CHARLOTTE, MICH. - Prince gave countless sleigh and carriage rides during local festivals and events throughout Eaton County over the last decade.
Last week, the 12-year-old Belgian draft horse was found in a pasture off North Ainger Road, dead from an apparent gun shot to his heart and lung area.
He was one of two horses shot and killed Nov. 21 in what police believe could have been an intentional act.
Their death doesn't appear to be a hunting related or accidental, said Sgt. Todd Thorn of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Owner Kelsie Newman said Monday her family "can't think of a single person who would do this."
"We've cried for days about it."
Newman returned home after a class at Olivet College at around 4 p.m. on Nov. 21 to find Prince, her family's 12-year-old Belgium draft horse, lying on the ground in one of the property's pastures.
"I saw him lying there," Newman said. "I thought it was strange, so I yelled out his name."
Duke, another of the family's draft horses, was found standing next to his body. He had sustained one gun shot wound to the shoulder, Newman said.
"He was in really bad shock," she said. "He was shaking."
Newman's 17-year-old quarter horse, Solo, who she's shown competitively for the past 11 years, was located in a separate pasture. He's sustained a gunshot wound to his stomach. He died the next day of his injuries in the family barn, Newman said.
"He was the best horse we've ever had," Newman said. "I had a really close bond with him and was very, very attached."
Eaton County Undersheriff Jeff Cook called the likely crime "sickening."
Cook said police believe the horses were shot sometime between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Nov. 21. He declined to discuss the direction of the gun shots and the type of gun used. Both are part of the ongoing investigation into the incident, Cook said Monday.
"We're asking anyone who may have seen or heard anything to call us," he said.
Newman said her family was "nowhere near prepared to lose two horses in one day."
Prince and Duke gave carriage and sleigh rides at numerous local festivals, including Charlotte Frontier Days and Grand Ledge's Color Cruise. They've also given rides at Reverman Tree Farm in Grand Ledge, the Country Mill in Charlotte and at Woldumar Nature Center in Lansing.
Newman said there's been an outpouring of support for her family since the incident.
"We've had so many people stop by and message us, call us," she said. "We really appreciate their support."
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Eaton County Sheriff's Office at 517-543-5519 or 517-543-5447.
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