Owner, others search for frightened horse
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 6:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 6:01 p.m.
Robin Schadt can't remember exactly what spooked her 13-year-old Arabian named Maruf as she rode the gelding through the Goethe State Forest in Levy County recently, but whatever it was scared Maruf enough that he ran into the dense woods and seemingly disappeared.
"He dumped me. I took a pretty good hit to the head. It threw me for a loop and I'm fuzzy about the details," said Schadt, who was in the forest participating in a 22-mile endurance trail ride on Jan. 12.
Schadt, a standardbred racehorse trainer based in Illinois, spends her winters in South Florida training younger horses for the race track.
"Training is a six day a week job. When I can take a weekend off here or there, I like to participate in endurance riding," she said.
She bought Maruf in 2008 specifically to participate in those types of rides.
"The worst thing was hauling an empty trailer back. It's heartbreaking," she said.
Maruf, who is gray in color, has never run off before. Schadt was riding the Orange Trail in the forest when the horse bolted near Buck Island Pond after they had traveled about 12 miles from the Tidewater Trailhead near Dunnellon.
He was spotted Jan. 16 near the same area where he broke loose, close to County Road 337 in Levy County.
"He's a very social horse. He likes other horses, so I am surprised he hasn't come out on the trail by now," Schadt said.
Schadt was not seriously hurt in the fall and was helped by other riders just behind her.
"Some of the girls behind me saw him take off. He went through the palmettos and was gone," she said. "It's so dense out there that he could be 50 yards away from me and I'd never know it."
She doesn't think the horse was injured and should be still wearing its saddle and halter.
"He's an endurance horse, so he could conceivably move quite a ways from where he ran off. There's plenty of food and water around for him to eat, and he's used to living outside," Schadt said. "But he really loves carrots and apples, and he's probably missing those."
Members of the area's horse community have come out to search for the horse on horseback, all-terrain vehicles, bicycles and even on foot.
"It's overwhelming to me as to how the equine community has come together to try and find him. I really have appreciated all their help," Schadt said.
Anyone with information about Maruf is asked to call Schadt at 708-280-8241.