British Columbia

Search for Wyoming man underway after horse found without its rider near Merritt, B.C.

Ben Tyner's horse was found Monday in full riding gear.

Horse in full riding gear believed to belong to Ben Tyner, 32, from Wyoming, who works at a local cattle ranch

Ben Tyner's fully saddled horse was discovered by loggers in the backcountry north of Merritt in late January. (Facebook)

An extensive search is underway for the rider of a horse that was found in full riding gear near Merritt, B.C.

Loggers found the horse on Monday around 12:30 p.m. PT. Ranchers caught the animal and figured out who it belonged to.

Thirty-two-year-old Ben Tyner from Wyoming works at a cattle ranch near Merritt. He'd been on his days off and was last seen on Saturday afternoon.

RCMP said no one knows when he rode into the backcountry or where he was going.

"We don't know what his destination was. We believe he rode in from the ranch where he works, but we're having trouble locating tracks because of all the wildlife in the area and other wild horse herds," said Const. Tracy Dunsmore.

Merritt sits in the Nicola Valley and has a population of about 7,000 people. (Google Maps)

More than half a dozen search and rescue teams from the Lower Mainland to the North Okanagan have been involved in the search. Police dogs, snowmobiles, drones and helicopters have been deployed.

"We've brought in every resource that we have," Dunsmore said.

Tyner's family on its way to Merritt

RCMP said members of Tyner's family are on their way to Merritt from the U.S. to assist in the search. 

Members of the public have been asked not to search independently to avoid further interference, but anyone with information or who may have seen a man riding in the Swakum ridge area over the weekend is asked to contact Merritt RCMP.

Kamloops Search and Rescue is continuing its search for Tyner but says it hasn't learned much more since it began looking on Monday night.

"We're kind of in the same spot as where we were when we started," said Jennifer Stahn with Kamloops Search and Rescue. 

"We know where his horse was found and we know when he was last seen, but other than that, we've [only] managed to narrow it down to where he's not."

Stahn said they aren't sure how prepared Tyner was to be outside in cold temperatures.

"The colder temperatures definitely puts a little bit more pressure to find him sooner rather than later," she said.

"Having [so] many people help us spread out the area. .. it allows us to cover a larger area a lot more quickly than if we only had one team out."

The City of Merritt, in the Interior's Nicola Valley, has a population of about 7,000 people.

With files from Brady Strachan