Livestock

Amazing rescue of horse trapped in hayloft

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We’ve seen horses bite and kick each other, get their legs caught in fencing, and come up short during a jump — they are naturally prey animals, and as such, there’s a stronger motivation of flight instead of fight amid a difficult situation.

This is one of those times.

In the wee hours of the morning on Friday, rescue teams were called because a 6-year-old horse in Virginia had become trapped in the hayloft of a barn.

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“The evening before, Phoenix and a new mare got into a tussle, and Phoenix broke down the barrier to the stairs and escaped the scenario by going up into the loft,” the Little Fork Volunteer Technical Large Animal Rescue Team said in a Facebook post on Sunday.

When the Little Fork team arrived on scene, they reached out to local fire and rescue teams for additional help, as well as to animal control officers and a veterinarian, Dr. Tarah Satalino with Windover Equine Services.

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What happened next is best said in the words of the Facebook post:

“It was decided to heavily sedate Phoenix, move him onto the rescue glide, then slide Phoenix and the glide down the steps and outside to safety. We set up the a two ton chain hoist by chaining it to one of the main posts that supported the building. A secondary safety system was rigged using a 4:1 rope and pulley system with safety prussics. This system was anchored to a different large structural post further back in the barn near the rear wall. Once the rigging was complete we performed a “dry run” of the system to be sure that it would work. Once everything was set up another concern was that Phoenix might slide off the rescue glide once on the stairway. He was estimated to weigh between 1200 to 1500 lbs. We rigged him to the board as best as possible using carabiners and webbing. … The vet administered ketamine in a dosage that would be used for surgery. We could not take the chance of having Phoenix struggle during the rescue. Once heavily sedated the horse was moved onto the rescue glide and it was pulled to the head of the stairwell. … As Phoenix started down the stairs the hobbled legs were drawn towards his body and there was just enough room for him to slide down on his side. … Once outside the rigging and equipment were removed and he tried to stand. He stumbled around and fell to the ground in respiratory arrest. The vet performed an emergency tracheotomy. Phoenix began to breath again and was eventually moved back inside. We are happy to report that he is OK and that the trach tube was removed today!!”

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The whole rescue was an amazing team effort! So much appreciation goes to the crews who did so much great work during a high-stress and difficult situation.

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