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DYING WOMAN’S WISH TO SEE HER ‘MISSING’ HORSES ONE LAST TIME

A MumsHaynet Exclusive

Cancer woman Kate Brand's missing horse in Wales
DISAPPEARED: TB x Sec D Regan was sold while owner Kate underwent gruelling chemotherapy

A terminally ill woman has told how her beloved horses vanished while she was in hospital undergoing chemotherapy – despite a trusted friend promising to look after them.

Kate Brand says her two mares were wrongfully sold on to dealers within weeks of their temporary move, and now her dying wish is to be reunited with them, if only to say goodbye.

“Not knowing where my horses are, or that I may never see them again, has been more painful and harder to bear than fighting cancer,” Kate told MumsHaynet.

Last summer, 59-year-old Kate was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and given just 12 months to live.

As she struggled with the bombshell news, a trusted friend offered to care for her two horses, Regan and Ramona, but the mares disappeared weeks after arriving at the rented yard in the Welsh town of Blaenavon.

The devastated mum-of-three said: “The girls mean the world to me and I just want to know they are happy and being well looked after before I die.

“After my diagnosis I was determined to find them a loving, but temporary home while I fought cancer. I could have sold them, but I was worried they would fall into the wrong hands and be passed from pillar to post.

“I can’t believe that the fate I most dreaded for them, and tried so hard to avoid, has fallen upon them. My heart is broken.”

Kate says she trusted her pal, who we are not naming for legal reasons, because they had been friends for four years prior to the terminal cancer diagnosis.

“She knew I had only been given a year to live and I think she thought I wasn’t going to make it,” Kate said as she choked back tears.

“She told me she would look after the girls as if they were her own so I could concentrate on fighting my illness. But I’ve been betrayed and exploited in the worst possible way.”

Kate Brand says her horses were stolen
HOLDING ON TO HOPE: Kate with Ramona in happier times before her terminal cancer diagnosis

Married Kate, a care manager, bought 15.3hh Regan, a TB x Sec D, and 14hh Hanoverian cross pony Ramona just before her 50th birthday in 2014. It was a dream come true for the devoted horse lover.

She said: “I knew if I left it much longer, I would never end up owning my own horse. Through friends I was offered Ramona first and Regan followed eight months later.

“I just couldn’t believe that after all these years I finally had my own horses. I was beyond excited.”

Sadly, two years later Kate was dealt a cruel blow when a routine doctor’s appointment revealed she had cancer.

Following chemotherapy and radiotherapy she received the all-clear, but in 2021 a scan revealed the disease had spread to her pelvis.

Kate said: “Unfortunately, it was a rare, slow growing cancer which had spread. but I tried to stay as positive as possible and enjoy my time with my horses.

“Ramona wasn’t backed when I bought her, aged nine, so I sent her to a professional yard, but they felt she was more suited to being a broodmare. I put her in foal and she produced a gorgeous colt, Roo, who my daughter owns.

“I was also offered a lovely 11-month-old filly called Rosa who I bought, and still have.”

In June last year, Kate was about to jet off on a dream holiday to the Greek island of Kefalonia when she discovered a lump in her neck. A hospital scan revealed it was cancerous. The scan further revealed the cancer had spread to her stomach and her condition was terminal.

Kate said: “I had a year to live without treatment and 22 months with medical help. I decided to take the treatment even though I knew it would wipe me out physically and emotionally.

“I knew I wouldn’t be able to look after all the horses properly so I contacted a reputable animal rehoming centre to see if they could take the girls, but they were full to the brim.

“Then my friend stepped forward to say she had secured a 16-acre smallholding and would look after the horses while I underwent chemo. She assured me they would be well loved and looked after and I could visit them anytime I wanted.

“It was a temporary agreement and I felt like my prayers had been answered, that I had some good news for a change.”

stolen horse regan
UNBELIEVABLE: Kate has been told Regan has died, but she refuses to believe her mare is gone

In October, the horses were picked up and the two women hugged as they watched them gallop happily around their new field. The friend promised to send Kate regular updates and photographs. But after several months of these never arriving, Kate panicked.

She travelled to the yard and spent four hours scouring the fields by torchlight, knocking on the doors of local houses in a desperate bid to locate her horses.

Kate said: “It was one excuse after another – the farmer must have moved them, she was seriously ill, her son was looking after them.

“I asked where my horses were, but she refused to admit they had been sold behind my back. I bombarded her with calls until she finally accused her son of selling them. It was the news I was absolutely dreading.”

Following the disappearance of Regan and Ramona, Kate contacted Gwent police earlier this month only to be told the case was a civil matter and not a criminal offence.

Kate was beside herself and though she possessed her horses’ original passports, she was seriously ill and utterly exhausted. That’s when Charlotte Bailey, the partner of Kate’s farrier, stepped forward to help.

Charlotte, 33, from Newport, started digging for information and even launched a national social media campaign to find Kate’s horses She was shocked to discover the mares had been sold to a dealer in Swansea – within weeks of leaving Kate’s place.

Both horses were then sold on to another Welsh trader where identification documents were filled out and new passports issued.

Incredibly, Charlotte has managed to track Ramona to a home in Shropshire, but the woman who bought her is refusing to let Kate see her.

Regan was allegedly sold again to the wife of an agricultural feed merchant, but returned when the woman fell off. The mare was then sent to yet another dealer who claims the horse is now dead.

Kate sobbed: “These poor animals have been backwards and forwards to various dealers who have been trying to pass them off as 10-year-olds when there are in fact 21 and 18 years old.

“I assured the woman who now has Ramona that I wasn’t going to take her away if she was being well cared for. I just want to see her one last time and say goodbye.

“I also don’t believe for a second that Regan has passed. I am sure it’s just a ruse to try and put Charlotte and I off the scent.

“Charlotte has been utterly amazing trying to locate my horses and I am now pleading with the woman who has Ramona, and whoever has Regan, to just let me see my girls one last time and say goodbye to them.”

Charlotte, who works as a carer, says she has vowed to help Kate in anyway that she can.

She said: “If anyone out there had a heart and an ounce of sympathy they will help Kate fulfil her dying wish.

“I was so shocked and saddened by her story. She is such a lovely lady and she doesn’t deserve this, especially after all she’s gone through. This is every horse owner’s worst nightmare.”

MumsHaynet contacted Kate’s former friend – a woman whose identity and location we are not disclosing – but she refused to make any comment.

Gwent Police also confirmed that while the incident has been reported, it is regarded as a civil matter.

A police spokesperson said: “The advice given to the reporting person was that it’s not a police matter and she was advised to contact citizen’s advice for legal support.

“Based on the circumstances provided by yourself and the reporting person it would be inaccurate to describe it as a theft – theft would have required the horses to have been taken without permission. The reporting person requested that the horses be looked after by this friend, therefore not stolen. The issue appears to be the breach of the agreement between the two parties on what would happen to the horses – which is a civil matter.”

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