APPLE VALLEY (CBSLA.com) — Thousands of dollars worth of custom-made saddles designed to help kids with special needs ride horses were stolen in Apple Valley.
The saddles were stolen from the Double 6 Ranch on Yucca Loma Road.
CBS2’s Adrianna Weingold spoke with Ty Nitti, the ranch owner, and parents about the crime.
On the last Saturday of every month, Nitti invites children with special needs to the ranch for free equine therapy.
But earlier this week, someone broke into the barn and stole saddles valued at $20,0000. The saddles were made for paraplegic and quadriplegic children.
“They didn’t just take from us; they took from these children,” Nitti says.
Bubba, 4, is diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder. His mother, Lisa Morgan, says at home he can be out of control. But since starting the equine therapy a few months ago, Morgan says Bubba has calmed down immeasurably.
“There’s a lot of children who come over here and ride these horses, and for them not to be able to do it because someone stole from them, that’s terrible,” Morgan says.
Nitti started the program five years ago when his own son showed signs of autism. He said riding changed his son’s life and has since changed the lives of hundreds of other children.
“We’ve had our very first quadriplegic child on a horse that was able to pick up his entire upper torso and sit up straight,” Nitti said.
Even without the custom saddles, Nitti says he’s determined to keep program running. He’s hoping to raise enough money for new saddles through his training and rodeo events, but more than anything, Nitti says, he just wants the thieves to return what they took from so many children.
“This is that one day a month that they get to be free and have fun and not be ridiculed or criticized, and you took that away from them,” he says to the thieves.
If you have any information on who may have stolen the saddles, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department would like to hear from you.