Police are searching for a small steed measuring just 63 centimetres, after it was stolen during the 47th National Horse Show in Città di Castello, in the central region of Umbria.
The petite pony, named Charly, currently holds the World Record for the smallest horse making him “very valuable” according to a spokesperson at the horse show.
According to Italian media reports, thieves cut through the netting surrounding the pony’s enclosure on Thursday night before making off with the steed through a nearby tobacco field. The alarm was later raised by the pony's owner.
”The problem is that this pony is so easy to transport because he is so small – like a dog,” a spokesperson from the show told The Local.
“He is due to perform on Friday, Saturday and Sunday but this is looking increasingly unlikely,” he added. “One of our hypotheses is that they [the thieves] will ask for a ransom.”
Meanwhile, Charly's distraught owner Bartolo Messina is increasingly desperate for news of his protégé.
“I never imagined having to write this but unfortunately it has happened and I feel empty, violated and destroyed!” Messina lamented on Facebook this morning.
“Help me to find him, whoever has news…please contact me!” he added.
In a statement issued this afternoon, Angelo Capecci, president of the horse show, described the theft as a “very serious criminal act that offends and humiliates all in the horse world.”
“The security measures that we have adopted for years guarantee the safety of participants and which have always stopped the occurrence of similar episodes,” Capecci added.
“We express our solidarity and affinity with Bartolo Messina, a great equestrian artist, someone who loves and has always lived with horses and has trained with extraordinary passion and ability the pony that was a victim in this sad episode.”