Carlito the neglected horse has found a Routt County home |

Carlito the neglected horse has found a Routt County home

Nicole Inglis

Graham Kindred, 4, feeds a carrot to a rescued horse at Sidney Peak Ranch on Feb. 17 while barn manager Rachel Ratkovich watches. It was the first carrot that Carlito took from a person since he was rescued nearly five weeks ago.

— Carlito the horse has gained another 30 pounds or so in the past few weeks. He even gets to romp around a pasture at Sidney Peak Ranch without one of his blankets.

And today, after recovering for more than a month from starvation and neglect, he will be taken to his new home.

His new owner, a woman from North Routt County, who recently lost a horse of her own, was touched when she read about Carlito's plight in a Feb. 18 article in the Steamboat Today, said Courtney Diehl, the veterinarian who has been handling Carlito's case.

"She just loves him, and it was his sweet personality that won her over," Diehl said.

Diehl said the new owner has been to the ranch to visit him several times, and Carlito will make the journey to his new home today.

"I think it's a heartwarming outcome," Diehl said. "I think the jury is still out on what will happen down the road with Carlito, but so far, so good. His level of comfort has improved considerably."

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Carlito is a Peruvian Paso, and vets estimate he is about 15 years old.

With the help of Diehl, Routt County Animal Control officers rescued him from a property near Stagecoach on Jan. 26, where neighbors had noticed he was starving and spending a lot of time laying down.

The owner agreed to surrender the horse under the condition it would not be euthanized.

Carlito was also not alone in his former pasture. His grazing partner, another Peruvian Paso named Blaze, also lives there.

Blaze's situation is being monitored closely, and he could be removed, as well.

Routt County Undersheriff Ray Birch said there is no current investigation into the horses' owner and no criminal charges have been filed.

When he was first brought to Sidney Peak, Carlito weighed 918 pounds, putting him at the lowest rating on the Henneke Body Score index that rates equine musculature.

Along the way, donations of farrier services from Scott Whinfrey, food from Yampa Valley Feed and acupuncture from Andi Kohler at the Animal Healing Center helped Carlito's recovery. Barn manager Rachel Ratkovich and several Sidney Peak Ranch boarders also volunteered their time.

When he was able, Carlito was supposed to be transported to Mountain Valley Horse Rescue in Eagle to be adopted out, but his savior ended up coming from here in Routt County.

Though Diehl knows this isn't the end to the chronic issue of animal abuse and neglect, she said Carlito's story of survival can start a conversation.

"I think it's just generally raising awareness within the community that this is in our backyards," Diehl said. "When they see something questionable they need to get involved. They need to call animal control. Even if you don't know what's going on, just have them investigate. They don't always know that they can be anonymous."

— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or e-mail

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