Mounted patrol horse Deputy Charley of the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office, has died from illness, said Sheriff Steve Nowlin.
Charley had been sick for several months, Nowlin said, and was being treated, but it became more serious in January. He had been receiving daily treatment by the Sheriff Office’s veterinarian. He died Jan. 31.
“He was not in pain, and it was quick,” Nowlin said. “We’re torn up. He was a good horse – lot of personality – and he did his job well.”
Charley was born in 2012 as a wild mustang in the Murderers Creek Herd Management Area in Grant County, Oregon. He was obtained by the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office from the Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Program in Cañon City in early 2017.
Charley became one of three mounted patrol horses for the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office and was certified as a police horse within the Mounted Patrol Unit.
Charley was mainly ridden by Sgt. John Hargraves on assignments and search and rescue operations, Nowlin said. In one rescue, Charley helped to find a lost autistic boy in McElmo Creek south of Cortez.
“Charley will be deeply missed, but never forgotten,” Nowlin said. “He was part of our family and the public’s family because they belong to the people.”
His badge and photo are displayed at the Sheriff’s Office.
Nowlin launched the mounted patrol unit in 2017. The horses completed a 120-day training program, and their deputy riders also went through training.
The deputies learned everything from anatomy, first aid, equine care, routine patrolling and crowd-control procedures. They tend to their horses daily, grooming, feeding and working with them.
Deputies and their horses also completed an Equine Scent Training Clinic in 2017 where the horses learned to pick of the scent of hidden volunteers and had to successfully find them.
The Mounted Patrol Unit is used for a variety of regular patrols, public safety, crime prevention, special events and programs throughout Montezuma County. Some of these include the Four Corners Ag Expo, Home and Garden Show, Montezuma County Fair, Ute Mountain Rodeo, Dolores River Fest, and Escalante Days.
Efforts are underway to train a new mounted patrol horse to replace Charley.