Riders search for horse, missing since Sept. 20

 Wallace: ‘We need some help’

By Kevin Spradlin

Jennifer Williams traveled to Richmond County from Cocke County, Tenn., to enjoy a trail ride with her horse, Bliss. She never figured she’d go home alone.

Bliss is a 5-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse. At 16 hands, he’s big. He’s fast. And during a satellite ride with members of the Sandhills Trail Ride group that had started at the J. Robert Gordon Field Trial Area, Williams came off Bliss. Another rider stepped towards Bliss to grab hold of his bridle. Bliss was spooked, and ran.

Submitted photo Bliss, a 6-year-old Tennessee Walker, has been missing since Sept. 20 after being separated from his rider in the Sandhills game lands between Hoffman and Millstone.

Submitted photo
Bliss, a 5-year-old Tennessee Walker, has been missing since Sept. 20 after being separated from his rider in the Sandhills game lands between Hoffman and Millstone.

Bliss hasn’t been seen since.

“The girls are from Tennessee,” said Janet Wallace, who leads the group rides twice a year. “It’s the first time they had been to my ride. I don’t know if the horse spooked (or) perhaps a little unsteady on sand.”

In some 12,000 acres of section A of the Sandhills game lands, and about 63,000 acres in all, the horse could be anywhere. What’s worse, the horse has no familiarity with the land “so (it) probably doesn’t know how to come back.”

Wallace said the horse is fully tacked, with saddle and bridle.

“We’ve found nothing,” Wallace said after nine full days of a search that has pulled in volunteers from across the region.

“Horse people tend to pull together,” Wallace said, “as do many groups that have so much in common. Is the horse hung up somewhere? Are we looking in the wrong place? Did someone load the horse and take it? Is it stalled in a barn? We don’t know.”

Wallace said Williams is heartbroken over what everyone hopes will be a temporary separation.

She said Bliss is “surrounded by hayfields and water” and could simply be taking advantage of an opportunity for individual outdoor recreation. That would be a best-case scenario — one that continues to have hope for a happy ending.

“That’s what we’re hanging on to,” Wallace said. “We’re hoping we’re looking in the wrong place. We’re hoping that one of our community people may not know about it yet and is taking care of it.”

For that, Wallace said, Williams and Wallace and all the volunteers involved in the search would be extremely grateful to have the horse returned.

Wallace said she’s checked in with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Richmond County Animal Control, the North Carolina Forest Service and the game warden. So far, nothing.

“We’ve got fliers up,” Wallace said. “We need some help.”

But Williams, 33, remains cautiously optimistic.

“If he’s still out there, either he’s stolen or he’s still out there,” Williams said. “It’s hard for me to see him getting into those thick woods. My horse is a loner. He doesn’t care a bit of he’s out there by himself. I just keep hoping and praying he’s just going to show up. I’ll never give up on him.”

If the horse is spotted, please call Wallace at 910-334-3204.

Filed in: Featured News, Hoffman, Latest Headlines, News, Outdoors

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  • http://peedeepost.com Trucker

    This is just an idea, but the Army (Camp Mackall) use this area as a training area(Land Navigation) course for the Special Forces “Q” School candidates. If this horse is anywhere in or near their perimeter, it will be seen by them. Try contacting the Army Special Warfare School at Ft. Bragg and ask for their help. I’d bet my bottom dollar that some of them has already spotted the horse but didn’t know the situation. That’s your best bet of getting him back unless he’s been stolen.

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