Arizona rescue groups are working to save horses on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, in the Grand Canyon. They said the horses, used to transport goods and people up and down the canyon wall, are sometimes over-packed and undernourished.
One of those horses is Samson, who is blind and underweight. He was rescued from Havasupai land after his owner relinquished him to animal control. It took rescue workers five and half hours to walk him out of the canyon.
He’s now getting used to his new life at Equine Voices Rescue and Sanctuary near Green Valley.
“Samson was used as a wrangler. He was ridden up and down the canyon wall multiple times a day,” explained Equine Voices Ranch Manager, Ricky Williams. “You know, when you're worked that hard, it doesn't fare well.”
For the past year, the Havasupai tribe has been under increased scrutiny for mistreatment of mules and horses used on the canyon trail. Some members have even faced criminal charges.
So the Humane Society recently organized a trip onto reservation lands for local rescue workers, including volunteers from Equine Voices and Healing Hearts Animal Rescue and Refuge.
In addition to rescuing Samson, volunteers worked with animal owners in the tribe to educate them on proper horse care. The mission was the first of its kind onto the reservation lands.
“We taught them a lot about horse care and we really worked with the tribe,” said Williams. “We were able to service about seventy horses- trimming hooves, floating teeth, vaccinations.”
Staff members are hopeful this new partnership will lead to more understanding and a better future for the animals.
As for Samson, his road to recovery is just beginning.
“He's going to really need to start from scratch again and re-learn what he knew in the past,” said Williams. “He'll really have to learn trust here as he's at the ranch and he'll get plenty of that. And we're happy just to be a part of it.”