War and a Horse Death

Combat stress and horse death don’t often collide.
But it appears that’s what happened when Ryan Grafft, a 32-year old captain in the National Guard, allegedly shot three horses, killing one of them. Read more.
After admitting to the shooting, Grafft told the Johnson County officials, it was a “stupid” thing to do, according to the criminal ryan-grafftcomplaint. He’s been charged with three counts of livestock abuse and two counts of reckless use of a firearm. The case has been continued until the end of October.

Grafft went to Iraq in September, 2005. His tour was nearly finished when then President George W. Bush announced plans to increase America’s presence in Iraq. Grafft stayed in Iraq for nearly two years.

As an infantry platoon leader in the 133rd Infantry Battalion, he led 40 soldiers on more than 500 combat logistical patrols, escorting 62,000 trucks in Anbar province, one of the most dangerous areas, according to the Mitchell County Press News.

Two soldiers in his battalion were killed. 35 were injured.

“We saw a lot of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices),” Grafft told the local paper. “It wasn’t an easy time.”

horse-dead-300x158Now, five years later, Grafft allegedly shoots and kills an innocent, unwitting animal.
It’s easy to call acts like these “random violence,” so why is the American public increasingly weary of stories like these?

Nowadays, they seem as predictable as the next eruption of an active volcano. The government says it’s helping soldiers deal with post traumatic stress, but with the uptick in crimes like these, it makes one wonder.

I spoke with a Johnson County prosecutor about the case. She told me the charges were all misdemeanors. Even if convicted (the case has been continued several times as he reportedly seeks treatment), it’s unlikely he’ll serve any time in prison, she said.


Posted in General.


  1. I am not making excuses for this young man – but I was in Iraq in 2006 and it was pretty hairy that year with the surge…. and people like him that were in the front lines got exposed to some severe things…
    He needs help – this is SCREAMING “I need help”
    It is a shame that the horses paid the price – please give us some followup.

    • Thank you, Rebecca, for your excellent comment. Grafft is due in court at the end of October. We will indeed follow the case. Thanks again for weighing in.

  2. Why is it that men like this have to shoot innocent animals when they’re “screaming for help”? Why don’t they shoot the people in government denying them health care? Nah… pick something that can’t fight back. He knew it was wrong and did it anyway. Some guys join the armed services because they enjoy killing things. So he gets home from Iraq and life is a little too boring and he needs the “kill fix” so he goes off to shoot a neighbor’s horses and kills one. I grew up in an extremely disfunctional alcoholic home where I didn’t know if my father was going to shoot us all in one of his many rages or let us live. I literally stood between him and my pony one day with the barrel of his rifle pointed in my chest. I told him he’d have to shoot me first! Sooo… many of us grow up in a “war” on the homefront and suffer from PTSD yet we don’t go out shooting and torturing animals or other people. I’m tired of excuses for inexcusable behavior. We all know he’ll get a slap on the wrist like since he’s a veteran. For all we know, this decorated vet might just have a prior history to shooting animals for the fun of it before enlisting in the armed forces.

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