Previous Page  6 / 24 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 6 / 24 Next Page
Page Background



Here we recount a successful rescue that

occurred a couple of years ago following a

mare becoming trapped in a muddy bog

The owner called the vet and the local fire

service which fortunately had members that

were trained in safe horse rescue. The situation

was assessed prior to any attempt being made

to rescue the horse, a Shire cross mare in her

late teens. It is important that everyone works

together, and therefore, the rescue plan was

discussed with the owners, fire service and vet.

It is also important that everyone, except the

immediate rescue team, keeps out of the

cordoned zone unless requested to enter by

the person in charge.

The mare required heavy sedation because,

even though exhausted, she would make

attempts to try to extricate herself without

warning. As she did so, a vacuum was

created in the mud making it highly likely that

either one of the firefighters or the vet could

have been sucked underneath her. Sedation, in

calming the patient, prevents injury to the horse

and makes it safer for all concerned. The white

board beneath her head

(figure one)

was put

in place to keep her nostrils free of dirty water

to prevent it getting into her lungs. Once the

board was in place, two straps were placed

around her body which enabled us to pull the

mare steadily backwards out of the muddy

pond. The mare was assessed immediately

post extraction from the pond

(figure two)


broken limbs and wounds.

The pond was at the bottom of a steep-sided

field, and the mare was gently lifted and

carried to a relatively flat field in which it

was easier for her to stand

(figure three)


Once in a safe level field, the mare was

lowered gently to the ground and the straps

removed. Prior to this she was mildly sedated

again because she began to struggle. Horses

will often struggle as soon as their hooves

touch the ground making it difficult to release

them. The mare was released from the

strapping and able to stand on her own

(figure four)

. She was re-examined and given

anti-inflammatory medication to reduce any

pain or stiffness that may have occurred from

being pulled out of the pond or hoisted in the

air by the straps. The mare made a full and

uneventful recovery.

Every year horses and ponies are involved in accidents from falling into ditches

and being trapped in overturned horse boxes and trailers to getting stuck in

gates, cattle grids, ponds and bogs. The fire service has traditionally been called

to rescue these animals but, until recently, there has been little in the way of

formal training to enable the fire service to extract a horse safely from these

situations despite the fact the work is potentially extremely dangerous.

Veterinary Surgeon

Dominic Alexander

XLVets Equine Practice

Belmont Farm and

Equine Vets


Dominic Alexander BVMS MRCVS,

Belmont Farm and Equine Vets

Figure one. Exhausted mare stuck in the

thick mud of a pond

Figure two. Lying relaxed under sedation,

immediately post extraction from pond

Figure three. Mare being gently lifted and

transported to a place of safety

Figure four. Mare recovering in a place of

safety, a level field, after the ordeal

Happy Endings:

A Successful Rescue