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Police are called in to hoof it in chase for miniature horse

September 01, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN - In an exhausting half-hour chase Thursday after an escaped miniature horse, a Washington County Sheriff's Department deputy had his share of close calls, watching and wincing as the gelding stopped traffic, jumped guardrails and galloped in and out of his sight.

With help from a couple of Huntzberry Brothers Inc. workers, Deputy 1st Class Tom Routzahn finally caught up to Giddy-up, a young gray-and-white miniature horse, at a Hagers Crossing construction site near the Centre at Hagerstown, about six miles from the horse's home in the 15200 block of National Pike.

"I never dreamed he'd go to the shopping center," said his owner, Crystal Myers.

Myers said her family got Giddy-up four days before his escape. The young miniature horse was tied to a stake and broke from his lead, escaping through a fence that is being built to contain him.

She said she noticed him missing around 6 a.m. and began a search later in the morning when family members were able to help. Routzahn noticed the horse wandering around McDade Road at about 11 a.m. and called in reinforcements to help track him down.

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Like a criminal in the backseat of a police cruiser, Giddy-up's eyes and stance shifted as he stood inside a Humane Society of Washington County van. Giddy-up occasionally nudged an apple a deputy offered him from his lunch. One bite had been taken from it.

Humane Society Supervisory Animal Control Officer C. Sahaydak ran her hands over his sides. Construction vehicles backed up and beeped around them. She said horses aren't used to standing on a metal floor and Giddy-up was probably uncomfortable.

Giddy-up had taunted Routzahn, who chased him around McDade Road, U.S. 40, Md. 144 and The Centre at Hagerstown.

Routzahn said he crossed the median to U.S. 40 several times as Giddy-up switched course.

At one point, Routzahn said he had the horse cornered at McDonald's parking lot, but Giddy-up bailed, jumping a guardrail.

Steven Boyer, 29, a utility pipe layer for Huntzberry Brothers Inc., was driving a loader when he saw the small horse among the gravel and construction equipment.

"I jumped out of the loader, ran down here and grabbed him by the collar," Boyer said. "The cops couldn't catch him. He was too fast," Boyer said with a laugh.

At one point during the high trot chase, a woman driving a silver car stopped to help after watching Routzahn trying to coax the horse off the road.

"As soon as he saw her, he ran off," he said.

Lt. Tim Baker took a soap bucket from headquarters and filled it with pebbles. He figured if he found the horse, he could coax him into believing he had food.

Myers said Giddy-up, who was named by her 2-year-old daughter Kelsey, was not punished for escaping.

At about 4 p.m., Giddy-up was napping.

Myers said, "I guess he had a long day."

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