Nebraska authorities are searching to find out who shot a beloved retired rodeo horse last month.

According to the Scottsbluff Star-Herald, the horse, J.K. Tonto, was found Nov. 17 by the grandfather of Kayellyn Hall, a rodeo competitor. One of the horse’s shoulders was shattered by a bullet on the family’s ranch in Minatare and it had to be euthanized.

"He was my first horse," said Kayellyn Hall, who had owned J.K. Tonto since she was 7 years old. "Rodeo is my life," she said, "and he is the horse that got that started."

The family was not home at the time of the shooting; they were attending the Big Ten Rodeo Championships where Kayellyn and her sister were competing.

J.K.’s injuries were discovered when he was out to pasture and was standing off by himself.

Scotts Bluff County deputies are now investigating the shooting as a felony, gathering evidence and speaking to people who were hunting in the area at the time.

J.K. Tonto was shot the first weekend of deer hunting, but no one contacted the family to report the horse’s injuries.

"I wish that someone would have come forward," said Krisa Hall, Kayellyn’s mother. "If it was an accident, accidents happen, but it's hard to believe that someone didn't know it [the shooting] happened."

Anyone with information on J.K.’s shooting can contact the Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s Department at 308-436-6667, or tips can be emailed or texted to tips@sbcso.org. Persons can also call Scotts Bluff County Crime Stoppers and be eligible for a cash reward at 308-632-STOP (7867).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.