Probe continues into skeletal remains of horse

January 29, 2010

Here, Breck Parkman has assembled all the horse bones he could find including the skull. The saddle is seen in the foreground, in a relocated position.

The horse's jaw. The upper teeth appear to be in good condition.

Archaeologist Breck Parkman continues to piece together the mystery surrounding the skeletal remains of a fully tacked-up horse found in a California state park.

The remains, found in late November in Samuel P. Taylor State Park, on California's north coast, have piqued the interest of Parkman, the state parks senior archaeologist, who hopes to identify the remains and how they came to be there.

Evidence to date suggests the remains, which Parkman has called The Horse with No Name, date back to the 1970s.

"Interestingly enough, there's still a considerable international interest in this story," Parkman noted on his Facebook page.

Parkman says that Jay Palm, of Jay Palm Saddle Co, has been examining the saddle from the horse.

"He believes that the saddle is probably a Simco brand saddle, although we've yet to find any maker's marks on it.

"Jay knows the fellow who runs the saddle company that used to make Simco, and he's been talking to him.

"When Jay first saw a photo of the saddle, he felt pretty certain that his dad had worked on it sometime in the 1960s or 1970s. "Jay thought he recognised his dad's handiwork. But upon seeing the actual saddle, Jay no longer believes his dad worked on it.

"However, I've learned that the owner, now deceased, of the horse that I consider to be the most likely candidate did business in the 1970s with Jay's saddle company when his dad owned it.

"In the mid-1970s, this woman's horse disappeared from its stables less than a mile from where the Horse with No Name was found last November.

"In addition to this likely candidate, there are at least three other 'missing' Marin County horses from the 1970s-1980s that I've learned of."

"I will be delivering the horse bones to Dr Deb Bennett, of the Equine Studies Institute.

"[She] is a renowned horse expert, formerly with the Smithsonian. She has offered to analyse the bones for me with the hope of identifying the horse's gender, age, stature, and breed.

"She may be able to tell us the cause of death, too.

"I've inventoried a lot of tooth marks on the horse's long bones, most of which are from rodents and small scavengers. However, a considerable number of the marks were made by a large predator.

"Additionally, I've located a conical hole in the leather bridle that looks to have come from a large canine (probably a lion but maybe a coyote). The tooth mark is on the part of the bridle that would have corresponded with a suffocation hold."

Parkman said a state park peace officer is looking through old police reports to see if there are any that reference stolen horses.

"We may find that there are additional candidates for the Horse with No Name. "Once the saddle, bones, and records have been analysed, I think there's a very good possibility that we'll know who this horse was and perhaps what became of it. That should be about a month from now."

Aside from the rarity of finding a fully tack-up skeleton, there are to two other unusual aspects to the skeleton.

There was no saddle blanket and the halter had been put on backwards.