When a shot rang out near Shoenail Ranch in Pampa, Texas, around 1:30 p.m. on May 1, a barn hand rushed out to investigate. In the distance, he saw 3-week-old buckskin colt “Einey” motionless on the ground in the pasture. As the worker neared, his worst fears were realized – the colt was dead.
Ruth Hartman, who owns Shoenail Ranch, located approximately 55 miles northeast of Amarillo, Texas, rushed home from work after receiving a call from her husband, Willem. By the time she arrived, the Gray County Sheriff’s Department was already on the scene.
“The police seem to think it was some juveniles here in town playing some sort of sick game,” said Hartman, 54. “He [Einey], his mother, three other colts and three other mares were all turned out together. He was just out there playing, having a 3-week-old time, and somebody thought they needed to take it away from him, I guess.”
Although no bullets or shells were recovered from the scene, Hartman said the weapon used to kill the foal was likely a high-powered rifle, as the bullet entered the foal’s chest and exited through his backend. None of the other horses in the approximately 10-acre field were injured.
Shortly after the incident, Hartman turned to Facebook in an effort to find witnesses. In her post, she offered a $1,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the person or persons involved. Her family and the horse community quickly responded, donating extra cash to increase the reward to $3,500. As of noon May 3, the post had 8,208 shares, approximately 7,100 reactions and 3,476 comments.
“It’s amazing how the horse industry has come together to help find somebody who is this cruel,” Hartman said. “I’m real proud of the reining horse people for stepping up to the plate and helping out.”
According to Hartman, this is not the first time an equid has suffered a similar fate to Einey’s in the Pampa area. She said she spoke to a man whose donkey was killed about one month before in the same fashion.
“The donkey was shot in the same manner, in the chest. I think this was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” she said, noting she occasionally sees Facebook posts about horses being shot in other parts of the country. “I don’t care who it is, they’re fixing to get prosecuted if we can find who did it.”
Einey, whose American Quarter Horse Association registration was pending as Who Whiz Einstein, was by Equi-Stat Elite $1 Million Sire Einsteins Revolution and out of the Who Whiz It mare Kid Wodys Wizet. His death came just a few weeks after wildfires ravaged the Texas Panhandle, killing six of Shoenail Ranch’s 11 broodmares in an 800-plus-acre pasture located in Wheeler County.
“You work up the money to breed the mare, then you wait for a year for it to be born,” she said. “Then a few weeks later, somebody takes it all away from you. This was supposed to be one I was going to compete on; it just didn’t work out that way.”
A Gray County Sheriff’s Department investigator declined to comment; however, the case is still open. Check back with Quarter Horse News for updates.