By Logan Smith

*Editor’s note: This story has been updated here: Authorities Remove 144 Horses From Grand County Property; Charges Against Owner Pending

GRAND COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A large number of injured and emaciated horses were removed by authorities from the Snow Mountain Stables near Granby during a two-day, multi-jurisdiction operation that concluded Wednesday night.

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office stated in a Facebook post that its deputies executed a search warrant at the property at 1101 Grand County Road 53 on Tuesday in reference to allegations of animal cruelty and neglect. It did not clarify how the agency became aware of the condition of the animals.

The sheriff’s office was joined by personnel from the Colorado Humane Society and neighboring counties. A Facebook by the Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office stated that its department sent six trucks and trailers to the scene, and that Jefferson County also sent resources.

The exact number of horses is not being released at this time, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, Erin Opsahl, told CBS4 Thursday. But Opsahl confirmed that the operation concluded Wednesday night.

Snow Mountain Stables is located on land owned by YMCA of the Rockies. However, as the sheriff’s office stated on Facebook, the stables “are operated through a private vendor under contract with the YMCA of the Rockies, and are not owned or operated by the YMCA of the Rockies.”

YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch Marketing Manager Amy Wolf confirmed Thursday that the contract with the stables vendor has been terminated.

“We obviously support the sheriff’s office,” Wolf said by phone. She declined further comment out of concern for the sheriff’s investigation.

According to the Colorado Secretary of State’s online business records, Snow Mountain Stables filed for registration with the state in November 2019. It is a limited liability company with an unknown number of members.

The seized horses, meanwhile, were all transported to the Harmony Equine Center in Franktown. That facility is operated by Denver Dumb Friends League.

“The horses are safe. They’re in a really good place,” Dumb Friends League VP of Marketing and Development Laurie Peterson said Thursday. “They were starving. They were very thirsty. (But) they’re very kind. I got the opportunity to meet quite a few of them. We’re going to make them fat and happy.”

Peterson said the horses were severely malnourished and many had injuries. The horses with the worst injuries were prioritized and evacuated from the property before other horses.

Peterson added that the Snow Mountain Stables horses have been rented out in the past for sleigh rides in the winter and trail rides in the summer.

It is not known if any horses remained on the Snow Mountain Stables property after the authorities’ operation.

The Colorado Humane Society is a division of the Dumb Friends League and responds to cruelty and neglect reports in 55 of Colorado’s 64 counties, Peterson added.

 

Logan Smith