STANISLAUS COUNTY (CBS13) — A malnourished horse in Stanislaus County is now under veterinary care at a 24-hour facility after a father and son found it abandoned at a park near the community of Grayson.
Rescuers named the horse “River” after the San Joaquin River near the area it was found. They told CBS13 the animal is now on the mend, but that wasn’t the case just 24 hours ago.
“He looked like he wasn’t going to make it,” said Cesar Garcia.
That’s what Garcia said prompted him to call authorities.
“Someone dumped this horse while we were fishing,” he said in a video posted on the Modesto/Stanislaus News & Incident Feed Facebook page.
Garcia said he discovered the emaciated horse in the parking lot of Laird Park on West Grayson Road when his son was playing with a flashlight and happened to shine the light in the direction of two vehicles stopped about 50 yards away.
“We heard a horse trailer pull up,” he said. “We could hear the horse kicking and I didn’t think anything of it.”
But as soon as they walked closer, Garcia said the two vehicles took off.
“We got close to the horse and he popped his head up started moving around trying to get up,” he added. ““He was really banged up. He had gashes on his face; gashes on his sides.”
Garcia said he immediately called the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office and a number of people showed up to help.
“Last night I got a message from another rescue gal and she actually has a police scanner and heard the call come across so she messaged me and I went out in my pajamas,” said animal rescuer Bobbie Carne.
At the same time, a nearby dairy farmer spotted the activity and joined in the effort to save the horse.
“He went back to the ranch to get a horse trailer to take him to the vet,” said Garcia.
Carne said the group worked together to get the horse to safety.
“I was in the front with my flashers on,” she said. “He (the dairyman) was in the middle and one of the sheriff’s deputies followed us the whole way to make sure the horse didn’t go down and we didn’t know it.”
Doctors at Taylor Veterinary Hospital in Turlock estimated the quarter horse to be about seven years old. They told the group the horse was extremely underweight and needed its teeth to be “floated” or filed down in order to chew its food and properly absorb nutrients.
“They did an ultrasound and everything on the inside looked to be okay,” said Carne. “They said it will absolutely make it. The vets think that everything is external so we’re going to get it’s inside healthy and work from the inside out.”
One vet told the group they’d like to see River gain about 50 pounds before he gets any shots or dental work. They said he’ll also require months of rehabilitation.
“I have a ranch. I have a stall. And…. I saw fight in him,” said Bryen Camden, who volunteered to care for the animal.
Camden said he grew up on a ranch in Kentucky and has extensive experience caring for horses.
Doctors originally cleared River to go home under his care, but Camden and Carne decided it would be best for the horse to stay for a few days until it gains enough strength to stand on its own and endure a 40 or so minute ride in a trailer to its new home in Oakdale.
“I just want to do what he needs. I have faith in him and I want to show someone else that they were wrong,” he said.
The group urged anyone who may not have the means to care for a horse to reach out to a rescue group or veterinary hospital to get in contact with a reputable organization.
“There are so many resources available out there,” said Carne. “There’s no need to dump a horse out in a park to starve.”
She said she was able to find Camden within a few hours to get the horse the type of care it deserves.
As for Garcia, he said he’s glad to hear the horse survived because if he hadn’t been there to discover it, he said: “It probably would have died honestly.”
Sheriff deputies are now trying to track down the owner to determine what happened and whether they’ll face any charges.