Officials have confirmed the recovery and return of four out of five horses stolen nearly two weeks ago from Southern Arkansas University’s Mulerider Stables. One horse remains missing, and the search is continuing.
At a news conference Wednesday morning, SAU Police Chief Eric Plummer said he was notified at approximately 8 p.m. on Tuesday by McCurtain County, Okla., Sheriff Johnny Tadlock that SAU Rodeo Coach Rusty Hayes had located the four horses in a wooded area near Tom, Okla. No one was with the horses when they were found.
The horses were transported back to the SAU campus, and one was taken to a veterinarian in Shreveport, La. The three horses remaining on campus will also be seen by a veterinarian.
The horses are owned by SAU students who are members of the University’s nationally competitive collegiate rodeo team. The students were overjoyed when they heard the news that the horses were found alive.
Ty Lester, owner of “Grey,” a 7-year-old gray mare, said he had kept a full tank of fuel and his trailer hooked to his truck for two weeks hoping he would receive the call to retrieve his horse.
“I was just in a panic,” he said of his thoughts after receiving the call. “I was in a rush to get there and get her.”
Lester said Grey was malnourished and dehydrated when she was found. He said the other horses were found in similar circumstances.
“You could count every rib in her body,” he said. “She’s a lot better today than she was when I got her back.”
Grey may make it back on the rodeo circuit within a few months, but for now, “she’s got some well-deserved time off,” Lester said.
Plummer said the top priority is now finding the one horse which remains missing: “Credit Card,” a 15-year-old sorrel gelding.
Deputies from the McCurtain County Oklahoma Sheriff’s Department recovered some of the saddles, blankets and other tack on Thursday, Nov. 10. A livestock trailer that was taken during the theft was recovered on Thursday, Nov. 3. The horses and other items were stolen during the overnight hours of Nov. 2.
Police have confirmed that they do have suspects in the case, but those names have not been released as the investigation is continuing.
Individuals with information regarding the theft or the location of “Credit Card” are urged to contact the SAU Police Department at (870) 235-4100 or Arkansas State Police Investigator Hays McWhirter at (870) 703-2065.