ACSO seeks information after horses killed, injured in two incidents



By Joe Napolitan
Staff Writer

Editor’s note: This story contains graphic information.

Local officials are investigating multiple incidents of horses being injured and killed along County Road 500.

At approximately noon on Saturday, May 15, Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) deputies received a radio call that three horses had been shot near County Road 500, according to an incident report provided by the agency.

The incident report states that when the deputies arrived on scene, the reporting party met them outside the corral where all three horses were located. The previous morning, the horses were sent to free-range pasture before returning that evening, when the reporting party noticed what appeared to be small entrance wounds with small trickles of dried blood.

“Based on the size of the wounds and the low volume of dried blood, finding evidential trace blood on the ground would be nearly impossible,” the incident report states.

According to the report, one horse had a wound high on its neck, beneath the jaw bone. Both of the other horses had wounds on their left sides, in front of the rear legs. One survived, with a wound higher up and nearer to its spine. The deceased horse’s wound was lower in the back, near its rib cage.

The incident report states that, at the time, the reporting party did not suspect bullets caused the wounds as the horses frequently rub up against and are sometimes injured by objects while pasturing. However, the reporting party found it unusual that one horse did not eat once corralled and again the following morning at 10 a.m. At approximately noon, the horse was discovered deceased.

A supplemental narrative included with the report states that during the necropsy performed on the deceased horse, a veterinarian was skeptical that the wound was caused by a bullet. The entry wound was small, around 3 millimeters in size, and no projectile was found. The low volume of apparent bleeding indicated either a very small caliber projectile or puncture wound as the cause of injury.

The narrative states that the cause of death was toxic peritoneal sepsis from a gut wound that pierced the peritoneum.

A similar incident on County Road 500 occurred on Jan. 1. A separate report states that, at approximately 6:50 p.m., deputies responded to a dispatch call of two dead horses in the area and were advised that they appeared shot.

That reporting party stated that he discovered the two horses on the night of Dec. 31, 2020, and returned to look at them the next day. 

The reporting party, per the report, stated that they were wild horses that he had seen walking around before and that they did not have a brand on them. The reporting party thought that one of the two horses, a mare, had been shot because she had a hole in her neck and was also possibly hit by a car.

The deputies arrived and discovered the mare three-quarters of a mile past mile marker 32 on the right side of the road. The foal was 50 yards further on the left side of the road. The mare was found with a large hole in her neck, bloated and with bird droppings on her side. The other horse, a foal, had a small hole around its neck with possible blood around it. The deputies rolled both horses over and confirmed that the animals did not have a brand. 

The ACSO has requested that anyone with information that might assist in the ongoing investigations call (970) 264-8430.