Rescued horse stiff, but doing well
Edward Cothey of Tregellys Fiber Farm watches Belgian draft horses Bob and Dick enjoy some feed Friday. Dick spent two hours stuck in a mud pit on the farm Friday, but was rescued by firefighters and others.
(Photo submitted by Gretchen Gertsner)
Gretchen Gertsner, of Ashfield, comforts her Belgian draft horse, Dick, who was sunk to his shoulders in mud and ice at Tregellys Fiber Farm in Hawley Thursday.
Asfhield and Hawley firefighters teamed up with workers from Tregellys Fiber Farm and Himalaya Stonecraft to free Dick, a Belgian draft horse, after he became stuck shoulder-deep in a mud pit at Tregellys in Hawley Thursday. Dick's brother, Bob, watches from the next field.
HAWLEY — While it may take a team of horses to pull a wagon full of people, it takes a team of people, straps, some heavy equipment and a great deal of care to pull a horse.
Dick, a 23-year-old Belgian draft horse stabled in Hawley, found that out the hard way when he wandered into a mud pit at Tregellys Fiber Farm Thursday, and ended up shoulder-deep in the muck, powerless to free himself.
“I’m amazed that he made it out unscathed, being so old,” owner Gretchen Gertsner of Ashfield said Friday. “I went up to see him this morning and he’s fine. He’s stiff, but that’s understandable.”
Gertsner was grateful for the team that pulled Dick from the spring-fed mud pit. Firefighters from Ashfield and Hawley teamed up with farmhands and workers from Himalaya Stonecraft to get him unstuck.
It was slow going, and they had to be careful not to injure his long legs. While a broken leg is a major inconvenience for a human, for a horse, it can be much worse.
“It was a dramatic rescue,” said Jody Cothey, co-owner of Tregellys. You could really see what an effort it was.”
Dick and his younger brother Bob were raised in an Amish community in Ohio before being adopted by Gertsner. Back in Ohio, they were true work horses, pulling carts and farm equipment.
“Because he was a working draft horse, he’s not a nervous animal, and that helped,” said Cothey.
Though he did rear up a couple of times during the rescue, he wasn’t spooked when Thinley Dhargay of Himalaya Stonecraft fired up his four-wheel-drive Manitou tractor and headed over to help.
That tractor came in quite handy.
The rescue crew chopped away at the layers of ice that trapped Dick’s legs and carefully worked long, yellow load straps around his girth and between his rear legs and secured them to the tractor’s bucket. Dhargay retracted the tractor’s telescoping arm, slowly pulling the horse out with it. After each little bit of progress, the straps were re-positioned as workers kept the horse from sliding back, and, inch-by-inch, the horse was pulled from the pit.
Brother Bob watched the whole ordeal from a nearby field, silent but for the occasional bray.
Gertsner comforted her stuck horse, patting his nose and rubbing his ears to keep him calm. It was all she could do to keep it together herself.
“After they’d been pulling for an hour, and he still hadn’t come out, I lost it,” she admitted. “I started to feel really bad for him. We were trying everything, and it didn’t seem to work.”
She had to take a couple of breaks, so Dick wouldn’t see her cry. Once composed, she headed back over to her faithful steed.
Once he was freed from the hole, Dick wanted nothing but to take a rest. After some prodding, he got his hooves under him again, and was able to walk back to the barn, and his brother followed.
“Dick and Bob haven’t been separated for 19 years, so I wanted to bring him to the barn to stay with him,” said Gertsner. “Bob helped keep him warm; they were standing so close to each other.”
Dick was limping slightly after his rescue, but felt well enough to get some grain down. He will be checked out by a vet, but Gertsner and Cothey agreed that he seems quite well, given the ordeal he’s been through.
Now safe and sound, both horses will be able to continue enjoying their retirement. Work these days consists of casual horseback rides and the occasional wagon ride, though Bob has recently gotten into acting, playing a supporting role in a Double Edge Theatre production last year.
You can reach David Rainville at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-772-0261, ext. 279