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Forest Service Law Officers Help Rescue Starving, Abandoned Horse in Colorado

As night falls, SerVivor is led out on the trail created by the Routt Power Riders snowmobile club members.

As night falls, SerVivor is led out on the trail created by the Routt Power Riders snowmobile club members. Photo courtesy Ed Calhoun

On Jan. 8, a U.S. Forest Service dispatcher radioed agency law enforcement officer Mike Seawall that members of the Routt Power Riders snowmobile club had discovered a small abandoned horse an hour and a half north of Steamboat Springs, Colo., on the Routt National Forest.

Accompanying local veterinarian Dr. Mike Gotchey and his horse trailer, the rescue party eventually found the roads too packed with snow for vehicles but they still had a considerable distance to travel,  so the snowmobilers transported the group another eight miles to the stranded animal.

When Seawall arrived with reserve law enforcement officer Steve McCone they could see that a saddle on the horse had become loose and was hanging under its belly and was filled with snow. The girth cinch had cut through his skin and had exposed bone.  The saddle was acting as a scoop and an anchor and kept the animal from moving through the deep snow.

The rescue party prepares to leave the site where SerVivor was stranded.

The rescue party prepares to leave the site where SerVivor was stranded. Photo courtesy Ed Calhoun

Dr. Gotchey determined the horse was malnourished and had a severe infection and may have been surviving on sparse feed for up to four months.

After capturing the animal and cutting off the saddle the group began leading the horse back to the waiting trailer under a moonlit sky. The snowmobilers created a one and a half mile path of packed snow to provide better footing for the horse so he could reach a groomed snowmobile trail.

Once the main trail was reached, the officers and Dr. Gotchey led the horse six miles to the waiting trailer and then drove into town to the Steamboat Veterinary Hospital where the newly named, “SerVivor,” was treated.

The hospital reports he’s now in a foster home with two other horses. He and a 33 year old gelding have become fast friends, not getting out of each other’s sight. SerVivor has put on 150 pounds and his wound is healing nicely.

14 Responses to “Forest Service Law Officers Help Rescue Starving, Abandoned Horse in Colorado”

  1. Pam Schneider says:

    Thank goodness for your wonderful work with this poor victim
    of irresponsible humans.

  2. morella DeRosa says:

    This is the kind of history that made my day.

    Thanks to everyone that participate in this rescue mission.
    I admire your dedication for animal walfare!
    Best,
    morella

  3. Karry A. Trickey says:

    Thank you thank you! makes me proud to be USDA employee. saved a few critters during my years as a NRCS employee including several horse, but nothing like this.

    Kudos to everyone to saving this very thankful horse, from a USDA horse lover and owner.

  4. Zenda Beail Plumas National Forest says:

    This story warmed my heart. Thank you to all who helped save this horse. I’am a horse person, and it makes me wonder if you should be looking for the rider (dead or alive)from the sounds of the story. Why else would he have a saddle on? I’m happy for the welfare of the horse anyway. Thanks to all…:-)

  5. Linda Simmons says:

    I am grateful someone stepped up to the plate to save this horse. I only pray that someone did not take a fall causing the saddle to slip and injure the horse.
    Has anyone been reported missing the past 4 to 6 months any place remotely in the radius of where this poor horse was rescued? No telling how far he traveled. Please post a follow up to this story if more is forthcoming. Sure sounds like some sort of foul play.

  6. Nadia Navarrete says:

    Thank you for those who cared about this poor horse. It’s great to see news like this one. It’s great to know that there are people that care for animals that cannot defend themselves from human cruelty

  7. Jim T says:

    Good point made about the rider maybe fell off..better chance the horse was picketed out for a rest and spooked and couldn’t be found..tracking is a special art..not just anyone can follow tracks…great job getting the horse out…but don’t just surmise that the horse was abandoned…if the horse was dumped..the saddle would have been removed..anyone in horses knows a cheap saddle is worth a hundred bucks…hopefully the owners read about this and can clear up the falsehoods….

  8. Suzi says:

    Should a great story. Good start to my day. Thank you.

  9. G Hellyer says:

    Thanks to the local recreationalist(snowmobilers) who found the horse and were able to get the help he desperatly needed.
    And a huge Kudos to Dr. Gotchey, who as always goes above and beyond to care for animals both large and small.
    This situation had a very happy ending.

  10. diane says:

    What a sad story with a Happy ending. I’m so glad that our U.S forest service do a great job for our domestic animals as well as wildlife and people. Maybe the horse wonder off from riding party. I horse didn’t know the area he may have gotten lost. Cause if they know the area well they can usually make it back to trail head.

  11. Jamie Kingsbury says:

    Hi All, I’m the proud District Ranger where the horse was found. Rest assured no one fell off or is missing, but it is weird someone abandoned/lost a horse with its saddle.

    Here’s an update: “Ser Vivor” is in great shape. He is currently in foster care, but they would love to own him outright. He’s gained 200 pounds and all his wounds are healing fine.

  12. Ann Borgione says:

    Great story, thank you so much for sharing it and thanks to everyone involved with the rescue mission for SerVivor!

  13. Athena Kapantas says:

    This kind of story is so heartwarming and a wonderful reminder of the great people that make America what it is. Thank you for doing what it took to save Ser Vivor. May he live a long and happy life. I am sure his rescuers will never forget their experience in saving his life.

  14. dakota O'Conner says:

    thats great! hope we can save more horses in need of help!

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