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.
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.