01 October 2020
Allenstown, NH (1 October 2020)- On Friday evening (September 25th) Leo, a 17h chestnut Holsteiner gelding missing in Bear Brook State Park for 20 days, was found alive and walking freely on Saturday, September 26th.
Owned by Michael D Klein-McNeil, Leo went missing in the state park on September 6th of Labor Day weekend when Michael and his partner, Frederick M. Klein-McNeil, went riding in the state park. Michael lost his balance while dismounting, as he misjudged the distance to the ground in an area of steep terrain. Michael’s knees buckled and he fell, causing him to lose his grip on Leo’s reins. Realizing he was loose and scared by the awkward dismount, Leo ran up over the hill and vanished.
The Klein-McNeils posted news of the accident on Facebook and filed a report with NetPosse. Dozens of volunteers from the area mobilized to help the pair find their missing horse. Equestrians and volunteers from snowmobile clubs, hiking clubs, biking clubs and mountain biking clubs joined in the search for the next 20 days, splitting into day and night shifts combing the park for Leo. Sightings were reported throughout the 20 day period, but the chestnut horse wearing the brown saddle and green saddle pad moved quietly through the woods, and remained elusive.
On Friday, September 25th, two hikers found a stirrup from Leo’s saddle between Sentinel Pine and Carr Ridge—not far from where Leo went missing. Volunteers immediately returned to the area to search but did not see the horse. They did see two large eyes in the dark looking back at them through the trees, but they could not get to Leo.
On Saturday, the two anonymous hikers who had helped search for the horse from the start returned to the site, left their bikes behind, hiked into the woods and tracked Leo for an hour. They spotted Leo walking 30 feet off the trail in the deep woods, and soon he was resting on the ground. With no cell service in the area, the woman hiker had to run to the trail to call Frederick, reporting Leo found and uninjured, but malnourished and exhausted. Frederick called the vet and came immediately. He was a 5-minute walk away from Leo when their beloved horse passed peacefully in the woman’s arms.
They will never know what caused his death. Leo’s body was removed from the state park and buried on the Klein-McNeil’s farm.
Once the Covid-19 epidemic settles down Michael and Frederick will be holding a small ceremony in Bear Brook State Park to thank the volunteers for helping them search for and find Leo.
"Leo has passed and this page will now be turned into a focus group on trail and hacking education and safety. We will continue to post updates on Leo and his legacy as programs, services, and gatherings develop. We cannot thank the New England community enough for their love, compassion, and assistance", says Leo's owners Michael Klein-McNeil and
You can visit Leo's Legacy on Facebook by clicking here.
This article was written by volunteer Catherine Girard
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