Horse left abandoned near Rulison survives gunshot to head

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Department is investigating an animal cruelty case in which someone shot a horse in the head and abandoned it.

The horse survived being shot with what appears to have been a small-caliber gun, but it’s unclear if it will recover without permanent damage, the Sheriff’s Department said.

“What they did to this horse, it is infuriating,” said Tanny McGinnis, Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman.

Emergency dispatchers were contacted Monday afternoon about an injured horse on the north side of Interstate 70 just west of Rulison. Deputies, a brand inspector and a veterinarian responded.

Deputies found tracks from what appeared to be a truck and trailer near a natural gas well pad in the area. The Sheriff’s Department said it appeared the horse was unloaded and shot. It left a half-mile blood trail to where deputies located it.

The bullet entered the front of the horse’s head and exited about five inches below his right ear on his neck.

The horse is a gray gelding, about 14.2 to 14.3 hands high, and in his late teens or early 20s, with no brand or identifying marks.

It remains under a veterinarian’s care.

“It is really struggling,” McGinnis said. “We are hoping this horse recovers.”

The Sheriff’s Department is asking anyone with information to contact the Garfield County Crimestoppers at 970-945-0101 or go online to

McGinnis said she has been receiving e-mails from people wanting to contribute financially to the horse’s care, and the Sheriff’s Department will arrange a way to accept donations.

McGinnis said the crime, at a minimum, could result in misdemeanor animal cruelty charges punishable upon conviction by fines, probation or jail time, depending on the circumstances. Felony charges related to animal cruelty also are possible, she said.

“Even if they had an injured animal or horse that they were trying to put out of its misery, that’s all fine and dandy, except that horse didn’t die, it suffered,” she said. “If you’re going to put down an animal, you’d better be darn sure you put down an animal properly, and that one obviously was not.”


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