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Search under way for horse that ran off in Pierce County; owner appeals for help

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ELBE, Wash. -- A horse owner is asking riders, hikers and campers in Pierce County to keep their eyes open. Her horse ran off into the woods several days ago and hasn’t been seen since.

Judy Johnston says the horses on her Olympia farm have been acting differently since Dino, a 15-year-old Arabian, went missing.

"Horses are very emotional, the Arabians are."

On Friday, Judy and a friend took their horses to a trail in Elbe Hills State Forest in Pierce County. When they stopped to fix a cut on Judy’s arm, Dino took off up a hill. Her friend searched for him for hours.

“She went up the hill as far as she could go, and he had disappeared.”

Dino has been a show horse most of his life and is not used to being in the wilderness. That’s why Judy is worried what condition he might be in.

“By himself, I’m not sure. Going over the creeks, I’m not sure.”

She put a message on Facebook a couple days ago, and said animal lovers from around the state have been offering to search the trails on foot, on horseback, even from the air in a helicopter.

“I appreciate everything that everybody’s doing. But I wish he would be found, we’re supposed to have hot days coming in, and so it’s a matter of time is of the essence.”

She says people who haven’t been around horses a lot might not understand the kind of bond that develops between the animals and their owners over time.

“It’s deeper than a dog or cat, it’s much deeper. This is why I’m so emotional about this, because he is a great part of our lives.”

She’s hoping someone finds him, and makes sure he gets the care he needs.

“All these horses are family but he’s a special boy.”

If you see Dino, you can contact the Johnston farm at

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  • Cheryl

    Do not know why a show horse would be taken in the woods as too high strung. A good trail horse better for that kind of thing. The only horse I would have would not run off on his own.I hope he is found safe soon. He is no match for a cougar out there.

    • Liz

      Do you know the horse or anything about him…or his owner for that matter?? Lots of show horses love to go trail riding, it’s something different, a change of scenery and helps with training. A horse doesn’t have to be labeled as a “trail horse” to enjoy it. Maybe something spooked him, that happens to “trail horses” too….they’re ALL prey animals first and foremost. I hope she finds her boy, how devastated they must be.

    • Jaime

      Cheryl, I took my Arabian mare to this exact same campground many times with no issues. Just because a horse is a show horse, it doesn’t mean they can’t excel at other things. This horse is 15 years old, the owner did nothing unreasonable in taking him up there.

  • Christina sanchez-mendoza

    I have rounded up a group of 18 people total so far we have dogs, four wheelers,and horse back I also have a mild tranquilizer and stretcher of he is hurt to bring him back in his own trailer of we find him. Our search and rescue group well do everything in our power to bring judy’s beloved Dino home

  • Courtney

    Soooooo no report made yet???
    Would be a great place to start by listing the horse as missing on the nations biggest “Stolen/Missing/Lost” horse database…. Just sayin.

  • Barbara

    Cheryl, how about support instead of a dumb comment? I have three show Arabs that have shown at national level. They’ve also done most of the pct in Washington, competed endurance, done
    Parades etc. horses are versatile, and a show Arab can also be an excellent trail horse. Any horse can have a moment of poor judgement and this horse did that. I hope he can be safely found, since he was clearly very loved.

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  • Debi

    tolen Horse International, Inc. aka $2000 REWARD for Missing Horse -NICHOLSEN TRAIL SYSTEM ELBE WA-Dino a.k.a JF Psyches Messiah- A 15 year old bay arabian-While working on the trail Dino got away and ran off onto the trail. Please copy and paste into your pages and lets bring Dino home! Print flyer from this link and see all details.

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