THERE is no evidence to suggest horses are having their manes plaited by thieves, police have reassured owners.

PCSO Tom Balchin of Dorset Police's rural crime team said a small number of reports of the practice are made to the force each year.

Those who make the reports believe the plaits are a sign for thieves.

"Dorset Police has no evidence to suggest that any horses or ponies have been stolen using this method," PCSO Balchin said.

"In fact, it is highly likely these plaits are caused naturally by the wind tangling the horse's mane."

Owners are advised to check hedges, fences and gates for damage or weakness regularly, making any necessary repairs as soon as possible.

Head collars and lead ropes shouldn't be left close to where horses are kept.

Gate hinges can also be turned upside down and welded to ensure the gate cannot be lifted away.