Who would steal from a 4-year-old?
That’s a question being asked in Dalbo Township where Aikley Veurink had stolen the saddle given to her as a present on her fourth birthday.
The saddle is a Circle S brand with a black seat and rawhide horn. It’s a small child size with a blue and pink saddle pad. Attached to the saddle is a pink cross with fringes.
The theft occurred Wednesday, July 19, in front of the Veurink home at 36959 Xenon St. NW.
Members of the local horse community have been helping the Veurinks search for the saddle to no avail. Excalibur Breeding Center has joined with the Veurinks in offering a cash reward for the return of Aikley’s saddle.
The theft occurred after Jessi Veurink and her daughters Aleeri and Aikley went out riding their horses. Aikley was riding a 38-inch pony named Ajax, for which the saddle is fitted.
Aikley was riding her pony home when her saddle started to slip off to the side, causing her to fall right next to their driveway.
Jessi normally would have normally gotten off her horse to adjust the saddle, but a broken foot has limited her mobility.
“I told Aikley to take her saddle off and tuck it away in the long grass next to our driveway,” Jessi said.
That’s exactly what Aikley did.
Jessi and the girls intended to go up the long driveway, get their four-wheeler and go back down the driveway to retrieve the saddle. But they never got there.
Aikley was riding Ajax bareback up the driveway when someone in a maroon minivan drove up, took the saddle and all the tack and drove off with it.
“I saw the person hop in the van and drive north,” Jessi said. “We tried to flag them down to no avail.”
She was unable to get a license plate number off the van.
Jessi, Aleeri and Aikley were heartbroken.
“I’m not sure if this was an intentional theft or if they thought I was giving it away,” Jessi said.
But either way, the family wants its saddle back.
After the minivan left the Veurink residence, a search for the saddle commenced.
“We got in my pickup truck and cruised the dirt roads and County Road 6,” Jessi said.
“We searched all over. We couldn’t see the van. It could be in a garage or 100 miles away,” she said.
Jessi said she and the girls are bummed out.
“But we’ve shed our tears,” she said.
She said even if the saddle isn’t found, she and her girls are “going to go down swinging” in their search for the saddle.
They have posted on Facebook and other social media and have distributed posters featuring the saddle. On Monday, July 24, Jessi was creating signs to put at the end of her driveway that could draw attention to the saddle theft.
Anyone with information regarding the stolen saddle can contact the Isanti County Sheriff’s Department Tip Line at (763) 691-2426, or Jessi Veurink by email at [email protected]
“We just hope we reach the person, or a friend or family member,” she said.
In the meantime, the theft of Aikley’s saddle hasn’t slowed the Veurink family in taking part in horse-related activities.
The girls went to the Isanti County Fair last week where Aleeri took first place in showmanship with Ajax. Ajax was entered into a “dress-your-animal” event, as well. Covered in bubble wrap, Ajax took third place in the event, Jessi said.