Missing Mahwah horse ‘Chief’ found after 9-day search

In Their Own World by Lesley Harrison

An Oakland family whose prized horse disappeared deep into the woods of Mahwah last week––prompting a psychic and plane-aided manhunt across two states––was reunited with “Chief” Monday afternoon.

The Bergen County Police Department and Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli confirmed that Chief was found by two people near the Tennessee Gas Pipeline at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, nine days after he dashed into the woods around Stagg Hill.

Chief ran off on Saturday, March 15 after he slipped on ice and the rider dismounted, owner Denise Vulgaris told NJ.com last week.

The manhunt spanned New York and New Jersey by land and by air, with searches encompassing the Ramapo Valley County Reservation, the New Jersey Botanical Garden in Ringwood, along Route 202 and even into Rockland County, NY towns.

The Vulgaris family rented a private plane out of Greenwood Lake Airport, but the aerial search didn’t lead to Chief’s location. Psychics from across the country told the family the Chief would be found within four miles of the barn, further stating that the gentle giant probably went to other nearby barns.

The Vulgaris family saved Chief, a Paint Horse with with black and white markings, years prior from a slaughterhouse, the family told NJ.com last week. Their 15-year-old daughter Makenzie had grown increasingly worried as the search morphed from hours to days.

The Vulgaris family could not be immediately reached for comment, but authorities said Chief is in good condition.

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