SAU issues press release on recovery of horses, press conference

Ty Lester, left, and Dr. David Rankin, president of Southern Arkansas University, pet hungry and happy Grey Wednesday morning after a press conference at SAU announcing the recovery of four of the five stolen horses. Lester was happy to have his horse back, but said he was a little embarrassed to have her on camera because in her seven years she has never looked worse. (Photo by SAU.)

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. 

As Ty Lester is interviewed Wednesday morning at Southern Arkansas University about his horse, Grey, being recovered, the hungry horse grazes. She was found in the woods of McCurtain County, Okla., with three other of the five missing horses. Grey was spray painted to keep her camouflaged. (Photo by SAU.)

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.

Hope Shelton and other Southern Arkansas University students are interviewed Wednesday morning at SAU after four of the five stolen horses were recovered. (Photo by SAU.)

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3 Responses to SAU issues press release on recovery of horses, press conference

  1. Stormy Hayes McClellan says:

    So PROUD SAU Rodeo Team Coach Rusty Hayes for not giving up in the hunt for his students’ horses!

  2. Danny Gray says:

    I am so happy to hear this news. I want to apologize for the citizens of McCurtain County that this happened. I hope that they find they people that are responsible for this theft and hang them like they did in the old days. I met some wonderful students from your University this summer floating on the Lower Mountain Fork River and had a great time with them. If they are an example of the other students that you have enrolled in your University you have a lot to be proud of.

  3. Denise wiley says:

    I am from Bakersfield, California and first heard about the horses being stolen from my daughter and now we are trying to keep the “fire” going via Facebook. I am glad for the four horses that were recoveresd but everyone must continue to look for CreditCard. I am saddened that the owner of CreditCard has not found her horse. Its hard to believe that someone or others would commit a crime such as this but recently I have heard horrible stories about horses that were stolen. Many of us who were at a barrel race today wondered if the search was being continued by airplane or a search and rescue group. We understand that there is an Army base in Oklahoma and maybe they could help. Time is of the essence for this horse. If he is out in the woods tied to a tree without food or water he isn’t going to be able to live too much longer. Also the borders have to be closely watched as horse slaughter is allowed in Mexico and Canada. News stations, the internet, rodeos, horse sales need to be informed about this missing horse. I am sure that law enforcement is doing everything possible to look for this horse and prosecute those that are responsible. If there is anything that we can do please let us know.

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