WINNSBORO — A horse owner, county administration, animal control and public works all combined their efforts to save a 15-year-old horse Tuesday afternoon. The rescue took just under three hours.
Fairfield County Animal Control officer David Brown received an emergency call just before lunch about a horse that had fallen into a gorge on farm in Winnsboro just off Kincaid Bridge Road. The horse had wandered nearly 3/4-mile away from the barn where she is housed.
The horse owner, the Rev. Hannie Milling Jr., had been searching for his 15-year-old Appaloosa mare for three days after she went missing from his farm. And by the way, the mare is blind in her left eye.
Appaloosa is one of the most popular breeds in the United States. It was named the official state horse of Idaho in 1975, and is best known for its colorful leopard-spotted coat pattern.
After arriving on the scene and looking over the situation, Brown and Milling Jr. agreed that the only way to rescue the horse would be to dispatch a backhoe to the scene to excavate the hole on the shallow end of the gorge so the horse could walk out.
Brown suggested the horse had fallen down the gorge’s steepest side, which was nearly 30 feet high. It is believed that the horse’s blindness contributed to her fall.
The shallow side of the gorge was just six feet tall, but still too steep for the horse to climb out.
“There was no way she was going to get out without some assistance,” Brown noted. “She barely had enough strength to walk up the ramp that the backhoe excavated.”
Brown said the horse was treated and examined following her rescue. He stated there were no signs of any contusions, broken bones or scars and cited only minor injuries.
Days after the rescue, Milling Jr. told Brown the horse was doing just fine.
Milling Jr. wasn’t the only one happy to see the horse upon her rescue. The 15-year-old mare was also mother to a two-year-old colt, which jumped into the gorge upon seeing its mother.
Milling Jr. had food and water ready for his horse once she escaped her three-day pitfall.
Given that time was of the essence, Brown was especially pleased with the county’s response time.
“Thank goodness for the people who helped out, because I don’t think she would have lasted another night,” he stated. “In a situation like that we want to move fast to let people know we are concerned about it.”
Coupled with lack of food and water for three days, the trapped horse was also subjected to the freezing temperatures earlier this week.
The night after the rescue, temperatures dropped into the low 20’s, and Brown believes the timely rescue attempt was the difference between life and death for the Appaloosa horse.
“I really do believe that we got her out just in the nick-of-time,” he noted.