In the Old West, horse thieves were routinely hanged — some of them after being legally tried and convicted. And while stealing horses’ food in 21st century South Carolina doesn’t merit the same punishment that stealing a horse did in 19th century Texas, in the case of a recent reported crime in Bluffton, it does warrant severe scorn.

According to the Hilton Head Island Packet, more than five bales of hay were taken from the Heroes on Horseback stables on Sept. 1.

That organization, on its web site, identifies itself as the “premier accredited operating center” of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, which “fosters safe, professional and ethical equine-assisted activities for individuals in the Lowcountry with physical, mental or emotional disabilities without regard to race, color, creed.”

The total cost of that loss is estimated at no more than $35.

Yet that’s real money for a seven-horse outfit that now also must pay the added expense of locking up feeders that it has long left unsecured.

And just knowing that somebody would be lowdown enough to try to make hay by stealing from a charity that assists the disabled imposes a psychic cost that transcends financial measure.

As Laura Kinsey, equestrian director of the organization, put it to the Packet: “Who would come in and take from a nonprofit? We can’t afford to have someone stealing our hay.”

And we can’t wait to see the dirty polecats who committed this crime brought to justice.