SCOTT SMITH'S ambition to return to top level showjumping has received a boost with the arrival of a new horse from America.
Hidden Creeks Campella, the former ride of leading American show-jumper Margie Engle, has been bought as an Olympic prospect for Smith.
He is well known for his partnership with the stallion Cabri d'Elle. Together, they were part of the British team at the 2001 European Championships and competed at the 2002 World Equestrian Games.
They also competed on 35 Nations' Cup teams and won some of the biggest Grand Prix competitions in Europe.
After a four-year break from international competitions, Smith is keen to get back on track again. He is based at Thorne near Doncaster and has the backing of Mike and Judy Studd, from Darrington, and of sponsors MPS Tower Cranes.
Campella, a 17.1hh Swedish Warmblood grey mare, has already made a name for herself in America and has won Grand Prix competitions around the world.
"Once she has settled in at our yard, I hope to start my campaign with her as my top horse and compete for a place on the Olympic team," said Smith.
"The purchase of Campella is a massive boost for everyone concerned ... without doubt she has the ability to compete with the best."
Campella will be joining another horse of which Smith has high hopes, the eight-year-old Holstein, Quintus.
The NFU are warning people to be vigilant following a recent spate of horse rug thefts. Rugs have been stolen from livery yards and even off horses' backs, say the NFU, whose 2010 Rural Crime Survey showed that riding tack and equipment was ninth on the top 10 list of items stolen from the countryside.
"When thieves break into large yards they will strip the place of tack, rugs, grooming equipment, even wheelbarrows and transporting their haul is also easy as they will often steal a horse trailer in which to carry their loot," said a NFU spokeswoman.
Many stolen items end up being sold for a fraction of their value at car boot sales, markets and also on internet auction sites.
Even items such as electric fences have been stolen from fields, as well as head-collars and rugs which have been taken from horses in fields, say the NFU.
If you are buying tack and equipment, the NFU recommend checking them carefully for identification marks or tags before buying.
Look on the panel beneath the saddle flap and on the bridle, the underside of the head-piece where it fits behind the ears.
Rugs may be marked with a name or postcode. If you spot marked items of tack being sold, report this to the police.
Advice from the NFU Mutual includes: never leave tack or equipment lying around the yard; at shows, always lock your tack inside the car or horse box when it is not in use; make sure you have adequate lighting and if possible security lighting on the yard; vary your routine when leaving and arriving so that your movements are not predictable; mark rugs with your postcode and phone number somewhere where it can not be removed by thieves.
A move towards limiting the journey time for horses destined for slaughter in Europe has been welcomed by the charity, World Horse Welfare.
Scientists at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have made a number of recommendations for improvements to current EU welfare legislation for horses and other animals during transport.
Their findings will be considered for a report to be published by the European Commission in the autumn.
The charity has been campaigning for some time for an end to the long-distance transportation of horses to slaughter and submitted evidence to the EFSA.
Jo White, director of campaigns at World Horse Welfare, said the recommendation for a 12-hour journey limit for horses destined for slaughter was extremely welcome.
"To have this introduced and then robustly enforced could bring an end to the stress, exhaustion and suffering the charity sees along Europe's slaughter routes," said White.
"We now call on the European Commission to work quickly towards the introduction of short, finite journey limits, which could end the single biggest abuse of horses in Europe."
Other recommendations which will be put forward include the provision of clean drinking water and that horses have sufficient space and are transported in individual partitions.