A HORSE was injured and thousands of pounds worth of equestrian equipment was stolen when a North-East showjumping champion was burgled.

Raiders targeted Phillipa McKeever's stables in Houghton-le-Spring, Wearside, and took a quad bike and all of her horse tack except one saddle, which was dropped on the floor during the heist in the early hours of Saturday. The gear was worth almost £30,000 but they also left a nine-year-old Oldenberg horse named Neverland with a one-inch mark above his eye.

Miss McKeever, 29, said: "Neverland is a horse that likes to bang on the stable door when he is agitated, so he is a bit like a guard dog.

"Someone has given him a whack because when I went in he was cowering at the back of the box. He is okay though but was really quiet on Saturday."

The raiders broke chains that keep the stables locked and tore down part of a fence.

Miss McKeever said she fears it was carried out by the same gang who broke into the stables in September when another quad bike was stolen.

She said: "Their escape route is the same so we are sure it was done by the same people.

"They broke in a different way but they have brought more tools because they could not get in the tack room last time."

Miss McKeever said it means she cannot enter the national winter showjumping championships. She said: "We are insured, but the problem is I compete to a very high level and the saddles are specially designed for me so they cannot be replaced.

"They are unique and you cannot get them in the shops. I am going to miss qualifying for the winter championships.

"It is a nightmare and there is nothing I can do until I get my saddles back. I have one but it will not fit all of the horses."

Miss McKeever said she is prepared to give a reward for information that leads to the recovery of her riding equipment.

Anyone with information is asked to call Northumbria Police on 0191-454 7555.