Wild Cave National Park, SD – On May 2, a horse named Finley disappeared from his owner’s campsite in Wind Cave National Park. A week later, park rangers were able to secure him after a visitor spotted him near a trailhead along the highway.
When Finley disappeared, his owner, Gin Szagola immediately turned to Facebook in an effort to find him. Szagola embarked on an exhaustive search to find her “best friend” who had been accompanying her on a cross-country trek from New Jersey to Oregon.
Szagola was not alone – search parties were organized and the Civil Air Patrol assisted as well. After a week of round-the-clock efforts, Szagola was beginning to lose hope, and began to fear the worst, writing on Facebook, “Last night the last thing I did was drive the perimeter of the park looking for vultures.”
But her horse was resilient and had managed to survive quite well on his own. In a May 9 news release, Wind Cave National Park said:
Custer County Dispatch notified the park at 7:55 a.m. of a dropped call from that area. When park rangers responded, they saw the horse. Park personnel led the horse into the park’s maintenance yard where it was soon reunited with its owner. The horse appeared to be in good shape after spending a week in the backcountry.
Aside from some scapes on a back leg, and dehydration, Finley was in remarkably good condition.
Park Superintendent Leigh Welling thanked those involved with the search-and-rescue efforts:
“We’d like to thank everyone who helped on this search, especially the Custer County Sherriff’s Office, Custer County Search and Rescue, Custer State Park, the South Dakota Wing of the Civil Air Patrol and the numerous people who on their own were looking for the horse,”
Finley’s owner expressed gratitude as well:
“The efforts to find him have been incredible. Just amazing. It has saved his life. I’m just at a loss for words, overwhelmed with relief that he is safe.”
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