A SERIES of “shocking” late night attacks on horses pelted with stones and eggs at an equestrian centre for disabled riders has seen a charity galloping to the rescue.

Trespassers armed with air guns and flanked by dogs to hunt wild animals alarmed staff working at the Unicorn Centre – a purpose-built riding school for the disabled.

Youths were also known to blight the facility, in Hemlington, Middlesbrough, distressing horses stabled at the site which was not bordered a perimeter fence.

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However, thousands of pounds has now been donated to the centre by the Teesside Philanthropic Foundation to protect the site with security fencing which will be bolstered by CCTV.

Claire Pitt, manager of the Unicorn Centre, said: “As animal-lovers, it was very distressing to know our horses were being hurt by people throwing stones at them and even covering them with eggs. The horses had become nervous and were clearly upset.

“Equally, a number of individuals were entering our property in darkness, often armed with air guns and with dogs, to hunt wild animals.

“That was worrying and alarming but, without a fence, they were able to wander onto our land from a public footpath."

The centre was set up 20 years ago to provide riding therapy sessions to more than 200 children and adults with disabilities in the area.

The Foundation previously donated £5,000 towards a new floor with a further £5,750 going towards the new security fencing.

Foundation trustee Emma Simkins, of patrons Henderson Insurance Brokers, said: “It’s brilliant that we’ve been able to help the Unicorn Centre in their hour of need.

“Having helped the centre purchase a new riding floor a couple of years ago, we were naturally concerned to hear about the attacks, which really do defy belief.

“We had no hesitation in giving them another financial helping hand. It’s a fantastic facility for Teesside’s disabled community and we’re delighted to make sure that remains the case.”