WATCH: Horse expected to heal after shooting with pellet gun
An injured horse at Frontier Village is expected to recover and resume pulling the stagecoach again in mid-August, according to her handler.
Mercury suffered cuts and bruises as the result of someone shooting a pellet gun at the Frontier Village’s three horses and five ponies around July 12, said Karen George, caretaker of horse and pony operations at Frontier Village. The Morgan horse had been pulling the stagecoach as part of a team since June.
Just over a week ago there was concern that a cut near a tendon might mean the horse could not pull a wagon again.
“Someone must have went into the pasture and got close to them because I don’t think that kind of harm could have occurred if they shot from the road,” George said. “For a pellet to go inside the hide of a horse it must be powerful or close.”
The shooting apparently spooked the horses into running, damaging fences and gates. It was apparent something happened, she said, but it was another two days before the cause was discovered.
“We didn’t know until we started brushing them and cleaning them up and found a festered hole (in Mercury) with a BB,” George said. “All of a sudden we found BBs all over them in their rumps and in their topline and their tails.”
The horse was not examined by a veterinarian, George said, because the cuts were superficial and the bruise preventing Mercury from pulling will heal. The horse just needs more time to heal with ointments, wrapping and painkillers, she said.
“There was nothing a veterinarian would have to sew up,” George said.
Mercury and Moon are two 9-year-old Morgan horses that were purchased from an Iowa owner in June. The horses replaced Star and Willow, two 14-year-old Morgan Percherons cross draft horses, when it was determined Star could no longer pull a load.
The stagecoach rides were able to continue by pairing Moon and Willow temporarily until Mercury can return.
“We did make a team and it’s working,” George said.
The horses and ponies may be skittish for some time to come, George said. Horses are flight animals and look for things that would scare them, and when chased it makes a big difference in how they can be handled, she said.
“We’ve had them come up a little skittish before but never like this,” George said. “It is a small pasture, and they depend on each other and herd together.”
The Jamestown Police Department is patrolling the roads above and below Frontier Village. JPD Lt. Robert Opp, the Tuesday day-shift commander, said there were no other reports of animals being shot with pellets at the National Buffalo Museum, Frontier Village or around Jamestown.
“We don’t know who did it, and we are still trying to figure out who did,” Opp said.
He said anyone with information on the shootings or who knows of other animals that were shot with pellet guns are asked to contact JPD at 252-2414 or 252-1000.
“If anybody knows who went down and chased the horses and shot them with a pellet gun we’d like them to come forward and let us know so that it doesn’t happen again,” George said.
Frontier Village Manager Nicole Mosolf said the fences and structures that were damaged by horses and ponies bumping into each other after being spooked by the attack have been repaired.
“The ponies were running, too, when they were shot at they ran through the fence,” Mosolf said. “They are a little skittish now and loud noises get them jumpy, but they are calming down and coming around."