STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – A group of snowmobilers found what officials believe to be a sheepherding horse out in the wild near Steamboat Springs.
The horse appears to have survived living in the North Routt backcountry for as many as 4 months. Officials believe the horse — who has been given the temporary name Ser Vivor — must have been grazing on sparse feed he found in tree wells. The dry climate so far this winter may have saved his life.
Ser Vivor was found with a saddle on and officials believe it may have ran off. The snowmobilers, forest rangers and some others in the rescue party eventually walked it out 8 miles to safety.
Among those was veterinarian Dr. Mike Gotchey from the Steamboat Veterinary Hospital, who told CBS4 on Thursday the horse is now doing much better. He shared the following photo from the rescue:
Gotchey, who deals with horses frequently, said Ser Vivor was close to starving when he first saw him under a tree in a field between Crane and Whiskey parks in North Routt County.
“He was standing there looking at us and he was in pretty poor shape,” he said. “He looked at us and kind of kicked his ears up as if to say ‘Get me out of here.’ ”
Gotchey praised the 20-year-old animal for not giving up under adverse circumstances.
“Nobody would say ‘What a cutle little animal’ but he’s really bright, has a lot of personality and has a big heart.”
When the group approached Ser Vivor, the saddle was around his belly and had been dragging in the snow. In addition to being malnourished he was suffering from a wound that had bled down on his sides.
Routt Powder Riders President Mary Sue Sorenson was also part of the group that found the horse.
“It was so sad,” she told the Steamboat Pilot & Today newspaper. “He tried to get away from us, but he just didn’t have much strength.”
If the owner doesn’t claim the horse he will be put up for adoption. Several people have already expressed interest in owning Ser Vivor.