MAHWAH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — After nine days on the loose, a missing horse was back at his home in Mahwah, N.J. Monday night.

As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported, the horse, named Chief was reunited with his owners after an exhaustive search that ended with some unlikely heroes.

The 1,500-pound black and white paint horse had been roaming the surrounding woods for more than a week.

“I’m like come on Chief, like, really? Come home!” said Chief’s 15-year-old owner, Makenzie Vulgaris.

Vulgaris has been leading the search for nine days now – by foot, vehicle, and horseback.

Chief took off two Saturdays ago. When he tripped, the man riding him jumped off and Chief bolted into the Ramapo Valley Reservation.

On Monday afternoon, Makenzie and the people desperately looking for Chief got the call they have been waiting for.

“The call said, ‘Carol, the horse is at the top of the mountain, get there,’” said Carol Tyco of Tyco Animal Control. “So I got there.”

Chief was found high atop the nearby mountains in a place called Dart Hill, and the people who found him didn’t even know he was missing.

“It’s the first time I’ve stumbled on a lost horse,” said Bob Zappalorti. “I mean, I’ve found some other weird things out in the woods, you know?”

Zappalorti was working on a pipeline when he spotted Chief.

“He came right over to us. He was very friendly,” Zappalorti said. “I think if you can say a horse can smile, he looked like he was smiling.”

Chief spent his days in the wild eating leaves and grass. He had a few cuts and bruises when he was found, and will need a full days to recover fully.

“A little sore from the saddle being on him all this time, but he — probably a little time of rest, and medication, and some good feed, and he’ll be fine,” Tyler said.

It was an especially big relief to Chief’s young owner.

“He’s my everything,” she said.

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