When Steve Gilbert heard his horse making a commotion in the middle of the night last week, his first thought was that a stray dog or even a cougar might have frightened the 33-year-old mare.
So he got up and went to investigate.
By the time he got back to bed hours later, he’d been through a harrowing experience as he battled a loose stallion who battered his way into the mare’s pen and attacked her.
Now he wonders whose horse it was, and if anything like it has happened in the area before.
“My wife woke me up at 3:45 Monday morning, because my horse was making a lot of noise and stamping,” said Gilbert, who owns Steve’s Appliance Repair, a long-time Sky Valley business.
Usually his home, located just off SR 522 west of Monroe, is fairly quiet except for traffic noise. So he wasn’t expecting too much trouble when he dressed and headed out to see what was the matter.
“I realized it was another horse,” he said. “It was jumping around. It had broken through the fence, got my horse out of the corral and was headed for the freeway.”
The mare, Misty, knew better than to head up the hill toward the road. Rather, she fled under the bridge where Gilbert could hear her galloping.
He went back to the house long enough to get his adult son and his son’s girlfriend, and they set out in a truck to retrieve the horse.
It was no easy task. As they tried to approach the mare, the stallion, a spotted appaloosa,
repeatedly attacked them.
“He was coming right at me, biting and kicking,” said Gilbert. “At one point, I was smacking him with my flashlight. He almost kicked my son. My son’s girlfriend was here from college and she sprained her ankle trying to get away from him when they were charging down the road. She had to go to the doctor. The stallion was trying to mount my horse, and I was even starting to think I might have to shoot it. It was at that point.”
Gilbert called the Sheriff’s Office for help, still struggling to free his horse and bring her back to safety, while the appaloosa continued to attack.
“To me, it was a deadly confrontation,” said Gilbert. “It was a wild stallion. I took a couple hits and was laid up for a couple days.”
By the time the sheriff’s deputy arrived, the stallion was tiring and the Gilberts were able to regain control of their mare, returning her to safety.
Then they helped the officer get rope around the neck of the stray horse and tie it to a telephone pole until Animal Control officers could arrive.
It looked like it perhaps had been once cared for, but the condition of its hooves revealed that it had been neglected.
The horse was taken into the custody of animal control.
According to Washington law, the stray stallion’s owner could be liable for any damages incurred by Gilbert:
Any person suffering damage done by any horses, mules, donkeys, cattle, goats, sheep, swine, or any such animals, which shall either trespass upon any land enclosed by lawful fence as provided in chapter 16.60 RCW or trespass while running at large in violation of chapter 16.24 RCW may retain and keep in custody such offending animals until the owner or person having possession of such animals shall pay such damage and costs, or until good and sufficient security be given for the same.
Gilbert still has many questions.
“I’d even give a reward to know who was the owner of that horse, and were did it come from, and are there others?” he said. “Having a horse like that loose is like having a loaded gun in a daycare.”
“If your readers know who owns this horse, please have them contact our Animal Control Services line at (425) 388-3440, and select option 9 for the operator,” said Vicki Lubrin, of Licensing and Animal Control Services.