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Few leads in horse disappearance near 108 Mile Ranch

Owner said she won’t stop searching until Jack and Jill are home
The brand on the two missing horses. (Photo submitted).

The owner of a pair of horses that mysteriously disappeared from Spruce Hills near 108 Mile Ranch last month continues to seek leads on their whereabouts, even consulting animal communicators.

Valaurie Wettstein said she won’t give up searching until her two nine-year-old Fjord crosses - called Jack and Jill - are back home. The horses went missing from the Flying Rooster Farm, where they were temporarily relocated to be used for sleigh rides, on Dec. 18.

“I’m kind of going with my gut right now. If there are areas where they could go be, I go out,” Wettstein said. “My gut feeling is they might still be in the area, in someone’s backyard.”

100 Mile RCMP Staff Sgt. Svend Nielsen said police have few leads on the two horses, which police suspect were stolen, given there were no hoofprints leading away from the farm. Searchers also spent the past months scouring the area on horseback, ATVs and on foot, while drones and a plane were used in the early days to see if the pair could be spotted.

“Something is definitely suspicious about it, it leads us to believe they were stolen,” Nielsen said, adding it would have taken some time to steal the horses. “It’s kind of a mystery, the fact that two horses, that are built for a specific purpose, were stolen at the time they are generally used for (sleigh rides).

“At this point, there’s no information where they’ve gone to. It’s troubling.”

Police questioned a potential person of interest but they were cleared of any involvement, Nielsen said. He said while the occasional cow has been stolen in the South Cariboo, it’s unusual to be faced with horse thieves.

They’re hoping more tips will come in, noting the horses are easily identifiable because of their breed, colouring and brand. Wettstein described Jill as caramel-coloured with a black and blond mane, while Jack is roan with a shorter and “messy” black and grey mane. Both have been branded - with a diamond on top of an upside-down E - on their front left shoulders.

Wettstein, who has been searching on horseback almost every day, said she hoped the horses may have tried to return home to the Wettstone Guest Ranch in Bridge Lake, which is about 60 kilometres from Spruce Hills with a lot of fences in between. Since their disappearance, however, there has been a lot of snow in the area, and still no signs of horse tracks.

She has reached out to the BC SPCA and the B.C. brand inspector, who will give the information to the B.C. and Alberta auction grounds. She is also in touch with several animal communicators, who try to connect with the horses’ spirit or energy. Most of them have said the horses are together, which Wettstein said gives her “hope and motivation that they’re OK.

“I just can’t relax or feel good until I actually see them and they’re back. It’s tiring not knowing what else I can do,” she said. “Every night I dream about them, their whereabouts and what they’re doing. Sometimes it’s like a nightmare.”

She said she is grateful for the support she has received, both locally and across Canada and the U.S. She is offering a reward for the horses’ return.

“That makes me feel a little better that people are actually helping and continuing to help and not giving up,” she said. “I won’t give up until I find them.”

Anyone with information on the horses’ whereabouts is asked to call 250-706-9369.