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MAGNA — The Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office Mounted Posse was back out Saturday morning, searching a Magna field where several horses were found dead Friday.
A neighbor called Salt Lake County Animal Services Friday after finding the horses in a field near the Pleasant Green Cemetery, 9200 W. 3500 South, according to the Unified Police Department. Animal control officials then contacted UPD to investigate the incident.
Mounted posse volunteers began searching the field Friday evening and ultimately found 11 horses, 10 of which were dead. The volunteer searchers were back at it early Saturday morning.
"We didn't feel comfortable enough (to end the search Friday)," said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Robert Burton, coordinator for the mounted posse. "We weren't able to search the field as well as we wanted to."
"It's sad. There's no need for it," said Larry Milburn, a mounted posse volunteer. "It takes a lot to kill a horse. I hate to make it sound cruel, but it truly does."
No more horses were found in Saturday's search. Now, the investigation to determine exactly what happened begins.
One man who claimed to know the horses' owner told KSL News he knows what happened. The man didn't want to be identified but said the owner never gave the horses water.
The water trough in the field was bone dry.
"Well, they have a water wagon to haul water to these horses," the man said, "but they never would check on them to water them."
"That seems like the obvious situation, but we don't know that for sure," said Mike Reberg, director of Salt Lake County Animal Services.
Before jumping to conclusions, Reberg wants to see the results of a necropsy on the horses.
"It could be a disease that struck the herd," he said. "We just don't know yet."
Authorities said the owner of the horses is cooperating with investigators. KSL News left a message for him to get his side of the story, but our message wasn't returned Saturday evening.
No matter what the cause, Milburn said it's just not fair.
"For something like this to happen, it's horrible," he said.
The bodies of the dead horses were taken to Logan. An animal expert there will perform the necropsy and hopefully be able to determine the animals' cause of death.
As for the one horse still alive, it was returned to its owner and was reported to be doing well Saturday.