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Runner finds missing horse near Coupeville

Jesse Caravan and Lindsey VanWetter greet Rebel Thursday morning. The horse came home to the Freeland farm after being missing in the Kettles Trail for 13 days.   - submitted image
Jesse Caravan and Lindsey VanWetter greet Rebel Thursday morning. The horse came home to the Freeland farm after being missing in the Kettles Trail for 13 days.
— image credit: submitted image

Coupeville Public Works Director Malcolm Bishop unintentionally solved the mystery of the missing horse when he went out for his morning run Thursday.

As he was about to enter the Kettles Trail, the horse was coming out and heading for Highway 20. Rebel, an 8-year-old gelding, had been missing in the extensive trail system near Coupeville for 13 days after being spooked and running off into the bushes. Bishop didn't even know there was a horse at large, but he realized the confused animal needed help.

"I tied it to a post, but the horse busted loose and followed me," he said.

Bishop led the horse to his house and offered him some water. He drank four buckets. Bishop called the 911 dispatch center to report his find. Soon Rebel's owner, Freeland resident Megan Caravan, was on her way.

"It's a happy ending. It's just great," Caravan said Thursday morning after picking up the horse. "He's relaxed, though he's staying really close to the watering trough."

Rebel was in good health, perhaps even better than before his woodland adventure. A veterinarian checked the horse Thursday afternoon and gave him a clean bill of health. Caravan said the small horse lost some weight, but looks fabulous.

"He is probably the size he is supposed to be normally," she said.

Rebel was still wearing a bridle and halter when he was found, but the saddle was missing. Caravan's son, Jesse, was riding Rebel with friends Aug. 28 when the saddle slipped and he got off the horse. Rebel turned his head into some bushes, got scared and high-tailed it into the woods.

Caravan said she's mystified at how Rebel could remain hidden for so long. She spent many, many hours riding the trails and she was far from alone. Family, friends, volunteers and members of the Backcountry Horseman scoured the area on foot and horseback. People came from as far as Bellingham to look. Volunteer searchers even brought tracking dogs.

"It's just been wonderful how so many people have helped," Caravan said.

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