At 8:30, I was toned to go stand-by at the scene of a horse trapped up to its chest in mud. I went over and picked up the rescue truck and went up to the scene. Two other EMTs from my paid service (the transport agency for the town the call was in) arrived just before I did. We had all been called to the scene in case anything happened during the extrication process.

I made my way down to the pasture where the horse was stuck. I was one of the first few people on scene; eventually there would be about thirty people helping.

It was worse than the dispatcher had said; the horse was in up to the shoulders. Apparently a sinkhole had been filled with rocks and dirt; the dirt had liquified in the recent rain and snow. The horse, Cody, had fallen in sometime last night. Cody was an old guy, twenty-six.

Some people were digging out around the horse; the medical people started to do what we could for the horse. The poor horse was caked with mud and seemed exhausted. Another horse stood nearby, trying to figure out what was going on. The owner, a sixtyish woman, didn’t know what to do and kept walking from Cody to the house and back. Some neighbors tried to calm her.

We covered Cody with blankets and about twelve hotpacks (all that we had between the ambulance and the rescue truck) and improvised an oxygen mask from a suction container. Finally a vet arrived and took over care of the animal and supervision of the extrication.

More and more people started to arrive. This photo is still early in the process.

The firefighters eventually dug out enough so that a rope could be passed under the horse. The rope was used to pull a 2 1/2″ hose through. The hose was attached to a tractor. The tractor pulled the hose as ten or so people pulled a rope from a different angle to try to get Cody over the rocky lip of the hole.

The white sheet is a teflon slide. Some blood can be seen; the horse apparently was cut during the digging process. The vet is the woman with the head scarf.

At first, Cody had been alert; from time to time, he would try to get out. The vet was trying to calm the animal.

After a while the animal flagged. Although Cody was partially out by this time, we had been trying to figure out how to get him out without breaking one of the back legs that was at a bad angle. The vet, noticing the horse’s distress, told us that we needed to get the horse out in thirty seconds or never. We heaved the horse out with the help of the tractor. Cody tried to stand once and fell.

The vet determined that Cody was in arrest. The horse was rolled to its stomach. We gave it O2 while the vet and a firefighter performed CPR on the horse. Cody’s companion human stood by and sobbed.

Finally, the vet called it. We rolled the horse on its side and covered it with blankets. The other horse was obviously stunned; its eyes were huge. No one spoke for a long time.

After a while, people started to pack up. The ambulance left; I stayed to monitor the owner for a while. She was very upset but relatively calm.

The other horse was taken to a different farm; a backhoe was called to bury Cody in the pasture.

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