The horse with no claim! How a Mexican girl’s mare wandered into Texas and was detained by park rangers – sparking a social media campaign that led a preacher to drive the animal back across the border – and into the loving arms of her family
- Three-year-old mare Corona escaped from her family’s home in Boquillas in mid August and wandered across the border into the US
- Her devastated owner, Edgar Ureste, discovered she was being held at a USDA facility over 100 miles away and he would have to pay a fee for her release
- He started a campaign asking for donations and a month later raised enough to bring her back home
A horse named Corona was deported from the US after she escaped from her Mexican home and waded across the Rio Grande into Texas, sparking a month-long campaign for to be returned to her family.
The three-year-old bay mare escaped from Edgar Ureste’s home in Boquillas, just across the border from the Big Bend National Park in Texas in mid-August.
Corona is the beloved ‘best friend’ of Ureste’s seven-year-old daughter, Camila, so when she vanished, the family were distraught.
Ureste – who works as a tour guide of the nearby canyon – tracked her hoof prints down to the river, and saw where they reappeared on the other side – in the US.
He had heard what happened to animals that trespassed in the national park – many were never seen again – so he quickly returned home to fetch another horse, a stallion named Satanas, and set off to find her.
Edgar Ureste’s daughter, Camila, 7, with her ‘best friend’ Corona after she was returned
Corona (left) waded across the Rio Grande to enter Texas
At first there was no sign of her, but instinct told him to check one of the enclosures and he found her corralled into a padlocked area where she whinnied in greeting.
But Ureste knew he had no hope of getting her out, he’d entered the park without permission so could not speak to officials.
Instead, he went back home and logged onto Facebook to appeal for help.
He shared a heartbreaking post that read: ‘My dear friend Corona (pictured on the left) made the mistake of crossing the river into big bend [national] park.
‘I could not get her back across before park rangers. She got picked up and taken away. The chances of us being together again are slim to none.
‘I’m trying to find out where she will end up at. I’m asking for your help to find out where she will end up. My family is heart broken, specially my 7 yr old daughter. Corona was her best friend.’
A minister from Austin, Deborah Glenn, came to his aid.
She contacted park officials on Ureste’s behalf and eventually discovered Corona had been transferred to a USDA facility in Presidio, over 100 miles northwest of her home.
It took nearly a month for Ureste to get Corona back after she escaped in mid-August
Edgar Ureste started a Facebook campaign to get Corona back and sold t-shirts with her face on to raise money to pay for her care
Glenn drove for eight hours to the site from Austin to check she was actually there.
Trespassing livestock is a big problem for the National Park as roving animals can destroy landmarks and habitats and eat vast quantities of already sparse vegetation.
There are strict rules in place if your animal escapes into the Park and owners – like Ureste – have to pay a fine to get them back.
Ureste was told he would have to pay hundreds of dollars for the cost incurred by housing her at the facility – $30 a day – medical bills, and her transfer across the border.
They were also told that if she did not pass her medical, she would have to be euthanized.
He turned to Facebook again, appealing for donations and selling t-shirts with a photo of Corona on them to raise money.
He said: ‘She has more than 15 days in quarantine and we don’t know how long she will have to stay there, with each passing day the costs of food and blood tests that we will pay for her to return to us increase!’
He added: ‘She will get deported just like any illegal alien in US soil would. From Ojinaga to Boquillas I have spent more to get her here. We need anything between 1500 to 2000 dollars.’
Corona was kept in a corral in Presidio, over 100 miles northwest of her home
Ureste and his family sold t-shirts of Corona with the hashtag #FreeCorona to raise money for her release
A month later, in mid-September, he had enough to pay for her release.
But then the family were left with the problem of getting her home. Ureste could not enter the US to pick her up, so they had to find someone to bring her across the border, back into Mexico.
Glenn came to the rescue again, driving down from Austin with her truck.
It took her hours to coax Corona inside and they had to race to the border to make it before it closed.
Ureste was waiting on the other side of the Rio Grande with another truck to begin the nine hour drive home down bumpy dirt tracks.
Finally, nearly a month after she left, Corona was home – and to her family’s surprise, they discovered she was pregnant.
They have sent her to a more lush pasture further up the valley until she delivers her foal.
Corona was reunited with her family almost a month after she first escaped
And to their surprise the mare was pregnant, so they sent her off to a better grazing pasture until she can deliver her foal
Some of Ureste’s supporters felt Corona should just have been released without a charge.
But retired biologist Raymond Skiles, who used to work in the park, told Texas Monthly they have to be strict: ‘This is supposed to be a preserve for nature—not to be trampled and eaten.
‘It’s a place for visitors to enjoy a natural condition, not to have to shovel s*** out of their campsite.’
Skiles even suggested that some owners released their animals into the park on purpose to graze when they were short on grass at home.
But Ureste insisted Corona is ‘family’ and he would have never released her, for fear of not getting her back.
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