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Thieves Saddle Up With Equipment From Equine Therapy Non-Profit

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LANCASTER (CBSDFW.COM) - An all volunteer program designed to educate and provide therapy for students is trying to get back in the saddle tonight.

Thieves stole what the program in Lancaster needs to pair city kids with horses.

A 10-acre property is a place for FFA and equine studies classes to come. The school district bought the property. Donations, students and volunteers helped fix the place up and toko care of the horses from a rescue program. Most people would see a beneficial program for young people. Unfortunately, thieves saw this as a target.

"They've really helped me out a lot," said 11th grader LeighAnn Hittle.

Hittle is part of a program pairing students with horses rescued from abusive environments.

The students learn how to work with the animals and build their trust. And in many cases the horses offer therapy in return. Hittle has alopecia, which causes her hair to fall out.

"So, recently school has been a little bit difficult because of that," Hittle said. "Kids are mean. But being out with these horses it's like, they don't care I lost my hair! They love me!"

But, Tuesday Hittle made a startling discovery.

"I went up, drove up and looked at the trailer and the handle was broken off. The doors mangled. And everything was gone," she said.

Twenty-five thousand dollars worth of donated saddles, bridles and bits, helmets and boots were stolen.

"The students who stick around get to ride the horses," Hittle said. "But without saddles and bridles we can't do that."

"I shouldn't be having to worry about getting saddles now," said Terry Wade-Ottley with Gabby's Sanctuary Ark which cares for the animals and now must replace the equipment. "We need a round pen. We need a new truck. We need a tractor that can haul some hay. You know, those are the things that I need to be getting. But now we have to concentrate on replacing things that of already been given to us."

They worry now about replacing the equipment, but they say the horses have taught them that there is no such thing as a lost cause.

"And you know what? What they meant for evil God is going to bring to good," Wade-Ottley said. "Because THIS is what we are supposed to be doing right now."

"Seeing these rescue animals learning to trust again just makes me realize, You know what? I don't need to hold grudges against anyone who hurt me in the past," Hittle said. "I could just learn to either love them again or just let it go."

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