An award-winning polo horse was killed in a Thermal pasture after being shot multiple times Wednesday morning, according to its owner.
Missy, a 6-year-old mare, was shot five to six times in a Jackson Street pasture where owner Cameron Smith of Washington boards his horses after the summer polo season.
The horse, worth about $40,000, was one of Smith’s best, winning Best Playing Pony in the Seattle Polo Club Championship at the Seattle Polo & Equestrian Club in August. She has also played in matches at The Empire Polo Club in Indio.
Cameron’s father, Ben Smith, said he thinks Missy may have been killed around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, when neighbors reported barking dogs.
When Missy’s body was first discovered, it was assumed that she had been attacked by coyotes until bullet wounds and a discarded bullet were discovered.
“We have no idea what happened,” Ben Smith said. “It looks like a random act, like someone decided to try out their gun on a horse.”
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that investigators were called out to the scene Thursday on reports of a dead horse “with obvious signs of trauma,” but declined to comment any further pending a full investigation. Spokesman Deputy Armando Munoz said the incident was being investigated as an animal cruelty case.
Investigators with the Riverside County Department of Animal Services were also on scene, according to spokesman John Welsh, who said this case is one of the more bizarre his department has responded to.
“We deal with odd things all the time where you wonder what people are thinking,” he said. “If it turns out that someone went purposely out of their way to hurt a horse, that’s disgusting.”
Investigators are currently evaluating their next move, Welsh said, which could include a necropsy. Regardless of the horse’s price, he hopes to bring her justice.
At six, Missy had a long polo career in front of her, Ben Smith said, one that will now never be realized.
“It was pretty devastating,” he said. “Somebody has to be a pretty big coward to shoot a horse standing out in a field.”