Horse Rescue 911 (Part 2)

We were all standing around sweltering in the sun. The fire fighters had been there for over two hours and we had gotten nowhere except sweatier. When the vet pulled up we all sighed a big sigh of relief. If Cholla was ever getting up again, she needed fluids and drugs. At that point we were all in need of fluids and drugs.

Our vet for the day was Heather Baker, DVM. She’s been Paula’s vet for years and she had seen Cholla once before when she went down and got up on her own but it was the first time she had done that to us and we panicked. She was fine at the time and Danielle laughed at us because she knows that’s just what Cholla does.

Heather immediately hooked Cholla to an IV, and pushed some anti-inflammatories and pain killers into her. Five liters of fluids went into Cholla lickety-split and she started to perk up a little. At the same time, Paula’s dad tried to call the neighbor with the tractor and by some miracle he answered his phone. He had just got home and was on his way with his big tractor. Things were looking up for Cholla.

we loaded Cholla on the sled one last time and pulled her out of the small paddock so the tractor could get to her. Once she was in the bigger paddock, the horse rescue team put the rescue harness on her.

The harness was designed by UC Davis. It can safely lift a horse but the horse can only remain suspended in it for about 10 minutes before it starts to cause nerve damage. We figured 10 minutes would be enough time for her to get blood back in her feet and stabilize her. With horse and tractor in place, the rescue was on…

( I think I just screamed, “Get out from under her feet, honey!”)

The neighbor with the tractor was amazing. I think his name is Larry and not only did he have a beautiful tractor (he seemed pleased we noticed) but the guy knew how to drive it. He lifted Cholla up nice and slow, like he rescued live animals every day. Then he ever so slowly and gently set her back on her feet again, as she was ready to take on more of her own weight.

From the time she was found down to the time she was on her feet again was eight hours. I imagine she was stiff and no doubt her legs had gone to sleep but she stood up and breathed a big sigh. There’s always that slight worry that a horse in a harness attached to a tractor is going to panic but Cholla didn’t so much as bat an eyelash as we unhooked her and the tractor pulled away.

Dr. Heather stayed on to give her 10 more liters of fluids. Cholla was starving since she didn’t get breakfast but she was only allowed  few nibbles until we confirmed she didn’t have impaction colic (read: we were waiting for her to poop.)

I would just like to thank everyone who came out for this event. Felton is an hour from where Cholla was but the rescue team came out, no questions asked. They also come out for free. There were friends who came out early in the day to try to get her up and they stayed for the whole event. And of course, Paula and her family were wonderful. Paula’s dad is allergic to horses and spent the day itching and swollen. I’m sure it was worse the next day but he stayed and orchestrated the heavy equipment. Danielle was a trooper and waited patiently by her phone in new york as we worked and only called for updates a few times, even though I imagine she was in turmoil. Dr. Heather did an awesome job with managing the meds and making the calls that only doctors should make. Big thanks to Larry with the tractor. She would still be on the ground if it weren’t for him. And my husband was wonderful. He lifted a lot of horse body that day and boy was he sore the next morning.

I hope to never have to do a horse rescue again but I think it’s like getting hit by lightning. Once it happens, your chances of it happening again increase exponentially.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Moo on February 22, 2011 at 10:16

    Dad always feels comfortable around horse feet. Even if it’s not exactly safe. (he is a farrier)


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