In the heat of the day Tuesday rescue workers fanned out through the rugged wilderness of the northern edge of the LBJ National Grasslands to search for an injured and missing rider.
A bloodied horse, still wearing a saddle, was discovered near a wooded area north of Alvord early in the afternoon.
The Alvord Volunteer Fire Department, Wise County EMS, U.S. Forest Service agents and Wise County Sheriff’s Office investigators were called to the scene on County Road 2788 near the Grasslands to conduct the search.
The horse had no visible injuries, but there was blood on its neck and hind legs.
“She’s not hurt at all,” said Doug Munson, who lives in the area. “She has blood on both sides of her neck and [back legs]. You can see where her reins are broken, too.”
Neighbors did not recognize the horse, and investigators said the brand is not registered in Wise County.
Munson pointed to a trail on the east side of the gravel road where she came from. The clay-colored trail led into a section of the LBJ National Grasslands. The area was dense with high grasses and prickly pears and clusters of post oaks.
“It’s rough country out there,” he said.
An oilfield worker first noticed the horse at 1:15 p.m. on the dusty road.
“It was just in the middle of the road,” said B.J. Pegg. “It was kind of weird. It’s saddle was still on it, so I called 911.”
Firefighters, deputies and paramedics/EMS were combing the woods and pastures using all-terrain vehicles. A helicopter was also contacted but could not respond due to storms.
“I sure hope it’s just a horse that has broken free of its reins, because if someone is lying out there somewhere, heat is definitely going to be a factor,” said Sheriff David Walker. “We’re not going to stop looking until we find them.”
The search ended at 4:30 p.m. when the rider, who lives just north of Alvord, was found.
She’d been thrown off her horse at 11 a.m. After walking a three-plus mile trek back home, she jumped in her pickup truck and started looking for her horse.
“She was skinned up, but she refused any medical treatment,” Walker said.
The woman was soon reunited with her horse, and the blood on the horse was believed to be from insect bites.