Snippy the Horse - the Most
Famous Horse in the World!
The Exciting Mystery of
On Sept. 7, 1967 - Snippy the horse, a 3-year-old Appaloosa, who’s actual name was Lady, failed to show up for her usual morning drink in a pasture on the Harry King ranch 20 miles northeast of Alamosa, at the foot of Mount Blanca. Two days later, Snippy's body was found in the pasture, her death cloaked in mystery. The skin and flesh had been cleanly cut away from the shoulders to the ears.
There were no tracks near the body and no blood on the ground, but strange markings were found on the ground around Snippy's body. The horse's owner, Nellie Lewis, said she was positive that extraterrestrials were responsible for Snippy’s death.
The marks on the ground included six indentations which formed a circle three feet in diameter. It was generally agreed that these were the sort of marks a flying saucer might make and it was said that Snippy's tracks ended 100 or so feet from where she was found.
The heart and brain were missing from the carcass, and a formaldehyde-like odor was emitted from the animal for several days after discovery. The bones of Snippy’s neck and skull were a stark-white discoloration, as if they had been bleached.
The horse's owner, Nellie Lewis, accompanied by Harry King, visited the spot where Snippy had been found. She reported finding a flattened bush and what seemed to be exhaust marks. She also said she smelled a strange, sweet odor, "like incense."
She picked up a piece of the horse's mane and felt it burn her hands. Later she reported her boots were found to be radioactive. She remained convinced that extraterrestrials had done this to her horse.
Mrs. Lewis contacted the United States Forest Service, and Ranger Duane Martin was sent to investigate. Martin checked the area with a civil defense Geiger counter and reported finding a considerable increase in radioactivity about two city blocks from the body of Snippy.
Mrs. Agnes King, Harry's 87-year-old mother, said that even though her eyesight was poor, she had seen something pass over the ranch house the day Snippy disappeared.
After trying to interest other authorities with little success, Mrs. Lewis turned to her professional connections - she wrote occasionally for the Pueblo Chieftain. Her account of Snippy’s strange death was published in that newspaper, and was picked up by the Associated Press on October 5, 1967. Soon, much of the United States knew the tale of Snippy’s death, and reports of UFO’s were made from others in Colorado.
Published that same day as Snippy’s death was an account by Superior Court Judge Charles E. Bennett of Denver, Colorado. Bennett and his wife claimed they had witnessed three reddish-orange rings in the sky that maintained a triangular formation, moved at a high speed, and made a humming sound.
NICAP, a civilian UFO research group, became involved in the case as more and more people were speculating that UFOs were somehow involved in the death of Snippy.
Shortly thereafter, an anonymous Denver pathologist’s published an autopsy that claimed Snippy’s brain and abdominal organs were missing. He also said that there was no material in the spinal column. The pathologist insisted on anonymity due to fear of damaging his reputation with involvement in such a high-profile case.
Supposedly another Denver pathologist also preformed a belated autopsy on the horse and found the brain and stomach cavities to be empty. The doctor sawed into the brain cavity and found 'absolutely nothing' and opened the stomach expecting to find remains of digestive organs, but found only a 'little powdery residue.
The saw marks and opening in Snippy’s skull are unmistakable as can be seen in the picture below.
As long as 24 months after Snippy's death, area residents said that no grass would grow where the dead horse had been found.
The story caught on quickly in the San Luis Valley, where sightings of objects believed to be flying saucers had become frequent that year. Within a month, the story of Snippy's death made the news all over the world.
It just so happened that the Condon Commission UFO study was in full swing at the University of Colorado. Dr. Robert Adams, a pathologist with the commission, agreed to do an autopsy on Snippy.
He concluded that Snippy had a severe leg infection at her time of death and someone must have slit her throat to put the animal out of misery. Once the throat was cut, birds could have easily stripped away the rest of the flesh.
“Bacteria, birds, and coyotes were responsible for the absence of organs in the abdominal cavity… predators had eaten away part of the horse's rump, exposing the cavity.” Dr. Adams said. “It was normal under the circumstances that the brain cavity was devoid of fluid.”
“Because all tissue was gone from the skull, the opening in the back was exposed to the air. Since the brain, after death, liquefied in hours, the fluid evaporated quickly in the warm prairie air.” “It was at least 30 days after Snippy's death before anyone examined the carcass, and the longest the fluid could have remained would have been two weeks.” Dr. Adams said.
“I know it's going to pop the bubble, but the horse was not killed by a flying saucer.” Dr. Adams said his findings at this point are speculative, but there was some evidence that severe infection had been present in the right flank area.
Dr. Adams also reported that there was evidence the skin in front of the shoulder had been incised. This could mean that someone found Snippy down and suffering and cut her throat to end the pain. Then the incision could have attracted birds and other predators which stripped away the flesh from the neck and head.
Dr. Robert J. Low from the University of Colorado also examined the carcass and reported finding no radiation or flying saucer "exhaust" marks.
John Altshuler, a medical hematologist and pathologist, who happened to be a few miles down the road from the King Ranch at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument Park in September of 1967, was also asked to look at Snippy.
He noted the clean, surgical precision of the cuts and the fact there was absolutely no blood in, or around the horse. The most amazing thing to him was the lack of blood - there was no blood on the skin or on the ground. No blood anywhere.
Inside the horse's chest he found a complete lack of organs. He surmised that whoever did the cutting took the horse's heart, lungs, and thyroid. The chest cavity was completely empty -- and dry. It was an incredible dissection of organs without any evidence of blood.
Upon examining the cut edges, he determined that he knew of no technology in 1967 that could produce the unusual heat changes he saw in the tissue.
Also puzzling was the fact that the exposed bones were completely devoid of flesh and appeared like they had been bleached in the sun for years.
Note: Today Snippy’s skeleton is bleach white on her left side – my guess is that it this probably due to the way she was facing the sun when she was on display.
Snippy's body lay in the meadow where she had fallen until December when Dr. Wallace Leary, operator of a local Veterinary Clinic, obtained the skeleton from Snippy's owner to use in his practice.
Dr. Leary dismembered the horse into sections, brought it to his office, and boiled the parts until all the flesh had left the bones. This was reportedly a very foul smelling undertaking.
As he was boiling the hindquarters, Dr. Leary discovered two bullet holes in the left pelvis and right thighbones. It began to seem that vandals, not ET's, had brought poor Snippy to her untimely end.
Below are what I think may be the bullet holes Dr. Leary referred to. This first picture is of Snippy’s left pelvic bone and shows a definite hole of the size that I would associate with a .22 slug.
This second picture is on Snippy’s right thighbone. The reason I think this may be the second bullet
Dr. Leary's theory in 1968, "and I'm saying it's only a theory," was "I think a couple of kids hit the horse with a couple of .22 rifle slugs. Then, the horse is scared and she takes off at a high lope and runs through a barbed wire fence. I've seen it before, that wire can clean an animal like a knife slicing cheese."
Dr. Leary drilled holes in the bones and fastened them together with wire and used aluminum rods to prop up the skeleton. A local machine shop provided a platform on which the skeleton was mounted. (Still is to this day.)
Nellie Lewis and her husband stuck to the ET theory, along with several other Alamosans. “They're here," she said of the other-worldly visitors. "There's no doubt of it . . . A lot of people think I'm nuts. But if I am nuts, it's not because of flying saucers. I'm sure they're here. I've seen them."
Before he left the San Luis Valley in 1969, Dr. Leary said, "I couldn't be happier if Mrs. Lewis was right. Then we'd have the bones of the only horse that's ever been zapped by a flying saucer."
For a time, Snippy's assembled remains stood outside a San Luis Valley Pottery shop owned by Dr. Leary and his wife.
By 1971, the bones were reported on display in the Alamosa Chamber of Commerce office, with a sign, "In memory of Snippy," hanging above the skeleton.
Later the skeleton was donated to the Luther Bean Museum at Adams State College in Alamosa. When the college was ready to get rid of Snippy, Carl Helfin – a local collector of odd and unusual things – took possession of the skeleton and kept it until his death. Walter Huffman, a long time friend of Carl’s, helped Carl move Snippy out of the museum located in Richardson Hall at Adams State College.
Snippy had all but been forgotten when, at Carl’s death, she was “rediscovered” in one of his many storage sheds.
Snippy is currently being prepared for sale at auction on eBay on December 1, 2006.
"Snippy the horse" was just the start of what was to become a major phenomenon in the state of Colorado. Since that time, hundreds of livestock mutilations have been reported by area ranchers. The problem was considered so serious at one time, that a reward of $25,000 was offered by several Colorado agencies for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for mutilating livestock.
Although Snippy is widely considered to be the first documented case of alien animal mutilation, it is not considered a "classic mutilation".
A classic mutilation generally refers to cattle found missing soft-tissue organs, i.e., genitalia, tongue, exposed mandible(s), eye(s), ear(s), and/or the animal is drained of blood and fluids. All excision areas should look like "surgical cuts” and the area surrounding the animal should have no blood or any additional clues.
It has been said that Lady, the horse’s real name, picked up the nickname “Snippy” at the time of her death from reporters because of the way she was found all cut up.
Snippy (Lady) was not a gelding as was often reported, she was a mare. A gelding is a male horse that has been castrated - a mare is a female horse.
According to close friends, Nellie Lewis became increasingly obsessed with UFOs and the occult after the mysterious death of Snippy. Sadly, Nellie committed suicide years later in the entrance to Urraca cemetery located on Mount Blanca - on the same date of her mother’s burial. Nellie, as well as her mother and other family members, are buried at Urraca cemetery.
The King Ranch is still located at the foot of Mount Blanca.
UFO sightings in the San Luis Valley are still reported.
Animal mutilations continue to occur in the San Luis Valley as recently as 5 months ago.
So, what was Snippy’s actual cause of death?
Did UFO’s kill Snippy like Nellie Lewis and many others believe?
Did Snippy die from the two bullet holes?
Who really knows?
The only thing most people seem to be able to agree on, is that it makes for one heck of a good story.
Personally, I try to keep an open mind…
and every now and then I turn my gaze toward the sky…
just in case…