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:

photo 5 Snowmobilers Rescue Wounded Horse From Backcountry

(credit: Dr. Mike Gotchey)

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.

ser vivor Snowmobilers Rescue Wounded Horse From Backcountry

Veterinarian Mike Gotchey with the horse (credit: John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today)

“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.

LINK: Steamboat Veterinary Hospital

Comments (10)
  1. Elaine Nash says:

    I wonder whether they’ve considered that the saddle may have been under his belly because of an accident with the rider. Now, will they find a body out there in the spring?

  2. Elaine Nash says:

    Dr, Gotchey, if you need help placing Ser Vivor, let us know at Homeseekers and Heroes on Facebook. We place at-risk equines in safe, lifelong homes.

  3. Todd OathKeeper Homman says:

    I 2nd Ms. Nash, Dr. if you need help raising donations etc please feel free to post in my horse group on Facebook –> Horses – SAVE The Animal that HELPED CREATE America!

    I also wonder if the owner might be laying injured in the back country?

  4. Jeannie Parisi says:

    So happy he is safe but please be careful who comes knocking to adopt, just might be a kill buyer, they are wolves in sheep clothes, sneaky

  5. Jeannie Parisi says:

    Being there was a saddle on this horse and there were no reports of a run away from the rider, sounds to me that the rider is somewhere out there and I hope they are considering looking with search dogs

  6. Pauline Olsen says:

    Jeannie is right…screen carefully and require buy back contract. Over 120,000 American horses are shipped to slaughter in Canada and Mexico. Many of these “rescued” by killbuyers posing as nice people. Be careful with that sweet ol’ boy. And I too hope they are searching, there may have been a rider:(

  7. pat says:

    He could have been out there for lots of reasons. He could have been left. Sheepherders leave their injured and not injured dogs all the time after they take their sheep out of the mountains here. And I once encountered a guy running down the road after two horses, one with a halter and broken lead rope on and the other with a saddle and nothing else on. They were his horses he had rented to hunters and when they were done hunting they just tied up by the road and drove off and left them and called the owner to come get them. The horses were taking off back up into the mountains and I stopped and helped the guy or who knows where those horses would have gone. Those horses were on edge and scared and I do not know if the hunters abused them or the owner but I know when it is time to go home from a ride my horses don’t take of fand go the other way. They jump in the trailer and are ready to go home.

  8. Susan says:

    What a heartwarming story. Big hearted people help a big hearted horse. Congratulations to the snow mobile club for helping.

    Like others, I hope the rider is OK and I urge the folks in charge to do due diligence on where he goes next. Check out anybody who shows up claiming to be his owner. After what this old fella’s been through and his courage, a trip in a brutal stock trailer to doom in Canada or Mexico would be a crime. It is for any horse, but this story is about Ser Vivor. Long life and good health to him. Thanks again, snowmobilers. : )

  9. Cheryl Gould Mouyos says:

    I wonder if the saddle has any identifiable markings/colors/makers name etc that the person claiming to be the owner could use to prove ownership of the horse. That or pictures of the horse with him/her.

  10. C Theos says:

    Did anyone think to contact the State Brand Inspector regarding reports of missing horse?

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