AN Army veteran has been left heartbroken by the theft of a treasured warhorse, which helped him heal from his post traumatic stress disorder.

Ricky Fenwick, 47, of Chester-le-Street, made an impassioned appeal for help in recovering his highly-trained mare Reiver, who led the Queen's Bays reenactment group on tours across the UK and Europe.

The dark bay 16-hand mare was taken from a field in nearby Plawsworth, between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

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Mr Fenwick, who runs the reenactment group, said: “I am absolutely heartbroken. I suffer from PTSD and Reiver has changed my life. She made me the man I am now. I have had her for two-and-half years and trained her from the outset.

“When we got her she was wild horse and now she is the best in the troop. Now she is gone and everybody is devastated.

“It feels like most of me has been stripped away."

Mr Fenwick, served for ten years with The Life Guards, which is part of the Household Cavalry. The former lance corporal was on active tour in Bosnia in the late 90s, when his armoured vehicle was blown up by a landmine.

While he was not wounded others were and the traumatic incident left him suffering from PTSD.

He said: “I was on the scrap heap. I had been locked up and was involved crime and a gang. The people I was with were nervous of me and I was asked to do something about it and see a horse therapist."

Reiver proved his route out of the underworld.

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Mr Fenwick said: "I took the horse therapy course. It was like the Guinness advert, where the guy rescues the horse from the abattoir and says he says “I don’t know if I rescued the horse or the horse rescued me". "

"It is recognised that horses can help with healing in so many ways. We have young people we teach horsemanship and have members up to the age of 60.

"Reiver was one of those horses you could put a two-year-old with, and she would understand what she had to do. If it was somebody in wheelchair she would lower her head. She is a very compassionate horse and also a training tool for others.

"We have travelled all over the UK and Europe doing First World War reenactments. and we also encourage other veterans with PTSD to join us."

Mr Fenwick said the group was due to attend several county shows – since cancelled because of Covid-19.

Judith Pike, who owns the land where the horses were kept, said: "Reiver was taken between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The fence surrounding the field had been smashed down by a van or something reversing into it.

"I think it was my horse they were after. It's in training at the moment so it didn't load into the van. But Reiver was a bit older and was probably an easier catch.

"Ricky is someone who has served the country and had PTSD. It is heartbreaking."

The incident has been reported to the police. Anyone with information should contact Durham Police on 101.

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