Back in the old days, it was a hanging offense.

But for the owners of TaylorMade horse stables in Montgomery County — scene of a recent horse theft in the middle of the night — a year in jail would do the trick.

“I just worry where Addie is, and how she is being treated,” stable owner Kathy Taylor said Wednesday, “especially with her recent health issues.”

The 12-year-old dressage horse, valued at $8,000, was stolen sometime between 8:30 p.m. Sept. 2 and 4 a.m. the next morning, Montgomery police said Wednesday. A detective has alerted the local horse community and horse auctions stretching across several states. Taylor has enlisted a tracking dog and a psychic.

But no sign yet of the mare, a chestnut thoroughbred/warmblood cross with a gentle disposition.

Addie has had recent stomach troubles. The stable, near Damascus, was restricting her diet to hay and grain. One big worry: The horse thieves might be allowing her to eat too much grass, which could cause particular trouble given how all the rain has made grass so rich.

That Friday evening, Addie, one of nearly 60 horses kept at the stables, was placed in a round paddock with hay to eat. It all held promise for a nice night: Temperatures near 70, no rain.

Taylor was up early Saturday, working inside a barn. At 3:30 a.m., she heard a noise outside but didn’t think much of it. By the time she went to check on Addie — and saw the pen gate off its hinges — it was 4. First, no big worries.

“They’re herd animals,” Taylor said. “They’re not going to leave the area.”

But she couldn’t find Addie.

Taylor enlisted the help of Dogs Finding Dogs, a Maryland nonprofit group that uses dogs to track lost pets.

Anne Wills, founder of Dogs Finding Dogs, arrived with Heidi, a 41 / 2-year-old black German shepherd. Heidi sniffed Addie’s saddle pad and other gear. She started following a path out of the paddock, along a gravel road but in the grass.

“To me, it looked suspicious,” Wills recalled.

If was as if someone was trying to be quiet about it, she surmised. Heidi kept going about 100 more yards. Then she alerted, a sign the trail had ended. Now they were on pavement. There were scuff marks, as if Addie had resisted getting into a trailer.

“In my opinion,” Wills remembered telling Taylor, “that horse was taken.”

In Taylor’s mind, the theft makes little sense. It’s unlikely the thieves would get more than $1,000 at auction. Taylor said horses cannot be slaughtered for meat in the United States, but the thieves could have tried doing so in Canada or Mexico. But that would bring in even less money.

As for the psychic’s report: It was a female mastermind with two “low-life guys” at her disposal who plotted the crime, and Addie is on her way to Florida.