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Diamond's wild ride; stolen horse returns home after another one killed in its place Diamond's wild ride; stolen horse returns home after another one killed in its place

'You could sense he knew he was going home': private detective

Peterborough This Week
By Lois Tuffin

OMEMEE - Peter Moore felt he was looking for a needle in a haystack as he drove the country roads all summer, looking for a horse with a white diamond on its forehead.

Actually, the private detective was seeking a beloved rescue horse that had been missing from the United States for almost a year and was suspected to be living near Peterborough. And when he found it after the long search, tears ran down his face in relief.

"Out of the blue, I broke out in tears, which is ridiculous," Moore recalls with a laugh the day he looked Diamond in the eyes.

"It was emotional since I didn't believe we would find this horse."

Thanks to a team of horse lovers, a committed police officer and a tip via social media, he solved the case and returned Diamond home.

Here is how the story unfolded.

(Since no charges were laid, no names are being published that would identify the suspected thief.)

In September 2015, Diamond's owners called Moore looking for help. They had rescued and rehabilitated a standard quarter horse, forming a great emotional attachment during the process.

That horse, an expensive trailer and several sentimental items related to the family's relationship to the pet had been stolen and brought north of the border by a family member with dual citizenship.

The family had issued a court order to have Diamond returned. In an apparent act of conciliation, the family member agreed to bring the old horse home.

However, on the way, the trailer reportedly tipped over, fatally injuring the horse inside when it was struck by a stabilizing bar. The trailer driver had the horse euthanized and shared the sad news with the family.

They didn't believe him.

They called Moore instead.

The former police officer discovered the horse that was put to sleep did not match Diamond's description. He figures another horse was purchased and killed in Diamond's place in order to keep an upper hand in some family dispute.

Moore pushed on to find Diamond.

The suspected horse killer didn't have a stable at his home so he had to keep the horse hidden elsewhere. Moore networked with other horse owners to track Diamond to a farm near Norwood, but he had already moved to another barn.

"From that location, we had trouble finding him," Moore says, frustration rising in his voice.

He planted bait on social media and information started flooding in. From that data, he confirmed a possible new location near Omemee and the horse's new name.

"We started checking fields for every horse with a diamond on its forehead because diamonds are forever," Moore says.

"Soon, everything started looking like a diamond."

He and three other people would drive country roads, looking at horses then calling them over to the fence lines if they matched the missing horse's description. They didn't dare ask the farm owners about the animals they approached.

"If the suspects found out, the horse would be gone and never show up again," Moore determined.

Moore faced another hurdle as he knew he would have to act fast once he honed in on the horse. Getting Diamond back across the border, if they ever found him, would be challenging since he only had a family court order to act on. Meanwhile, the family only wanted the horse returned, without the hassle of criminal charges.

Moore found an ally in Kawartha Lakes OPP Const. Darrin Thompson. He called the family in the United States and created an occurrence report to proof the horse was stolen.

In late August, he went to the farm with Moore and confirmed Diamond's identity via a tattoo under his lip. The farm owner turned him over without incident, Moore says.

"You could sense he knew something was up and he was going home," Moore says. "He knew something good was happening."

After a short celebration and photos full of smiles, he and Thompson checked Diamond and found he had lost about 600 pounds in the past year of eating a very basic diet. As horse handlers loaded him into a trailer, the horse dove into a feed of fresh hay and warm oats.

"It couldn't have gone more smoothly," Moore says with a smile. "The family was ecstatic."

Over the next five weeks, Diamond recovered from his long journey away from home at another farm, gaining weight and strength. He returned to his family at a undisclosed location in late October.

The owners have since send Moore photos to show the healthy horse settling in to his new home.

Moore credits Const. Thompson for putting in the extra effort for the type of a case that police often cannot get do, given their caseload.

"It was a case we had never dealt with before," Moore says. "This wasn't a lost animal but a stolen horse. There were so many people instrumental in finding this horse. He really was a needle in a haystack."

"Once it started, it just snowballed and everything fell into place."

While he was paid well for the investigation, Moore admits it didn't bill his clients for the full number of hours he put into the case."

This one was more personal," he says.

Follow Lois Tuffin on Twitter @kawarthanews