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‘They’re family’: B.C. woman issues plea for help finding beloved missing draft horses

Jack and Jill, two fjord cross draft horses, went missing from a farm in 108 Mile Ranch, B.C. between Dec. 18 and 19, 2021, and their owner is pleading for their safe return. Courtesy: Valaurie Wettstein

A B.C. woman is offering a financial reward for the safe return of two beloved draft horses that went missing from a farm in the South Cariboo region earlier this month.

Jack and Jill disappeared between Dec. 18 and 19 from the Flying Rooster Farm in the 108 Mile Ranch community, and Valaurie Wettstein believes it’s possible they were stolen.

“My horses are very food motivated, they love to eat,” she told Global News on Monday. “It’s not like there’s lush green grass on the other side of the fence so I can’t see any motivation for them to go out and not come back.”

Jack and Jill are beloved members of the Valaurie Wettstein’s family, and a reward is being offered for their safe return. Courtesy: Valaurie Wettstein

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Wettstein and her family live in Bridge Lake and operate the Wettstone Guest Ranch, but Jack and Jill — two nine-year-old Fjord crosses — were at the Flying Rooster Farm temporarily to offer sleigh rides.

The pair was there for less than two days before they went missing from the herd of local horses inside a fenced field. None of the other horses are missing.

No gates were left open and while there were tracks by a part of the fence that was “a bit lower,” Wettstein said the tracks didn’t lead anywhere.

“We can’t really tell 100 per cent that they did get out on their own. Everything doesn’t really add up. It’s very strange.”

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Since the disappearance, Wettstein, her family and friends have searched high and low.

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Skiers have scoured the trails, drones have been sent into the air, and her partner surveyed the area in an airplane and didn’t see any sign of Jack and Jill.

The horses are trained to come when they’re called, she added, and if they were anywhere within earshot, they would have returned. “Unfortunately,” she said, they’re “so sweet” that a stranger would have been able to lead them away.

“I love them so much. They’re family,” said Wettstein. “We’ve had them for the last five years here and they’re on our property. I just love them to bits.”

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Wettstein said she has contacted the 100 Mile House RCMP and has received a case file number. Global News has reached out to the detachment for comment on this story.

Wettstein has also shared images of their brands with brand inspectors in the province in case they appear at an auction. Their brands may be obscured right now by their thick winter coats, she added.

Valaurie Wettstein says Jack and Jill are branded with a diamond on their left shoulders over an upside down letter ‘E.’. Courtesy: Valaurie Wettstein

Wettstein estimated the horses could sell for between $8,500 and $10,000 each. She isn’t revealing the amount of money she’s offering as a reward into order to avoid false leads and scam phone calls.

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She said the horses have a good layer of winter fat and can get water from the snow, and as long as they are able to find food, she isn’t too worried they won’t survive the extreme weather conditions.

Wettstein has asked anyone with information on Jack and Jill’s whereabouts to contact her at 250-706-9369.

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