There is a deepening mystery as to the fate of a Merritt Cowboy, last seen Saturday afternoon.
Dozens of volunteers with multiple search and rescue teams have been searching for 32-year-old Ben Tyner, the manager of the Nicola Ranch, since Monday when his horse was found without a rider.
Hunter Kim Robinson told Global News he found the horse about seven kilometres up a logging road, still fully-equipped.
“He had one rein hanging there so I thought something wasn’t right, so I went to catch him,” Robinson said. “He was a nice-looking horse, he had good rigging on him, but he was a bit jumpy. Every time I’d go close to him he’d step on that rein and kind of spook himself.”
Robinson said he’d been active in the area for about a month, and hadn’t seen any tracks between the Nicola Ranch and where he found the horse.
WATCH: Missing Merritt cowboy Ben Tyner on Global News
Police have been investigating the possibility that the horse was driven into the area with a truck and trailer, but said Wednesday they had not made contact with anyone who may have transported the animal.
Local resident Gerry Desilets, who helped searchers figure out who the riderless horse belonged to, said when he spoke to the Nicola Ranch, he was told none of its trucks or trailers were missing.
“With all the searching and looking they’ve done, they’ve come to… the conclusion that he must have been hauled up here, and so that’s what’s kind of making things a little bit puzzling,” he said.
“If someone hauled him up here, why they’re not coming forward?”
Tyner’s parents and brother arrived in Merrit on Wednesday to join the search.
Ben’s brother Jack posted to Facebook earlier this week, thanking volunteers and asking for prayers for Ben.
Robinson said he believes if anyone can make it through the ordeal, it might be Tyner — despite temperatures dipping into the range of minus 18 in recent days.
“He’s a big, stout guy; he’s been around,” he said. “So if anybody could survive it, that’s the kind of guy who could. Some of us couldn’t, but some guys, there are a few guys out there who’ve got it in them.”
He added that the search has brought out the best in the community.
“There’s a lot of good people around here doing a lot and really trying. And people who aren’t even really good are out there trying, and that’s good to see because everybody understands, ‘What if it was my son?'”