Horse Rescue 911 (Part 1)

Saturday morning. It was already 70 degrees out. I was in my organic farming class, sweating like crazy and digging in a cover crop when Paula sent me a text saying Cholla was down and her breathing sounded funny. It was 10m and Paula had been trying to get her up since 8:30. I thought the breathing was understandable since horses aren’t designed to lay down for long periods of time so I had Paula call Dave who was heading that way with the kids. An hour later I got another text, “Hey, it’s not going too well, we can’t get her up and her breathing is worse.” Being the consummate 911 professional I knew exactly what to do and started calling out equipment. We needed the vet and Felton Fire Department’s Large Animal Rescue Unit.  Paula’s dad is a high up at a local fire department so he called for the horse rescue unit, directly. The vet, unfortunately was on the top of a mountain where she had just put a large pig under general anesthesia in order to stitch him up but she would be there as soon as she could. I bailed out of class and headed to the barn. Dave called Danielle to let her know what was going on. Then I called Danielle just to make sure Dave told her everything.

When I got to the barn, Cholla was drenched in sweat, laying flat on her side and was starting to dehydrate. Other than that, her vitals were good. Her breathing sounded fine, her heart rate wasn’t elevated, and her guts were digesting away. We tried to get her up a couple of times but mostly we waited for the fire department to get there. Cholla was exhausted. Moo and the Boy got out a brush and fussed over her, which I’m sure will only encourage this behavior in the future. Other than the fact that she was laid flat on her side, she didn’t seem to mind too much. She likes to be the center of attention.

The heros of the day: Cpt. Audrey, Chief Ron and Adam

The fire-people (one was a woman so I hesitate to call them firemen) wasted no time in accessing the scene and working out a plan. We were going to load Cholla on a sled, pull her into the center of the pen with the quad and hope she got up on her own. If that didn’t work, we had a big problem. You see, the meat and potatoes of the horse rescue plan involves putting a harness on the horse and winching her up. Unfortunately, there was nothing to attach her to. Paula’s dad had a small tractor but it wasn’t tall enough to lift her and there were no nearby overhead beams to attach her to. The neighbor had a big tractor but he wasn’t answering his phone. So the rescue began…

First order of business is the helmet. Protecting the noggin is always very important.

Then we wrap her in webbing and use he quad to pull her on to the sled.

But the quad was too small so Paula and her dad brought out the tractor.

And up she went onto the sled.

Then we pulled her out to the middle of the paddock so she had some room to try to get up. This is the only thing I have video of:

Here’s where the plan started to fall apart. She couldn’t get up on her own. She tried. Dave tried to lift her by himself. I screamed at him at least five times to get out from under the falling horse. we kept loading her on the sled and bringing her back to the top of the paddock so she could try again. I was starting to think this was the end. I think everyone was having the same thought. There was no way this mare was going to get up again on her own and we had no way to lift her. We kept trying to get her up but each time she put less effort into it. She was hot and tired, we were hot and loosing hope. Mostly, we were waiting for the vet.

To be continued….


One response to this post.

  1. […] YouTubehorse rescue story part 1 – YouTubeHorseNet Horse RescueWild Horses Rescue MissionHorse Rescue 911 (Part 1) « Eating My WordsHorse Supplies, Dewormers, Equine Supplements & Tack – Horse.comRescue Me: Equine Angels […]


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