Last Memorial Day, Susan Crawford went riding on her horse Playdoh. The trail suddenly gave out and spooked the horse who threw Susan and fled into the woods. She spent the next two weeks looking for him and sought help from every person or organization she could think of.
She got up early in the morning to go to the trail where she had last seen him, hoping that he would have returned. She posted pleas for help on social media. Playdoh’s story netted 10,000 shares and attracted media attention; local papers and TV stations reported the tale of the lost horse.
Susan and her friends hired a helicopter to look for the missing horse, but the forested terrain prevented the copter’s operators from spotting him. The League of Maryland Horsemen allowed Susan to conduct her searches from their camp, as volunteers combed the area. The League also hung hundreds of posters.
Through it all, Susan struggled with the possibility that she might not see her beloved horse again, “When he went missing, I could not sleep and my stomach rolled. I got up in the morning hoping to see him back at camp and each morning, I walked the trail where he was last seen, hoping to catch sight of him. I tried to come to terms with the worst case scenarios — he was hurt, he had been taken, he had been hit by a car. Trying to face the worst helped me put those thoughts aside and focus on doing everything I could to find him.”
Then, two weeks after Playdoh’s disappearance, Susan got a call. A woman named Emily Perryman phoned from New Jersey saying that she and her friends had found Playdoh. Susan was somewhat skeptical, for she had already experienced one false alarm in which the police had claimed to have found her horse. They had a lost horse – but it wasn’t Playdoh. Susan very much feared that Perryman’s horse would also turn out to not be Playdoh.
Nonetheless, she went to the Woodstock Inn where Perryman was keeping the horse. This time, it was Playdoh.
Emily Perryman had been hiking with two friends, David Sugar and Vlad Konstantinov, when they spotted a frightened horse that had all of his tack on. Some of the gear had gotten snagged on a nearby tree, so Playdoh could not move. The saddle had slipped to one side and was cutting into his back.
After calming the horse, the hikers cut him free and walked him back to the Woodstock Inn. Playdoh had a big gash on one leg, so he needed veterinary attention. Susan took him home and had her own vet check him out, and they reported that the wound was healing well. Playdoh had not suffered any other ill effects from his mishap.
Susan has advice for other people who lose beloved pets: “Post on social media immediately, call the local authorities, vets, humane society, and horse farms where they may have gone. Get someone to be a point person for you, as the response can be overwhelming.” Most importantly, a pet owner needs to avoid despair, “You have to keep going and hope that each day is bringing you one step closer to finding your pet.”