A Strathroy-area couple were stunned to find Sunday that one of their horses had been shot to death, apparently by a hunting rifle.
The owners of a London-area riding school frequented by children were shocked to find one of their 27 horses mortally wounded in a shooting
they say has also baffled police.
Tage, a bay gelding, was found alive by Andy and Sharon Russell with a bullet wound under one of his legs Sunday.
The horse had been grazing in a pasture at the Strathroy-area property about 2 p.m. when he was shot.
“I was teaching lessons in the arena. The horses I wasn’t using were all outside eating,” Sharon Russell said of when she saw the dark brown horse crumple to the ground.
Sharon Russell operates the riding school on their 50-acre property between Strathroy and Mount Brydges.
“The horse was in distress. I could see that he had an injury, like a gash,” she said.
“Tage”, a horse owned by Andy and Sharon Russell of Mount Brydges, Ont., suffered a bullet wound and had to be a euthanized on Sunday. (Handout/The London Free Press)
“It can’t get up, it won’t get up, we can’t determine why.” Andy Russell said of the moment he left the house to join his wife.
“We do see blood on his leg. Maybe he’s been kicked, we don’t know.”
“I did not hear a gunshot,” added Andy Russell. “(The blood) was all down his leg. He didn’t walk anywhere, He was hit and he went down.”
A veterinarian and an officer from Strathroy-Caradoc police identified the wound in the horse’s lower chest-shoulder area as a bullet wound.
The vet was the first to arrive. Since they were getting nowhere examining Tage, they flipped the animal over.
“I didn’t believe it,” Andy Russell said of his reaction when the vet told him the wound was caused by a bullet.
The police officer who attended the property after said the wound likely came from a hunting rifle larger than a .22, Andy Russell said.
Tage was euthanized and buried, but the Russells still don’t know who shot the animal or why.
“We don’t know” what happened, said Andy Russell, adding hunters sometimes use the adjacent property.
“I am going with the assumption that it was a hunter,”
A neighbour said he saw four men with orange hunting vests in a pickup truck Sunday.
“Police verified that it was a hunting rifle,” Sharon Russell said.
Strathroy-Caradoc police couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.
Although the riding school is insured, individual horses are not, Sharon Russell said. They’re on the same level as pets, she said. She acquired Tage when he was two years old and that was 25 years ago.
“The (Arabian horses) do tend to live until they’re 32 or so. I just think this poor horse didn’t deserve this crappy ending,” she said.
The couple say they and their two children have lived on the property for nearly 23 years, but nothing like this has happened before.
“We have no enemies,” Andy Russell said. “I know it’s stupidity. I don’t believe it’s intentional,”
About 15 young riders are on the property at any given time.
“We’re just so lucky that it was a horse and not a child,” Andy Russell said.