The horse walked slowly down the dirt road toward Scott Umbenhauer's hay delivery truck Monday afternoon.
"He walked right up to me," Umbenhauer said.
There was a catch pen nearby, so he put the horse in it.
"I thought at first someone's horse got out," Umbenhauer said.
Then he and a friend made some calls. No one had heard of a lost horse.
"So, I figured the horse was abandoned," he said.
Where the gelding might have been lost or abandoned and how far he wandered on his four shoeless hooves from that point is a mystery.
Presently, Audra and Phil Daugherty are caring for the horse.
"I can't imagine the kind of person who would abandon a horse," she said.
Officially, the horse was impounded Aug. 21. The Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA) is looking at auctioning off the animal Sept. 6 at 4 p.m. at Payson Event Center.
"That is, of course, if we are unsuccessful at locating the horse's rightful owners," Ed Hermes, public information officer for the ADA said.
Other than a dry patch of white hair on his forehead, and the fact that his hooves are cracked with wear, the Daughertys see nothing obviously, wrong with their horse guest.
Audra is keeping him away from her other horse to be safe, but he is eating and drinking and leaving horse apples just fine.
"He is dehydrated and malnourished. We have a 28-year-old horse in better shape, although this one has a lot of spirit -- he trots," Audra said, as the horse munches carrots from her hand.
She spritzes him with fly spray, then takes a moment to gently pinch the skin of his shoulder.
"The skin stays pinched; it means he's dehydrated," Audra said.
She curried a bit of mud from his brick-colored coat, so he might have found a little water before she took him in.
The horse stands about 15 hands high and is friendly.
He calls to the other horses with loud "neighs," or perhaps he is just asking for more carrots.
"He kept us up all Monday night with his crying," she said.
"There are a lot of kids that would love to have the ability to take care of a horse, especially one as gentle as he seems to be, if he is healthy," Phil said.
The horse is "thin, but not in bad shape," so, the ADA will not have a vet look at the horse, prior to auction.
The horse might feel and act differently after he plumps up with food, water and TLC.
"He's suited to being a backyard pet, more than likely, or poking around a pasture as a child's horse," Audra said.
Horse abandonment is on the rise, Hermes said.
The Arizona Equine Rescue Organization is also caring for a horse found abandoned in the desert in June.
The state hotline to report lost or found livestock is toll free, 1-800-294-0305.