in a busy barn. Instead, try a simple saddle cover! Saddle covers are typically used to protect saddles from getting dusty and from gathering scratches and dings as they are hauled from tack room to horse to trailer and back again. Saddle covers can also reduce the likelihood of theft. Tack theft is often perpetrated in large tack rooms, where thieves tend to move quickly, grabbing only saddles that appear expensive or name-brand. Most thieves want to be in and out in seconds, so if your saddle is covered the chances go up that they won’t take the time to lift the cover to check the brand.
Most saddles look- to average witnesses- very similar. In the event of daytime tack theft, (such as emboldened thieves walking off with saddles at a show) saddle covers can make an even bigger difference. It’s unlikely any thief will march down a barn aisle carrying your brightly-colored or monogram-covered saddle, and rather than taking the time to uncover it, most thieves would be more likely to pass over a covered saddle for a valuable exposed one.
Add Theft-Deterring Trailer Decals to your Horse Trailer
Using saddle covers as theft deterrent actually came from a conversation I had with a Kentucky Horse Park police officer following the theft of my horse trailer. There, at a venue that sees trailer theft several times a month, the officer observed that trailers with decals are virtually never stolen. The thieves that continue to steal without getting caught are thieves that steal generic items that witnesses cannot recall because they never noticed it in the first place.
Before investing in expensive and time-consuming locks, simply get a little gaudy. Dreaming of a pink lighting streak down the side of your trailer or an obnoxious decal boasting your farm’s last big championship? This is the perfect excuse! Those big little details that draw attention are the very things that will keep thieving hands off your trailer investment.
Park in Crowded Areas
Our trailer was stolen with a hitch lock attached. While hitch locks are always a good idea, and a reasonable deterrent, they aren’t 100% effective. To help discourage theft, park in an area where the process of forcibly removing anti-theft equipment like hitch locks would be noticed and interrupted. For me, that meant getting used to backing my trailer into tight spots in crowded lots instead of in sparsely occupied, and usually poorer-lit, parking areas.
Keep up-to-date photos of your horse tack, horse trailer, and equipment. While this practice won’t deter theft, it will make the process of filing a claim against your insurance policy OR recovering stolen goods much easier.
Implement Simple Security
Locking your tack room and vigilantly monitoring your trailer with a high-end security system might be the best ways to protect your property- but complex solutions often get abandoned when they make your day to day functioning harder or more complex. Instead, I encourage lower or medium level theft deterrents that take just tiny moments of your day to make your tack and trailer LOOK more secure, which in the end will deter theft.
Cheap, Creative Security:
1. Use a Simple Gun Lock to Secure your Saddle to your Saddle Rack. The loop of a cable-style gun lock is perfect for hooking a saddle to saddle rack via D-ring. Save time searching for keys by simply hanging the key nearby but out of sight (like from a hook obscured by drying saddle pads)
2. At our Joplin location, we loved the security of a gated entrance but hated locking it. Solution? A fake lock: Simply pairing a plain, steel grey carabiner with a length of sturdy chain in a similar steel-grey color makes an easy way to make something (a gate, a hitch, etc) look locked – add extra security with a “dummy” padlock secured to a random chain- it will make the casual observer assume the padlock is securing the chain in place, rather than just serving as decoy for an easy to open carabiner clasp.
Both methods are ideal for deterring theft in areas where people need to move freely and sometimes unlock your property, while still leaving casual thieves deterred from swiping what appear to be well-protected horse tack and trailer items.